Thursday, June 8, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review – June 8, 2017

Written by Deanna Smith – Research Assistant

Food Disparagement: Jury Selected in BPI Litigation against ABC
On June 5, 2017, Food Safety News reported the jury has been selected for the defamation trial between Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) and television conglomerate American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The trial will cover the issue of whether BPI was defamed by an ABC reporter referring to their “lean finely textured beef . . . as ‘pink slime’ in numerous reports” since March 7, 2012. BPI is claiming $1.9 billion in damages, but any damages awarded could be tripled under South Dakota’s Agriculture Food Product Disparagement Act.

Industrial Hemp/Cannabis: Nevada Expands Industrial Hemp Program
Nevada Governor Brian Sandova signed Senate Bill 396 on Friday June 2, 2017. The bill allows for the expansion of Nevada’s industrial hemp research and development program. The new law allows “the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp allowing the crop to [be] grown for commercial, and not just research, purposes.” According to media reports, the new bill was among 50 signed into law by Governor Sandova last week.

International Trade: USDA Releases Latest Agricultural Trade Data
The newest report on agricultural trade data has been posted on USDA’s website. The report tracks the changes in agricultural imports and exports of the United States since 2013. The next update is scheduled to be released on July 6, 2017.

Beef Industry: Nebraska Beef Producers Committee Sues Over Constitutionality of the Nebraska Livestock Brand Act
Nebraska Beef Producers Committee (Beef Producers), “a nonprofit group representing cattle producers with feedlots across the state,” is challenging the Nebraska Livestock Brand Act in federal court. The suit was filed against the Nebraska Brand Committee on May 30, 2017. Beef Producers are arguing the act is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs’ counsel, Katherine Spohn, says “[t]he evolution of the cattle industry has rendered the regulatory scheme codified in the Brand Act ineffectual and obsolete.”

National Ag Policy: Perdue Comments on Withdrawal from Paris Accord
On June 2, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, made a statement on climate change in response to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. Perdue stated that “President Trump promised that he would put America first and he has rightly determined that the Paris accord was not in the best interests of the United States.” For more on Secretary Perdue’s statement, see the full press release here.

Soda Tax: Seattle City Council Approves Soda Tax
The Seattle City Council approved a new tax on sweetened beverages on Monday, June 5, 2017. The Sweetened Beverage Tax calls for beverage distributors of sweetened drinks to pay a tax of $0.0175 per ounce of sweetened drinks distributed. This tax excludes diet drinks. The Washington Post reported that many community groups backed the ordinance thinking it “would direct money to programs aimed at helping working families that can’t afford healthy foods,” as well as, “cut down on the consumption of sugary drinks that have little nutritional value and are linked to obesity, diabetes and other health problems.”

National Ag Policy: Perdue Releases Statement on Final Sugar Agreement with Mexico U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, released a statement June 6, 2017, in response to the final agreement on sugar trade between the U.S. and Mexico. Perdue said “[t]he agreement protects American workers and consumers and marks a dramatic improvement for the U.S. sugar industry.” For more information on Secretary Perdue’s statement, see the full press release here.

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Environmental Resources and Energy Committee (House)
  • HB1486: An Act amending the act of October 4, 1978 (P.L.864, No.167), known as the Storm Water Management Act, further providing for definitions and for effect of watershed storm water plans (Referred to committee – June 2, 2017)

Agriculture and Rural Affairs (House)
  • HB1494: An Act amending the act of June 28, 1995 (P.L.89, No.18), known as the Conservation and Natural Resources Act, in Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, further providing for contracts and agreements. (Referred to Committee – June 5, 2017)

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