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:
FSMA: FDA Announces Small Entity Compliance Guide for Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food
On November 22, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the availability of guidance material designed to help small businesses comply with the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food final rule (82 FR 55503). Entitled: Guidance for Industry: Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: What You Need to Know About the FDA Regulation - Small Entity Compliance Guide, the guide provides affected shippers, loaders, carriers, and receivers with compliance information regarding such issues as training and record keeping. While not legally enforceable, the guide expresses FDA’s current thinking on the issue.
WOTUS: EPA and the Army Propose Amending Applicable Date of “Waters of the United States” Rule
On November 22, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army published notice of a proposed amendment that would delay the applicable date for the 2015 rule defining the “waters of the United States” (82 FR 55542). Accordingly, the agencies seek to delay the applicable date of the rule until two years after the proposed amendment has been finalized and published in the Federal Register. The agencies stated that the delay is intended to permit sufficient time for the proper reconsideration of the definition of the “waters of the United States.” Comments regarding the proposed amendment must be received on or before December 13, 2017.
GIPSA: USDA Eliminates GIPSA as a Standalone Agency
On November 15, 2017, Agri-Pulse reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has eliminated the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) as a standalone agency. Under a memorandum issued by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, USDA announced that those functions which were formerly part of GIPSA have been moved to a newly created Fair Trade Practices program area. According to the memorandum, the intention of the action is to improve industry engagement and customer focus.
Animal Welfare: Utah Agrees to $349,000 “Ag-Gag” Settlement
On November 18, 2017, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah’s office of attorney general has agreed to pay $349,000 to settle a lawsuit involving the state’s “ag-gag” law. The settlement follows a July 7, 2017, ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division which held that Utah Code §76-6-112 violated first amendment rights to free speech. According to the report, the settlement amount must be approved by the Utah legislature.
Transportation: FMCSA Announces 90-Day ELD Waiver for Agricultural Commodities
On November 20, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a 90-day temporary waiver from the electronic logging device (ELD) requirements for transporters of agricultural commodities. Prior to the FMCSA announcement, ELD requirements were scheduled to take effect December 18, 2017. In addition to the 90-day temporary waiver, FMCSA also announced that the agency will be providing “formal guidance specifically pertaining to the existing Hours-of-Service exemption for the agricultural industry, and guidance on the “personal conveyance” provision.”
HB 176 Legislation exempting certain agricultural structures from the Uniform Construction Code (Approved by Governor Tom Wolf October 25, 2017) (Act 35)
Agricultural and Rural Affairs (H)
HB 1932 Legislation requiring a 90 day written decision regarding the approval, modification, or disapproval of a nutrient management plan (Referred to committee November 20, 2017)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Milk Marketing Board
- Growing Pennsylvania’s Organic Farms Conference to Equip New, Seasoned Farmers with Latest Techniques- PA Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Pig Farmers Continue Focus on Antibiotic Stewardships – Farm Journal’s PORK
- Hold Off On Air Emissions Reporting – Farm Journal’s MILK
- Monsanto, Ag Groups Sue California over Glyphosate Warning – Brownfield Ag News
- U.S. audit finds food safety problems continue for Brazil’s meat – Food Safety News
- U.S. Farm Exports Hit Third-Highest Level on Record – USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
- Thanksgiving dinner cost lowest in five years – Feedstuffs
- China Tops Canada As Lead Buyer of U.S. Ag Goods – Ag Web
- Pa. Farm Bureau talks NAFTA and tax reform – Farm and Dairy
- Secretary Redding Encourages PA Farmers to Be Counted in 2017 Agriculture Census – PA Department of Agriculture
- Changes to Tax Exemptions Could Cost Farmers Billions – Farm Journal’s AG PRO
- Iowa Soybean Association joins glyphosate lawsuit – American Agriculturist
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