Thursday, November 2, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—November 2, 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:

Air Quality: EPA Issues Guidance Material for Reporting of Animal Waste Air Emissions
On October 26, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of guidance material designed to help farmers report air emissions of hazardous substances resulting from animal waste.  EPA stated that while the agency is evaluating possible changes to the reporting requirements for emissions from animal waste, the guidance material is intended to help farmers comply with the current requirements.  Accordingly, the deadline for the reporting of air emissions of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms is currently set for November 15, 2017.

Bankruptcy: Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act Becomes Law
On October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act of 2017.  Introduced as S. 1237, the legislation was an addition to an appropriations bill, H.R. 2266According to the bill’s cosponsor, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the legislation “clarifies that bankrupt family farmers reorganizing their debts are able to treat capital gains taxes owed to a governmental unit, arising from the sale of farm assets during a bankruptcy, as general unsecured claims.” Additionally, the legislation “removes the Internal Revenue Service’s veto power over a bankruptcy reorganization plan’s confirmation.” Senator Grassley, stated that the legislation “corrects a Supreme Court ruling (Hall v. United States) that made it harder for family farmers to reorganize their finances when they fall on hard times.”

Herbicides: Bayer Seeks to Deregulate GE Cotton Resistant to Glyphosate and Isoxaflutole
On October 27, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published notice in the Federal Register that Bayer CropScience, LP (Bayer) was seeking the deregulation of cotton genetically engineered (GE) to resist the herbicides glyphosate and isoxaflutole (82 FR 49782).  According to APHIS, the GE cotton is designated as event GHB811.  APHIS stated that Bayer’s petition was being made available for review and comment to help the agency to “identify potential environmental and interrelated economic issues.” Accordingly, the comment period regarding the deregulation of GHB811 ends on December 26, 2017.

Labeling: FDA Seeks to Revoke Soy Protein Health Claim
On October 30, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a proposed rule that would revoke a health claim linking consumption of soy protein with a reduced risk of heart disease.  According to the FDA, “[w]hile some evidence continues to suggest a relationship between soy protein and a reduced risk of heart disease…the totality of currently available scientific evidence calls into question the certainty of this relationship.” FDA stated that if the proposed rule is finalized, “the agency intends to allow the use of a qualified health claim as long as there is sufficient evidence to support a link between eating soy protein and a reduced risk of heart disease.”

Pennsylvania Legislation
  • HB 790 Legislation repealing the Noxious Weed Control Law (Act 74 of 1982) and replacing it with the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act (Act 46) (Approved by the Governor  October 30, 2017) 

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