Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—December 20, 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:

Publication Note: The Agricultural Law Weekly Review will not be published during the holiday week of December 25-29.  The next scheduled publication date will be January 4, 2018.

Labor: DOJ Settles Suit Alleging Agricultural Company Favored H-2A Workers over U.S. Citizens
On December 18, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with Crop Production Services Inc. (CPSI) regarding the company’s alleged favoring of foreign visa workers over U.S. citizens.  According to DOJ, CPSI violated the Immigration and Nationality Act by refusing to employ three qualified U.S. citizens who had applied for open seasonal agricultural laborer positions in 2016.  DOJ stated that CPSI used burdensome requirements to discourage the U.S. citizens from working at the company’s agricultural facility.  Consequently, CPSI filled all open positions with H-2A visa workers who were not subjected to the same requirements as the U.S. citizens.  Under the terms of the settlement, CPSI agreed to pay $10,500 in civil penalties to the U.S. government and $18,738.75 in lost wages to the affected U.S. citizens.  

National Organic Program: USDA Proposes Withdrawing Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule
On December 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  publish notice of the agency’s intent to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) proposed final rule published on January 19, 2017 (82 FR 59988).  Accordingly, the OLPP final rule, which is scheduled to become effective on May 14, 2018, addresses issues regarding: (1) livestock handling and transport for slaughter; (2) avian living conditions; (3) livestock care and production practices; and (4) mammalian living conditions.  USDA asserted that the proposed withdraw is the result of agency’s determination that the OLPP final rule exceeded USDA’s statutory authority under the Organic Foods Production Act.

Pesticides: EPA Determines Glyphosate Not Likely Carcinogenic to Humans
On December 18, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a draft human health and ecological risk assessments for the pesticide glyphosate.  According to EPA, the draft risk assessment provides a determination that glyphosate is “not likely carcinogenic to humans.”  Additionally, EPA asserted that when used according to the pesticide label, glyphosate has not been shown to cause any other “meaningful risks to human health.” EPA stated that in early 2018, the agency “will open a 60-day public comment period for the draft risk assessments, evaluate the comments received, and consider any potential risk management options…” 

Animal Welfare: 13 States Sue Massachusetts over Animal Confinement Law
On December 11, 2017, attorney generals from 13 states brought an action in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging Massachusetts’s Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (PFACA).  According to the action, PFACA impermissibly “attempt[s] to impose regulatory standards on farmers from every other state by dictating conditions of housing for poultry, hogs, and calves when their products will be offered for sale in Massachusetts.” The action alleges that by attempting to regulate farming in other states, PFACA violates the Commerce Clause.  Currently, PFACA is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection

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