Thursday, March 1, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—March 1, 2018

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

Pesticides: Agricultural Groups Granted Preliminary Injunction against California Glyphosate Labeling
On February 26, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted a motion for a preliminary injunction against California’s glyphosate regulations. (National Assoc. of Wheat Growers et. al., v. Zeise, Case 2:17-cv-02401-WBS-EFB Document 75).  The case involves a challenge to California’s Proposition 65 chemical regulations which: (1) currently lists glyphosate as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, and (2) requires warnings due to the listing.  According to the Plaintiffs, “the listing and warning requirements violate the First Amendment by compelling them to make false, misleading, and highly controversial statements about their products.” In granting the preliminary injunction, the court stated that the Plaintiffs have demonstrated that “they are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim, [and] are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction.”

Food Policy: 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines Development Process to Seek Public Comment
On February 26, 2018, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the departments are seeking public comment regarding the development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).  According to the departments, the DGA “serves as the cornerstone of federal nutrition programs and policies.” Because USDA and HHS consider the American taxpayer to be “an essential customer”, the departments are seeking to ensure that the public is heard throughout the DGA development process.  As a result, for the first time ever, public comments will be received by the departments regarding the proposed priority topics and supporting scientific questions used to develop the upcoming DGA.  All public comments must be submitted in writing via the Federal Register and must be received by March 30, 2018 (83 FR 8649).

International Trade: China Lifts Import Duties on U.S. Broiler Chicken Products
On February 26, 2018, Reuters reported that China has agreed to lift import duties on U.S. broiler chicken products effective February 27, 2018.  The move follows a January 18, 2018, World Trade Organization ruling requiring China to either file an appeal or reduce tariffs on U.S. broiler chicken products within 20 days.  According to Reuters, China began imposing the tariffs on U.S. broiler chicken products in 2010.  The lifting of import duties, however, is not expected to have immediate benefits for the U.S. poultry industry.  Asserting issues regarding avian influenza, China will continue to maintain its current ban on the importation of all U.S. poultry, poultry products, and eggs.

Agricultural Labor: Farm Labor Contractor Fined for Housing Violations
On February 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that farm labor contractor Future Ag Management Inc. has been penalized $168,082 for violating Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act housing requirements.  According to DOL, Future Ag Management Inc. provided 22 agricultural workers with “inhumane living conditions” during the 2017 California summer lettuce and cauliflower harvests.  Specifically, DOL asserted that the contractor provided housing that: (1) was below the required minimum square footage, (2) lacked the required number of showers and sinks, (3) lacked water safe for human consumption, and (4) had restrooms that were unsanitary and insect infested.

Pesticides: California Court Orders State Officials to Stop Pesticide Use
On February 26, 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Sacramento County Superior Court has issued an injunction prohibiting state agricultural officials from spraying pesticides to protect vegetation from pest damage.  As a result of the court action, California agricultural officials will not be permitted to apply pesticides for the protection of vegetation in parks, schools, or a homeowner’s backyard.  The injunction, however, applies only to state agricultural officials and does not affect pesticide use by individual farmers or private land owners.  Additionally, the injunction does not apply when pesticides are used by state officials to control public health threats such as the West Nile virus. 

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Agriculture and Rural Affairs
  • SB 1057 Legislation to establish the Pennsylvania Lost and Found Dog Registry (Referred to committee February 26, 2018)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
State Conservation Commission

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