Thursday, April 12, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—April 12, 2018

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:

Antitrust: U.S. Approves Bayer Monsanto Merger
On April 11, 2018, Fortune reported that the U.S. Justice Department has approved Bayer AG’s $62.5 billion acquisition of Monsanto Co.  The anticipated merger will result in a company that controls over one quarter of the world’s seed and pesticide market.  To gain U.S. approval, Fortune stated that Bayer will sell certain assets to its German competitor BASF.  These assets “include the company’s soybean and cottonseed businesses as well as its glufosinate weedkiller, which is a direct competitor to Roundup, a central element of Monsanto’s business.”

Right to Farm Laws: Alaska Supreme Court Rules Storage Lagoons not protected Under Right to Farm Law
On April 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of Alaska held that a farmer’s septage storage lagoons were not protected by the state’s Right to Farm Act (RTFA) (Riddle v. Lanser, Supreme Court No. 7235 – April 6, 2018).  Under Alaska’s RTFA, “an agricultural facility or an agricultural operation at an agricultural facility used for commercial purposes cannot become a nuisance based on changes in surroundings if it was not a nuisance when it started” (AS 09.45.235(a)).  The court held that the RTFA did not apply because the farmer’s septage lagoons were not used as part of the farmer’s agricultural operation.  Instead, the lagoons were used to store septage from the farmer’s separate septic pumping and storing business.  The court held that even if the storage lagoons eventually became part of the agricultural operation, the lagoons were not used, or intended to be used, “in any farming capacity until after the lagoons had already become a nuisance.”

Agricultural Labor: ICE Raids Tennessee Meat-Processing Facility
On April 6, 2018, the Washington Post reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested 97 immigrants at a meat-processing facility in Tennessee.  According to an ICE spokesperson, all 97 immigrants were arrested under suspicion of being in the country illegally.  The report stated that federal agents began investigating the meat-processing facility after bank employees noticed the company making large weekly withdraws of cash.  Accordingly, since 2008, the meat-processing facility’s total weekly cash withdraws have exceeded $25 million.  

Dairy Policy: Agriculture Department Asks Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to Consider Reforms
On April 5, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) announced it has requested that the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board consider solutions to challenges currently faced by the Commonwealth’s dairy industry.  According to PDA, over the last two years, Pennsylvania dairy producers have experienced declining milk prices due to “sustained pressures on domestic and international markets, declining fluid milk consumption, and growing production levels.” In an effort to help these struggling producers, PDA stated that a formal petition has been submitted to the Milk Marketing Board requesting a hearing to consider potential reforms.

Farmland Preservation: Rhode Island Announces Farmland Purchase Program
On April 4, 2018, the Associated Press reported that Rhode Island will begin a program designed to help new farmers purchase farmland.  According to the report, the state will use farmland preservation funds to purchase farms at full appraised value; taking into consideration the land’s value if developed.  Following purchase, Rhode Island will then sell the land to new farmers at a price based on the land’s appraised agricultural value.  Land purchased through the program must remain in farming.    

National Ag Law Experts:

 Pennsylvania Case Law:

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (S)
  • SB 1076  Legislation to expand and increase the Farmers’ Market Development Program (referred to committee April 6, 2018)

 Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Independent Regulatory Review Commission

 AgLaw HotLinks:

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