Thursday, August 24, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—August 24, 2017

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:

Soda Tax: Sweetened Beverage Sales Decrease in Philadelphia City while Increasing in its Suburbs
On August 22, 2017, the Food Navigator reported that “[w]hile sales of sweetened beverages dropped by more than half within Philadelphia’s city limits following the imposition of a soda tax, they also substantially increased just outside city limits.” The tax, which imposes on Philadelphia beverage dealers a 1.5% per fluid ounce tax on any sugar-sweetened beverage supplied, acquired, delivered, or transported into the City for retail sale, became effective on January 1, 2017.  The report stated that sales of carbonated soft drinks within the City limits fell by 55% while simultaneously, similar sales just outside the City border increased by 38%.  According to the report, Philadelphia officials had originally projected that the tax would raise $46.2 million during fiscal year 2017 (which ended June 2017).  Instead, the report asserted that the actual amount generated from the tax was $25.6 million.

WOTUS: EPA Extends Comment Period for Definition of “Waters of the United States”
On August 22, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army published notice in the Federal Register of an extension of “the comment period for the proposed rule ‘Definition of Waters of the United States—Recodification of Pre-existing Rules” (82 FR 39712). According to the notice, “[t]he agencies are extending the comment period for 30 days in response to stakeholder requests for an extension, from August 28, 2017 to September 27, 2017.”

Animal Welfare: USDA Unveils Public Search Tool for Animal Welfare Compliance Records
On August 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability “of the refined public search tool that provides access to Animal Welfare Act compliance records.” According to APHIS, the new search tool is intended to provide the public with “information on APHIS’ performance of its statutory duties under the Animal Welfare Act, in accordance with privacy laws.” The announced availability marks the return of the public search tool component of the Animal Care Information System which had been “taken off-line for review on February 3, 2017.”

International Trade: South Korea Lifts Ban on U.S. Poultry
On August 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced “that the government of South Korea has lifted its ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including fresh eggs.” According to USDA, earlier this year South Korea had temporarily reopened its market “for U.S. eggs and egg products, but imports were again restricted after the [highly pathogenic avian influenza] HPAI detection in Tennessee.” USDA stated that “[i]n 2014, the last full year without any HPAI-related trade restrictions in place, South Korea purchased $122 million in U.S. poultry products, including eggs, [which had previously made] it the United States’ tenth-largest market.”

International Trade: Japan Raises Tariffs on Frozen U.S. Beef
On August 14, 2017, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) reported that “the Japanese Ministry of Finance (MOF) raised the duty for U.S. frozen beef from 38.5 percent to 50 percent under Japan’s special safeguard (SSG) for frozen beef.” The increase, which was triggered under Japan’s Temporary Customs Tariff Measures Act, applies to all countries that do not have an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan.  Accordingly, the increased duty on will remain in effect until the end of Japan’s fiscal year on March 31, 2018.

International Trade: Access for U.S. Rice Exports to Columbia Expanded
On August 17, 2017, the “U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer… announced [that] an agreement [has been] reached with the government of Colombia to allow for expanded market access for U.S. exports of paddy rice.” The announcement stated that “[a] previous agreement in 2012 between both countries enabled exports of U.S. paddy rice to Colombia, but under strict and costly requirements related to phytosanitary concerns.” Under the new agreement, these requirements have been lifted.  The new agreement also “expands access beyond the single port of Barranquilla, which was the only port previously open to U.S. exporters.”

Pennsylvania Legislation
Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee (House)
  • HB 1714: Disclosure of Certain Information Regarding Dogs Offered for Sale at Pet Shops (Referred to committee August 16, 2017)
  • HB 1463: Public hearing on legislation which will increase dog license fees and authorize a State-wide online license registry (Room 205 Ryan Office, September 27, 2017)
  • HB 1727: Legislation Providing for County Humane Officers (Referred to committee August 18, 2017)
  • HB 1732: An Act amending the act of December 7, 1982 (P.L.784, No.225), known as the Dog Law, in dangerous dogs, further providing for court proceedings, certificate of registration and disposition (Referred to committee August 18, 2017)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection: Agricultural Advisory Board meeting cancellation

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