Thursday, November 16, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—November 16, 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:
National Organic Program: AMS Delays Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Final Rule
On November 14, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published notice delaying the effective date of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017 (82 FR 52643).  According to AMS, the OLPP final rule addresses: (1) livestock handling and transport for slaughter; (2) avian living conditions; (3) livestock care and production practices; and (4) mammalian living conditions.  AMS stated that while reviewing the OLPP, “significant concerns [arose] regarding statutory authority for, and costs and benefits of, the OLPP rule.” As a result, AMS announced that the agency is delaying the effective date of the OLPP rule until May 14, 2018, in order to allow additional time for comment and review.

Checkoff Programs: Oklahoma Beef Checkoff Referendum Defeated
On November 9, 2017, News OK reported that a recent Oklahoma Beef Checkoff referendum had been defeated by a final count of 2,506 no votes to 1,998 yes votes.  If passed, the referendum would have levied a $1 fee for each head of cattle sold.  This fee would have been in addition to the $1 national checkoff fee currently placed on each head of cattle sold.  Under the national checkoff program, Oklahoma must share a portion of the money collected with other states that produce cattle sold in Oklahoma markets.  Accordingly, under the proposed referendum, the additional $1 fee would have been retained entirely for use by the state of Oklahoma. 

International Trade: WTO Rules against Indonesia Agricultural Import Restrictions
On November 9, 2017, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced a determination by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that Indonesia’s import restrictions on horticultural products and animals and animal products are in violation of WTO rules.  Under the WTO determination, Indonesia must bring its measures into conformity with WTO rules.  According to Mr. Lighthizer, due to a “complex web of import licensing requirements”, U.S. farmers and ranchers have been denied export opportunities to Indonesian at a cost of millions of dollars per year.  Mr. Lighthizer asserted that the WTO determination should result in increased export opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers and increased Indonesian consumer access to “high-quality U.S. agricultural products.”

International Trade: U.S. Department of Commerce Determines Argentina and Indonesia Unfairly Subsidize Biodiesel
On November 9, 2017, U.S. Department of Commerce announced a final determination regarding biodiesel imported from Argentina and Indonesia.  According to the Commerce Department, Argentina is unfairly subsidizing its producers of biodiesel at rates ranging from 71.45 to 72.28%.  Additionally, the Commerce Department stated that Indonesia is unfairly subsidizing its producers of biodiesel at rates ranging from 34.45 to 64.73%.  As a result, the Commerce Department announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be instructed to collect cash deposits from importers of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia at amounts based on the final rates. 

Pesticides: EU Arrives at “No Opinion” on Glyphosate Renewal
On November 9, 2017, the EU Observer reported that the European Union (EU) member states failed to agree on a license extension for the herbicide glyphosate.  According to the report, in order for a glyphosate license extension, a qualified majority of the ministers in the standing committee on plant animal food and feed must vote in favor of the proposal.  To achieve a qualified majority, “55 percent of the EU countries, representing 65 percent of the European population, have to agree on the proposal.” Accordingly, out of the 28 EU member states, 14 voted in favor of the proposal, 9 voted against the proposal, and 5 abstained.  Because a qualified majority was not reached, the committee meeting resulted in a "no opinion.” The report stated that following the committee’s action, the European Commission will pursue the license extension with the appeal committee for food safety.  The current EU license for glyphosate is set to expire on December 15, 2017.
Pennsylvania Legislation
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (H)
  • HB 1917 Legislation regarding the training and oversight of humane society police officers (referred to committee November 13, 2017)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
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