Thursday, July 20, 2017

Agriculture Law Weekly Review – July 20, 2017

Written by Deanna Smith and Joseph Mooradian – Research Assistants
Antibiotics: Pew Report Provides Information on Alternatives to Animal Antibiotics
On July 10, 2017, The Pew Charitable Trusts published a report entitled Alternatives to Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture, which details ways to “maintain healthy herds and reduce the need for antibiotics.” Since the use of antibiotics has been limited by FDA Guidance 213, the industry will need to find alternative routes to promote healthy herds, a goal the Pew report aims to assist with. Pew’s solutions are wide ranging, including probiotics, antimicrobial peptides, and vaccines, among others. The report also highlights the ways that these alternatives interact, providing information enabling the optimization of animal health-care in the wake of reduced antibiotic use.

National Organic Program: Nature Valley “100% Natural” Lawsuit Dismissed
On July 12, 2017, the U.S. District Court for Minnesota granted a motion to dismiss in a lawsuit brought against General Mills, specifically concerning the company’s Nature Valley brand oat-based food products. The claim concerned the various foods’ “100% Natural” label, with the complaint arguing that, “this claim is misleading, false, and deceptive because Nature Valley Products contain trace amounts of the chemical glyphosate[.]” The Court dismissed the claim on the basis that the plaintiffs failed to state an adequate claim, concluding that the plaintiffs had too broadly construed the “100% Natural” labeling. The Court also stated that, “It would be nearly impossible to produce a processed food with no trace of any synthetic molecule.”

Animal Welfare: House Appropriations Committee Votes on Horse Slaughter Ban
On July 12, 2017, the United States House Committee on Appropriations approved the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill which did not include a ban on using federal funds for horse meat inspections. Earlier that day, the Committee voted to not reinstate the ban on federally funded horse slaughtering in the U.S.. Generally, federal funds are necessary for the running of horse slaughtering facilities because USDA employees must inspect the horses meant for human consumption. This is the second time since the original ban on federally funded horse slaughtering that the Appropriations Committee has left the ban out of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The first time was in 2011, the same year the General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled, “Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.” To read more about the history of horse slaughter legislation in the U.S., see this article in The New Food economy.

Industrial Hemp: New York Revises Industrial Hemp Law
On July 12, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Assembly Bill 8509, which modifies the state’s industrial hemp law. The new bill defines industrial hemp as an agricultural product, establishes an industrial hemp seed certification program, and requires state agencies to collaborate on additional funding for research advancement. During the bill signing, Governor Cuomo remarked that, as a state, New York could find success in the industrial hemp market, and their goal is “to be the nation’s leader in hemp productions.”

National Ag Policy: USDA Releases its Emerging Animal Disease Preparedness Response Plan
On July 14, 2017, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released its Emerging Animal Disease Preparedness Response Plan. The plan, “outlines a strategy to detect and respond to emerging animal diseases and define the processes that APHIS will use to identify, evaluate, and respond to emerging diseases in animal populations.” The plan has been in the works since July of 2014. APHIS’s plan is a response to the rise in animal diseases over the last several decades, including of such diseases as, “porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, infectious salmon anemia, West Nile virus, and more recently porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.” Of note, APHIS says the document is not intended to remain in its current form in perpetuity, but rather that the plan is a, “living document, which may be updated as infrastructure or policies change.”

Animal Welfare: Perdue Farms Announces Animal Care Improvements
On July 17, 2017, "Perdue Farms announced animal care improvements that have elevated the welfare of its chickens.” This announcement came at the Perdue Farms’ Animal Care Summit, “a gathering of global animal care experts, advocates, researchers, and farmers,” where the company promised to meet criteria outlined in the “Joint Animal Protection Organization Statement on Broiler Chicken Welfare Issues.” The objectives will be incorporated into their own Commitments to Animal Care program, where some of the welfare issues were already being addressed. Some of the new animal welfare practices include giving the chickens more space, exposing them to more light during the day and less light at night, adding windows to chicken houses, moving to controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS), and raising slower growing chickens. To read more about Perdue’s animal welfare updates, see this Meat+Poultry article.

Pesticides: Court Allows Continued Use of Chlorpyrifos

On July 18, 2017 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a motion challenging the EPA’s continued use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The motion was a challenge brought by the Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council (PANNA) and alleged that the EPA’s decision not to ban chlorpyrifos was inadequate. The court held that the motion was “premature” and that any objections to the EPA’s decision “must first be made through the administrative process mandated by statute.” This recent legislation is another chapter to the longer story between the EPA and PANNA. As discussed in the motion, PANNA filed an administrative petition with the EPA in 2007 asking them to ban the use of chlorpyrifos. Frustrated with a lack of response, in 2014 PANNA petitioned the court for an answer to their administrative petition which they were granted. In March of this year, the EPA responded by denying the petition, which is the reason for the current bout in court.

Pennsylvania Legislation

Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Senate)
  • SB792: An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, repealing provisions relating to fertilizer; providing for fertilizer; in soil and plant amendment, further providing for disposition of funds; and, in seed, further providing for disposition of funds. (Re-referred to Appropriations, July 17, 2017)

Environmental Resources and Energy (Senate)
  • SB168: A Resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing program and report findings and recommendations to the Senate. (Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy, July 14, 2017)


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