Written by M. Sean High—Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:
Pesticides: Monsanto Announces Steps to Combat Dicamba Issues
On August 2, 2017, Monsanto issued an “open letter” to farmers experiencing issues with the company’s recently developed dicamba formulation known as XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology. According to the announcement, Monsanto has received “reports that some farmers are noticing signs of leaf cupping in nearby soybean fields, which could be attributable to dicamba.” As a result, Monsanto announced that the company: 1) has requested that affected farmers report symptoms to Monsanto and arrange a time for a field inspection; 2) has deployed scientist to analyze how weather patterns may have affected application for the 2017 season; and 3) will provide expanded outreach, education and training efforts for the 2018 season.
FSMA: FDA Releases Guidance Material Explaining Certain FSMA Exemptions
On August 7, 2017, the FDA announced the publication of three guidance documents designed to assist producers of Low-acid Canned Foods (LACF), juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), or seafood HACCP understand exemptions from the FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA). According to the FDA, regulations were previously established that are “specific to seafood, juice, and LACF and [that] some exemptions have been made in the FSMA rules for these products.” Nevertheless, the FDA stated that “there are still some requirements in the FSMA regulations that apply to processors of the seafood, juice, and LACF products.” The FDA asserted that the guidance documents are intended “to help industry identify these exemptions and understand the juice, seafood, and LACF regulations in connection with some of the new FSMA requirements.”
Biosecurity: APHIS Designates Seven Regions as Being of Negligible Risk for BSE
On August 8, 2017, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published notice in the Federal Register that the agency was concurring with “the World Organization for Animal Health's (OIE) bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk designations for seven regions” (82 FR 37041). APHIS stated that the OIE now “recognizes these regions as being of negligible risk for BSE.” Accordingly, the seven regions designated by APHIS as being of negligible risk for BSE are Costa Rica, Germany, Lithuania, Mexico, Namibia, Romania, and Spain.
Farmers’ Markets: USDA Announces National Farmers Market Week
On August 3, 2017, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a proclamation that the week of August 6-12, 2017, is to be National Farmers Market Week. According to the proclamation, the USDA “recognizes the importance of expanding agricultural marketing opportunities that assist and encourage the next generation of farmers and ranchers…generate farm income…[and] build community connections through urban and rural linkages.” As a result, Secretary Perdue called for “the American people to celebrate farmers markets with appropriate observances and activities.”
Labeling: FSIS Extends Deadline to Complete Labeling Claim Questionnaire
On August 7, 2017, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced an extension to the date that inspection program personnel in establishments that produce raw ground beef products, raw chicken parts, and ready-to-eat products must complete the label claims questionnaire announced in FSIS Notice 21-17. Accordingly, the new deadline for completing the questionnaire is August 30, 2017.
Beginning Farming: USDA Announces Agreement for SCORE Mentorship
On August 5, 2017, the USDA announced that Secretary Sonny Perdue “signed a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from SCORE, the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers.” Accordingly to USDA, “SCORE matches business professionals and entrepreneurs with new business owners to mentor them through the process of starting-up and maintaining a new business.” USDA stated that through the new agreement, “SCORE mentors will partner with USDA and a wide array of groups already hard at work serving new and beginning farmers and ranchers, such as the FFA, 4-H, cooperative extension and land grant universities, nonprofits, legal aid groups, banks, technical and farm advisors.”
Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (House)
- Informational meeting on Chesapeake Bay Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) and any other business that may come before the committee (Wednesday, August 16, 2017)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
- Chronic wasting disease—designation of disease management areas and endemic states and Canadian provinces order # 2
- Kids Working On The Farm: How Young Is Too Young? - AgWeb
- U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Opposes Mandatory Animal ID - Brownfield
- Farmers, Lawmakers React to Appeals Court Ruling - Brownfield
- Good News for Bees as Numbers Recover While Mystery Malady Wanes - AgWeb
- Two British food executives imprisoned for horse meat scheme - Food Safety News
- Ireland’s ag minister wants to make island GMO-free global seed refuge - Genetic Literacy Project
- Who really owns American Farmland - New Food Economy
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