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:
Nutrient Management: Pennsylvania Court Finds Local Ordinance Not Preempted by State's Nutrient Management Act
On January 4, 2018, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania determined that the Montour Township Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) erred in granting an application for a proposed swine facility because the township’s ordinance was not preempted by the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Act (NMA) (Berner v. Montour Twp., Pa. Commw. Ct. No. 448 C.D. 2017). According to the court, the NMA regulation cited by the ZHB as preempting the township ordinance “applies only to new manure storage facilities that are constructed as part of a plan developed for an NMP [Nutrient Management Plan] operation.” The court stated that because the proposed swine facility did not require an NMP, the cited NMA regulation did not apply. As a result, the court held that the Applicant should not have been excused from “the zoning ordinance’s requirement that Applicant[s] submit facility designs and legally binding assurances with performance guarantees that demonstrate that all facilities necessary for manure management will be conducted without adverse impact on adjacent properties.”
Food Safety: USDA-FSIS Announces Proposed Changes to Egg Products Inspection Regulations
On January 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that the agency is planning to amend the egg products inspection regulations regarding official plants that process egg products. Under the proposed changes, official plants that process egg products will be required to develop Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points systems and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures that are consistent with the meat and poultry regulations. According to USDA-FSIS, the purpose of the new regulations is to produce egg products that are free of detectable pathogens. Following future publication of the proposed changes in the Federal Register, USDA-FSIS stated that it will accept public comments for 120 days.
Marketing Programs: California Milk Producers Vote in Favor of Quota Implementation Plan
On January 5, 2018, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) published the results of the state’s Market Milk Producer Referendum regarding whether a proposed Quota Implementation Plan (QIP) would become effective if a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) is promulgated in California. Of those producers voting in the referendum, 90.65% voted in favor of the proposed QIP. As a result of the vote, if a FMMO is promulgated in California, the QIP will be enacted.
Industrial Hemp: Kentucky Approves 225 Applications for Industrial Hemp Research in 2018
On January 10, 2018, the North Kentucky Tribune reported that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has approved 225 applications to grow a total of 12,018 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2018. According to the report, the approved acreage amount is in addition to the 681,000 square feet of greenhouse space approved by KDA for indoor cultivation in 2018. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles asserted that because of the state’s industrial hemp research efforts, he is “more optimistic than ever that we can put industrial hemp on a path to widespread commercialization once Congress removes it from the federal list of controlled substances.”
Environmental Resources and Energy (H)
- HB 2004 Legislation providing for erosion & sedimentation agreements between DEP and County Conservation Districts (Referred to committee January 9, 2018)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
- U.S. farm bureaus outline policy initiatives for 2018 – Farms.com
- Gov. Wolf stresses agriculture’s economic impact – Morning Ag Clips
- USDA Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Release Recommendations to Revitalize Rural America – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Agriculture’s Viability Relies on Immigration Reform – MILK
- Dairy farmer sentenced to prison for hiring illegal immigrants – Feedstuffs
- Canada Officials Said to See Rising Odds Trump Leaves NAFTA – Ag Web
- Report: Pa. agriculture has $136 billion economic impact – Farm and Dairy
- Hemp Responds to Sessions – Ag Web
- Congress May Fix Unintended Tax Edge for Farm Co-Ops Over Cargill – Bloomberg
- ICE pledges immigration crackdown on businesses. Here's what it looks like – CNN
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