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:
Labor: Agricultural Guestworker Legislation Delayed
On October 4, 2017, Brownfield Ag News reported that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) proposed Agricultural Guestworker Act has experienced a committee dely. Introduced in the House on October 3, 2017, the offered legislation would create a new agricultural guestworker program for U.S. farmers and ranchers. Prior to the delay, Chairman Goodlatte’s bill had been scheduled to go to the Judiciary Committee for markups on October 4, 2017. No rescheduling of the legislation with the Judiciary Committee was announced.
Labor: Pennsylvania Announces New Agricultural Apprenticeship Program
On October 10, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) announced the creation an agricultural equipment service technician apprenticeship program. According to PDA, the program will help students acquire “Jobs that Pay” through the development of “hands-on skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.” Sponsored by the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association, the program is also intended to resolve anticipated workforce shortfalls resulting from the retirement of more than 1,000 of Pennsylvania’s agricultural equipment service technicians by 2027.
Food Safety: San Francisco to Require Large Grocery Stores to Disclose Antibiotics in Meat
On October 3, 2017, the San Francisco Examiner reported that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved an ordinance requiring that large grocery stores in the city submit annual reports detailing the use of antibiotics in raw meats and poultry products. According to the ordinance, antimicrobial drugs found in meat and poultry pose an environmental and public health threat by allowing antibiotic-resistant bacteria to multiply and spread. The ordinance seeks to reduce this threat by requiring grocery stores operating in the city, which also own or operate 25 or more grocery stores anywhere, to annually report antimicrobial information to the Department of the Environment (Department). Upon receiving the annual reports, the Department will make public the information through publication on its website.
Labor: California Enacts Legislation to Limit Immigration Enforcement
On October 5, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation preventing employers from allowing immigration enforcement agents onto the employer’s private business property without a judicial warrant. Additionally, the law requires that upon receiving notice of an immigration agency inspection of employment records, employers have 72 hours to notify workers of the scheduled inspection. Failure to follow the law could result in penalties ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 for a first violation and from $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
Conservation: USDA to Temporarily Suspend Acceptance of New Conservation Reserve Program Offers
On October 6, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the agency will temporarily suspend the acceptance of new offers for land enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) until later in the 2018 fiscal year. According to USDA, the reason for the temporary suspension of new offers is to avoid exceeding CRP’s 24 million acre statutory limit. USDA did state, however, that except for offers made under the Pollinator Habitat Initiative, the agency will approval all eligible CRP continuous enrollment offers that were extended through Sept. 30, 2017.
International Trade: USDA Withdraws Changes to Apple and Grape Exporter Reporting
On October 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service announced the agency was withdrawing proposed changes to the regulations governing how apple and grape exporters report certificate information. According to the announcement, the proposed changes would have mandated that apple and grape exporters submit export certification information electronically into the U.S. Census Bureau’s Automated Export System. Additionally, under the proposed changes, the regulations would have provided for a definition of the term “shipper” and transferred the certificate retention requirement from carriers to shippers. According to USDA, the decision to withdrawal the proposed changes was based upon public comments received by the agency.
Agricultural and Rural Affairs (S) and Agricultural and Rural Affairs (H)
- Joint informational meeting to discuss the Spotted Lanternfly, a non-native species with the potential to greatly impact the grape, tree fruit, plant nursery, hops and logging industries; quarantines have been established in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton Counties and there is growing concern regarding its spread (October 18, 2017, Hearing Room 1 North Office Bldg. 9:00 AM)
- USDA Invests in 48 Projects in Local Watersheds to Protect Communities and Vital Infrastructure – USDA NRCS
- California’s Egg Laws Affecting Production, Prices – Feedstuffs
- U.S. endorses Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam – Feedstuffs
- Ag Data: Who is Driving the Bus? – Ag Web
- USDA Wants to Hear from Stakeholders about Statistical Programs – USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
- Japan Sees Little Reason So far to Revise GE Labeling – USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
- The Jamaican Apple Pickers of Upstate New York – The New York Times
- US Agriculture Often Bears the Cost of Trade Disputes – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, Farmdoc Daily
- Dicamba latest: Monsanto responds to Arkansas Plant Board actions – Delta Farm Press
- Chicago hates the soda pop tax; repeal vote likely this week – Food Safety News
- Poor Nations Need Farm Investment or Face Importing More Food – Bloomberg
- Three quarters of honey worldwide contain pesticides study finds- Food Navigator
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