Written by Deanna Smith and Joseph Mooradian – Research Assistants
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:
Animal Welfare: Supreme Court Denies Review of California’s Egg Sales Law
On May 30, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for review of a Ninth Circuit ruling concerning California’s AB 1437, which required eggs sold within the state to conform to California’s animal care standards. Missouri, along with five other states, questioned whether a state may “challenge another State’s commercial regulations on the ground that those regulations violate the Commerce Clause.” The petition came after the Ninth Circuit ruled in California’s favor in November 2016, concluding that the states did not have adequate standing to maintain their claim in court. According to Feedstuffs, the six-state coalition, “estimated a cost of $120 million to remodel laying houses to meet California standards and said the state unfairly imposes burdens on farmers outside its borders.” Denial of the petition means that the California law will stand, although it “does leave the door open for additional challenges,” since the case was decided on the basis of standing, not the content or enforcement of the law.
Antibiotic Use: Maryland Passes Animal Antibiotics Legislation
Maryland recently enacted SB0422 entitled Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017. The new law mandates that antimicrobial drugs for cattle, swine, or poultry may be administered only by a licensed veterinarian and only for the treatment, control, or prevention of a disease or infection, or for surgery or other medical procedures. The legislation became law on May 27, 2017, when Governor Larry Hogan declined to sign or veto the bill. Under the bill, antimicrobial drugs may not be given to cattle, swine, or poultry as part of “a regular pattern” and may not be used “solely for the purpose of promoting weight gain or improving feed efficiency.” Maryland is the second state to regulate antibiotic use on farms through legislation with California being the first to enact legislation imposing stricter regulations than that of the FDA. The act will take effect on October 1, 2017.
National Ag Policy: Perdue Discusses Proposed USDA Budget Cuts
On May 24, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with lawmakers at a budget hearing to discuss the proposed USDA budget cuts. According to Food Chemical News, the House Appropriations hearing lasted around two hours, and that subjects discussed included “reductions in staffing levels,” “transferring catfish inspection authority from USDA back over to [the] FDA,” “an 11% proposed cut to the National Organic Program (NOP),” “proposed cuts to USDA food assistance programs,” and whether or not the administration would “toss the ‘Farmer Fair Practices’ GIPSA rules.”
Pesticides: U.S. House Votes to Loosen Restrictions on Pesticides
On May 24, 2017, in a 256-165 vote, the U.S. House passed H.R.953 as a part of the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017. The bill loosens restrictions on federal pesticide regulations and amends the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act by prohibiting the EPA or states from requiring permits under the Clean Water Act if the pesticide is already approved under FIFRA.
Biosecurity: Senate Passes Securing our Agriculture and Food Act
On May 24, 2017, the U.S. Senate passed the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act, H.R.1238.The act defends food, agriculture, and livestock against terrorism and similar high-risk events to ensure a safe food supply. The act “amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to carry out a program to coordinate DHS efforts related to defending the food, agriculture, and veterinary systems of the United States against terrorism and other high-consequence events that pose a high risk to homeland security.”
Animal Welfare: The World Organization on Animal Health Adopts Animal Welfare Strategy
On May 24, 2017, the World Organization on Animal Health (OIE) announced its first global strategy on animal welfare. The strategy was developed and endorsed at the 4th OIE Global Conference on animal welfare that took place last year in Mexico and is comprised of four pillars: “development of international animal welfare standards,” “enhancement of capacity building and training of veterinary services,” “communication with governments, national and international organizations, and the public to raise awareness on animal welfare,” and “progressive implementation of OIE standards on animal welfare and their corresponding policies.”
National Ag Policy: USFRA Publishes Sustainability Report
On May 26, 2017, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance published Agriculture in America Sustainability Report 2017. The report includes a summary report on a survey of farmers’ and ranchers’ perceptions on environmental sustainability and agricultural practices, as well as information on key commodities in the industry and their impact on different aspects of the environment.
Raw Milk: CDC Releases Report on Outbreak-Related Diseases from Raw Milk and Cheese
The June 2017 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases released by the CDC contains a research report titled, “Outbreak-Related Disease Burden Associated with Consumption of Unpasteurized Cow’s Milk and Cheese, United States, 2009-2014.” The report details how “the growing popularity of unpasteurized milk in the United States raises public health concerns” and tracks the correlation between a growing “consumption of unpasteurized dairy products,” and the claim that “a doubling in the consumption of unpasteurized milk or cheese could increase outbreak-related illnesses by 96%.”
Industrial Hemp/Cannabis: Maryland Halts Medical Marijuana Licensing Pending a Hearing this Friday
On May 25, 2017, The Washington Post reported that Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams “granted a temporary restraining order barring the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from granting new licenses to grow medical marijuana until a June 2 hearing.” A company in Maryland is suing because the Medical Cannabis Commission “failed to consider minority ownership” in awarding permits. Of the fifteen marijuana-growing companies chosen by the commission throughout Maryland, “none [are] led by African Americans.” At the hearing this Friday, June 2, 2017, Judge Williams will decide whether or not to continue the licensing freeze until the resolution of the lawsuit.
Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (Senate)
· HB 790: Legislation to repeal the Noxious Weed Control Law (Act 74 of 1982) and replace it with the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act (Referred to committee – May 31, 2017)
Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (House)
· HB 1463: An Act amending the act of December 7, 1982 (P.L.784, No.225), known as the Dog Law (Referred to committee - May 31, 2017)
Environmental Resources and Energy Committee (House)
· HB 20: Legislation to enact a water resource fee for major water withdrawals in the Commonwealth (Referred to committee - May 25, 2017)
· HB 1459: An Act amending the act of June 22, 1937 (P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law (Referred to committee - May 25, 2017)
· "Agriculture Beware: Groundwater Future Belongs to SCOTUS" - AgWebEditor
· "LA's Urban Farmers To Get Tax Break Under Proposed Law" - HollywoodPatch
· "CDC delves into illness rates for raw milk, cheese in new report" - FoodChemNews
· "Trump administration sees four ways to help ag ‘punch above its weight’" -FoodNavigator
· "FDA reportedly mulls nutrition facts panel delay" - Meatingplace
· "Organic industry asks legislators for funds to expand domestic production" - FoodNavigatorUS
· "He plowed his field; now he faces a $2.8 million fine" - USAtoday
· "California will wait for FDA on menu labeling" - Politico
· "U.S. IS WORLD’S LARGEST BEEF EXPORTER" - Brownfield
· "FDA played by the book in delaying menu labeling, GAO finds" - FoodChemNews
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