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: Judiciary Committee Passes AG Act
On October 25, 2017, Ag Web reported that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) Agricultural Guestworker Act. Known as the Ag Act, the proposed legislation would replace the current H-2A Guestworker program with a new H-2C Guestworker program. According to the report, the version of the Ag Act passed by the committee differed from the originally introduced legislation in the following ways: (1) prior to the official enactment of H-2C, undocumented workers are not protected from enforcement; (2) the number of H-2C workers is reduced from 500,000 to 450,000; (3) H-2C workers need to have health insurance; (4) the Department of Homeland Security will still maintain H-2A responsibilities; and (5) green cards will not be set-aside for experienced workers.
FSMA: FDA Releases FSMA Preventive Control Guidance Documents
On October 19, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the availability of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) guidance documents for the Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule and the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule. According to FDA, the first document will help animal food establishments determine when they are subject to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements in the Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule. FDA stated that the second document addresses the “solely engaged” exemptions contained in the Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Food rules.
Herbicides: Monsanto Files Complaint Regarding Arkansas Dicamba Ban
On October 20, 2017, Brownfield Ag News reported that Monsanto has filed a complaint in an Arkansas court regarding the Arkansas Plant Board’s decision to reject “Monsanto’s petition to stop that state’s ban on the company’s XtendiMax dicamba herbicide for 2018.” According to the report, Monsanto alleges that the Arkansas Plant Board erred by failing to take into consideration “extensive volatility data provided to it – including data that the EPA used in its registration decision.”
Herbicides: EU parliament votes to ban glyphosate
On October 24, 2017, France 24 reported that the European Parliament has voted to ban the use of glyphosate in the European Union by 2022. According to the report, the action by the European Parliament is non-binding, but may serve to influence the European Commission which recently recommended extending the licensing of glyphosate for an additional ten years. The report stated that the European Commission’s recommendation to extend the use of glyphosate currently awaits approval by the twenty eight European Union member states.
Farmland Preservation: Pennsylvania Announces the Preservation of 44 New Farms
On October 13, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) announced that the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board has placed 3,620 acres on 44 farms into the Pennsylvania farmland preservation program. PDA stated that the newly preserved farmland is located in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Franklin, Greene, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lehigh, Lycoming, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Washington and Westmoreland counties. According to PDA, under the Pennsylvania farmland preservation program, which began in 1988, “federal, state, county and local governments have invested nearly $1.4 billion to preserve 542,800 acres on 5,213 farms in 59 counties for future agricultural production.”
House Rules Committee
- HB 790 Legislation to repeal the Noxious Weed Control Law (Act 74 of 1982) and replace it with the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act (Referred to committee October 18, 2017)
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (S), Appropriations (S) and Education (S)
- Joint public hearing on the impact of the failure to fund the state-related institutions of higher education, the agricultural research and extension programs and the veterinary medicine school (October 25, 2017)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Agriculture
- Vegetable Marketing and Research Program
- Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverage Industry Promotion Board; grant solicitation announcement and application procedures
- Chronic wasting disease—designation of disease management areas and endemic states and Canadian provinces order # 3
State Conservation Commission
- Action on odor management plans for concentrated animal operations and concentrated animal feeding operations and volunteers complying with the Commonwealth's Facility Odor Management Program
- Vidalia onion farmer ordered to pay $1.4M in overtime suit – Ag Web
- Deere wins lawsuit to protect green and yellow colors – Farm and Dairy
- GIPSA Withdrawal Draws Ire From Senators – Drovers
- Ag attorney encourages farmers to become familiar with H2-A program – Brownfield
- Investments in Beginning Farmer Training are paying off – National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
- RMI Reveals Greatest Banking Threat is Farm Foreclosures – Ag Web
- Number of illnesses from backyard flocks breaks record – Food Safety News
- EPA Administrator Reinforces Support of RFS to Senators – Ag Web
- The Emergence of Urban Agriculture - Ag Web
- How will climate change impact animal ag in Northeast? – Farm and Dairy
- Oklahoma beef checkoff referendum process challenged – Feed Stuffs
- Expelling Immigrant Workers May Also Send Away the Work They Do – The New York Times
- Supersized Family Farms Are Gobbling Up American Agriculture – The Wall Street Journal
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