Thursday, March 22, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—March 22, 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:

Dairy Policy: Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Asks Dean Foods to Extend Dairy Agreements
On March 20, 2018, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russel Redding announced that he has contacted Dean Dairy Holdings LLC (Dean Foods) requesting that the company extend the agreement termination date for 42 Pennsylvania dairy farmers.  Recently, Dean Foods sent notice stating that, effective May 31, 2018, the company will no longer be purchasing milk from 42 specific Pennsylvania dairy farmers.  Secretary Redding asserted that “[e]xpecting farmers to make life-changing decisions in the span of 90 days is difficult enough without all of the complexities associated with a business.” As a result, the Secretary has requested that Dean Foods extend the agreement termination date so that the affected farmers will have time to secure alternative plans.

Local Food: Investigation Finds “Local” Food May Not Be Local
Recently, the USA Today Network reported that some food products branded as “local” under various state branding programs may not necessarily be locally sourced.  According to the report, 18 of the state branding programs do not require that a minimum percentage of product ingredients come from that state.  Additionally, 20 of the state branding programs allow the use of the term “local” if a company is merely headquartered in that state.  Also, 36 of the state branding programs do not provide for a review process to determine if a product is local.  Finally, 40 state branding programs have no record of enforcing program requirements.  The report asserted that while the state branding programs are not seeking to deceive consumers, some state officials have admitted that the focus of these programs is on “marketing efforts to promote the local economy and create jobs.”

International Trade: USDA Announces Agreement with South Korea Regarding HPAI Detection
On March 15, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an agreement has been reached with South Korea to allow the importation of U.S. poultry in the event highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is detected in the United States.  According to USDA, the agreement will allow South Korea to place import restrictions on poultry products from a specific U.S. state where an outbreak of HPAI has been detected.  Importantly, however, South Korea will only place restrictions on poultry products from those specifically affected U.S. states, and not on poultry products from the entire United States. 

Water Quality: USDA Lauds Pennsylvania Farmers for Water Quality Efforts
On March 16, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that conservation efforts by farmers in Kutztown, Pennsylvania have greatly improved the town’s water supply.  According to the report, in the early 2000s, the nitrate levels in the Kutztown water supply were nearing the maximum safe levels for drinking water.  USDA asserted that the high nitrate levels were due in large part to the town’s surrounding farms.  Subsequently, many of the area’s farmers began to implement voluntary conservation practices such as: developing nutrient management plans, installing manure storage tanks, installing streambank fencing, and utilizing no-till methods.  The report stated that as a result of these efforts, in the last two years, nitrate levels at the town’s water treatment plant have been cut in half.

Animal Welfare: USDA Rejects Petition to Include Poultry under Humane Slaughter Act
On March 16, 2018, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) turned down a request by the advocacy group Mercy for Animals to have poultry included under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (the Act).  Under the Act, all food animals slaughtered in USDA inspected slaughter facilities must receive proper treatment and humane handling.  The Act, however, does not apply to chickens or other types of birds.  According to the report, USDA stated that the petition was denied because there are other regulations in place that already ensure the humane treatment of poultry.

National Ag Law Experts:

National Case Law:
  • Ideker Farms et al. vs. United States of America, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, No. 14-183L 2018 (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must compensate farmers in Missouri for repeated flooding caused by the Corps’ activities relating to the Missouri River) 

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act:

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Game Commission

AgLaw HotLinks:

Stay Informed:


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