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:
Water Quality: Tyson Poultry Fined for Fish Killing Discharge
On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a federal court has determined that Tyson Poultry Inc. (Tyson) must pay $2.5 million for violations of the Clean Water Act. According to DOJ, Tyson caused the death of approximately 108,000 fish after illegally discharging the liquid food supplement Alimet at the company’s slaughter and processing facility in Monett, Missouri. As a result of this action, Tyson was ordered to pay a $2 million criminal fine and $500,000 to directly remedy the harm.
Antitrust: FTC Opposes Smucker's Plan to Purchase Wesson Cooking Oil Line
On March 5, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the agency has filed an administrative complaint opposing J.M. Smucker Co.’s (Smucker’s) proposed $285 million acquisition of Conagra Brands, Inc.’s Wesson cooking oil brand. According to FTC, if the acquisition is consummated, Smucker’s would control 70% market for branded canola and vegetable oils sold at retail. FTC alleged that Smucker’s market dominance would result in less negotiating leverage for retailers and higher prices for consumers. Consequently, FTC requested that a federal court issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction preventing the merger prior to an administrative proceeding.
Labor: Meat Processor Fined for Violating Immigration and Nationality Act
On March 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement agreement with meat processor West Liberty Foods L.L.C., for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). According to DOJ, West Liberty Foods routinely asked non-U.S. workers hired at its Bolingbrook, Illinois, meat processing plant to present employment authorization documents that the company did not require from its U.S. workers. DOJ stated that under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, employers may not subject “employees to more or different documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.” As a result of announced settlement agreement, West Liberty Foods will: (1) pay a $52,100 fine; (2) provide INA anti-discrimination training for staff; (3) post INA anti-discrimination notices; and (4) be subject to DOJ monitoring for two years.
Water Quality: Perdue Foods Ordered to Pay Penalty for Wastewater Violations
On March 2, 2018, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced an agreement with Perdue Foods regarding wastewater violations at the company’s Georgetown, Delaware, poultry processing facility. According to DNREC, on several occasions in 2015, the Perdue Foods facility exceeded the effluent limits found in their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. As a result, Perdue Foods was assessed an administrative penalty of $77,300 and $7,601 for department fees associated with the investigation. DNREC stated that to offset a portion of the penalty, Perdue Foods has elected to convert 39 acres of farmland to forest. The land conversion is intended to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollutant runoff into the Broadkill River.
National Ag Law Experts: Current Resources
- How Does the New Tax Law Act Impact Equipment Trades? – Kristine A. Tidgren, Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation
- The “F” in Schedule F: Filing as Farmer This Tax Season – Kelly Nuckolls, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog
- Definition of "Beer" in terms of ABV or ABW, by State – Amie Alexander & Harrison Pittman, National Agricultural Law Center
Pennsylvania Case Law:
Schwartz v. Chester County Agricultural Land Preservation Board and Arborganic
and 226 C.D. 2017) (Court held that the Pennsylvania
Agricultural Area Security Law does not provide a third party right to
institute and prosecute an enforcement action)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture
- Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Program Board; grant solicitation announcement and application procedures
- Russia Accused of Spreading Anti-GMO Propaganda Online – Ag Web
- Bayer Selling Vegetable Seeds Business to Complete Monsanto Merger – Ag Pro
- Dairy Responds to UK Government’s Agricultural Policy Document – Dairy Reporter
- World food prices rise 1.1 percent in February: U.N. FAO – Reuters
- EU approval of Bayer’s bid for Monsanto reportedly in the offing – Food Navigator
- EPA eased herbicide regulations following Monsanto research, records show – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Why the URA is encouraging urban agriculture with its new Farm-a-Lot program – What’s Next For Pittsburgh?
- Do backyard chickens need more regulation? – Morning Ag Clips
- Where's the beef? The cell-cultured variety is still 'meat,' says attorney as cattlemen petition USDA over clean meat labeling – Food Navigator
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