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:
WOTUS: Ten States and D.C. Sue over Suspension of WOTUS
On February 6, 2018, ten states and the District of Columbia brought suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies) after the agencies delayed implementation of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule (New York, et al, v. Pruitt, U.S. Dist. Ct. S. Dist. N.Y., Case No. l:18-cv-1030). On February 6, 2018, the agencies published notice in the Federal Register adding a February 6, 2020, applicability date to the WOTUS rule (83 FR 5200). The agencies stated that the February 6, 2020, applicability date would allow the continued regulatory status quo as revisions to the WOTUS rule are being considered. According to the plaintiff’s, this action violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the agencies did not give States and the general public an opportunity to comment.
Food Safety: USDA-FSIS Announces Proposed Changes to Egg Products Inspection Regulations
On February 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published notice in the Federal register of a proposed rule amending the egg products inspection regulations regarding official plants that process egg products (83 FR 6314). 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. USDA-FSIS will accept public comment on the proposed rule until June 13, 2018.
Agricultural Labor: EPA and Syngenta Reach Agreement over Pesticide Violations
On February 12, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with Syngenta Seeds, LLC, following the company’s violations of federal pesticide regulations at a farm in Kauai County, Hawaii. According to EPA, on two separate occasions, Syngenta failed to properly notify farmworkers of the need to avoid fields that had recently been treated with pesticides. These notification failures resulted in farmworker exposure and hospitalization. Additionally, EPA found that Syngenta failed to provide farmworkers with adequate decontamination supplies and prompt transportation to a medical facility following pesticide exposure. According to the terms of the agreement, Syngenta must pay a $150,000 civil penalty and spend $400,000 to conduct eleven worker protection training sessions; develop pesticide training materials; and develop pesticide compliance kits.
Invasive Species: Proposed Pennsylvania Budget Includes Nearly $1.6 Million to Fight Spotted Lanternfly
On February 7, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) announced that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-19 includes $1.597 million in new funding to fight the spotted lanternfly. According to PDA, the spotted lanternfly currently “threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities produced in the state, such as apples, grapes and hardwoods.” PDA stated that the proposed funds would be used by the department to increase “detection and eradication of the pest; coordinate multi-agency response, outreach and training; and purchase and distribute supplies to other partners.”
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection
- Bayer offers to sell businesses to win EU approval for Monsanto deal – Reuters
- Perdue expresses concerns on FSMA – Feedstuffs
- U.S. Farm Income to Hit 12-Year Low – Ag Web
- Pa. ‘Most Improved’ for animal protection laws – Morning Ag Clips
- USDA Lowers Milk Production, Price Estimates – MILK
- Huge levels of antibiotic use in US farming revealed – The Guardian
- Spending Bill Eliminates Payment Cap On Livestock Indemnity Program – Ag Web
- California dairy producers seek USDA action on marketing order – Feedstuffs
- Beef industry focuses on 'fake meat' – Meat + Poultry
- Household usage of organic foods climbs to 30% in seven years: Packaged Facts – Food Navigator
- Deer on Bedford County Hunting Preserve, Lancaster County Breeding Farm Test Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease- Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
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