Thursday, December 7, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—December 7, 2017

Written by M. Sean High—Staff Attorney and Errin McCaulley—Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

WOTUS: 9th Circuit Applies “Significant Nexus” Test to Wetland Case
On November 27, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the criminal conviction of a defendant in an ongoing Clean Water Act case.  The defendant was found guilty of discharging dredged material into a wetland.  Applying the “significant nexus” test developed by Justice Kennedy in Rapanos v. United States, the court affirmed the conviction and reasoned “[w]hether a wetland or non-navigable water has a significant nexus to a traditionally navigable water has nothing to do with whether the traditionally navigable water is healthy.”

Biofuel: EPA Finalizes Volumes for RFS for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel for 2019
On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program renewable fuel volumes for 2018 and the biomass-based diesel volumes for 2019.  Accordingly, RFS renewable fuel volumes for 2018 are as follows: cellulosic biofuel (288 million gallons), advanced biofuel (4.29 billion gallons), and renewable fuel (19.29 billion gallons).  Additionally, USDA set biomass-based diesel volumes at 2.1 billion gallons for 2018 and 2.1 billion gallons for 2019.

Animal Welfare: 13 States Ask SCOTUS to Block California Egg Law
On December 4, 2017, the Associated Press (AP) reported that attorney generals from thirteen states have joined together to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to block California’s egg law.  Enacted by voters in 2008, and later modified, the California law requires that eggs sold in the state may only come from laying-hens that are permitted the ability to lie down, stand up, fully extending their limbs, and turn around freely.  According to the AP, the attorney general’s allege that the California law violates the commerce clause and “has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually because of higher egg prices since it took effect in 2015.”

Industrial Hemp: Wisconsin Enacts Hemp Law and Broadens Ability to Transport
On December 1, 2017, Marijuana Business Daily reported that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation authorizing hemp production.  Of note, with the enactment of the Wisconsin law, the ability to transport hemp products becomes significantly broader.  According to the report, “the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has said interstate transfers of some hemp products are legal only among states that have authorized hemp pilots.” Accordingly, with the passage of Wisconsin’s hemp law, due to the state’s geographic position, it is now physically possible to legally drive hemp products between the East and West coasts.
Pennsylvania Legislation
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (H)
  • HB 1917 Legislation to strengthen training and oversight of humane society police officers (voting meeting scheduled for December 12, 2017)
  • HB 1932 Legislation requiring a reviewing agency to render a written decision on a farmer's nutrient management plan within 90 days (voting meeting scheduled for December 12, 2017)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Milk Marketing Board

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