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:
Farm Bill: House Ag Committee Advances Farm Bill
On April 18, 2018, the House Agriculture Committee announced that the 2018 Farm Bill has been passed out of committee. Known formally as the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R.2), the proposed legislation was passed on a party-line vote. According to Agri-Pulse, Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, stated that “he hopes to debate the bill on the House floor sometime in May after ensuring he has enough votes to pass it.”
Food Safety: FDA Releases Inspection Report from Farm Responsible for Recent Egg Recall
On April 18, 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released information regarding the North Carolina farm responsible for the recent recall of nearly 207 million eggs. According to FDA, on March 5, 2018, the agency became aware of a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella. Subsequently, From March 26 to April 11, 2018, FDA investigated Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County farm and collected samples. During FDA’s investigation of the farm, inspectors observed rodent infestation, insanitary conditions, and poor employee practices. On April 11, 2018, FDA laboratory analysis confirmed that a sample collected from the Hyde County Egg Farm facility contained Salmonella. As a result, on April 13, 2018, Rose Acre Farms issued a recall of eggs produced at the Hyde County facility.
Food Safety: GAO Calls on USDA to Reduce Pathogens in Meat and Poultry Products
On April 18, 2018, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report providing recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for reducing pathogens in meat and poultry products. According to GAO, “some of USDA's food safety standards are outdated, with no time frames for revision.” As a result, GOA recommended that USDA: (1) document the process used to determine new pathogen standards; (2) establish time frames for addressing pathogens in beef carcasses, ground beef, pork cuts, and ground pork; and (3) provide information for reducing pathogen levels through on-farm practices.
Food Safety: Arizona Law Extends Egg Expiration Date
On April 11, 2018, Arizona enacted legislation that changed the state’s egg labeling law to allow for a 45 day expiration date on Grade A eggs (HB 2464). Previously, expiration dates for Grade A eggs sold in Arizona could not exceed 24 days. According to Feedstuffs, with the passage of HB 2464, Arizona’s Grade A egg expiration date law is now consistent with 48 other states. Feedstuffs reported that the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jill Norgaard, asserted that prior to passage of the law, Arizona residents needless discarding more than 2 million eggs a year.
Disaster Assistance Programs: FSA Announces Change to Livestock Indemnity Program
On April 24, 2018, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced an administrative clarification to the Livestock Indemnity Program that will allow an additional way to determine disaster assistance eligibility. In the event an agricultural producer loses livestock from a disease that is the result of a weather disaster, FSA county committees are now permitted “to accept veterinarian certifications that livestock deaths were directly related to adverse weather and unpreventable through good animal husbandry and management.” Accordingly, FSA county committees, on a case-by-case basis, may then use the veterinarian certifications to determine disaster assistance eligibility.
Pesticides: Court Rules California Can Label Products Containing Glyophosphate as Carcinogenic
On April 23, 2018, Efficient Gov reported that a California Appellate Court has determined that the state may require the labeling of products containing glyphosate as probably carcinogenic under the state’s drinking water law. Under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65), California maintains and updates a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Additionally, Proposition 65 requires that businesses provide information to consumers about possible exposure to the listed chemicals.
National Ag Law Experts:
- 10 Reasons You Might Think Food’s Gone Bad When It’s Actually Still Safe to Eat, Maggie Angst, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic
- Omnibus Bills Catfish Equivalency Timeline Sparks Trade Dispute with Vietnam, Amanda Nichols, Ocean and Coastal Law Fellow, National Sea Grant Law Center
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (H)
- HB 2293 Legislation to establish the Rural Broadband Deployment Fund (referred to committee April 23, 2018)
Environmental Resources and Energy (H)
- HB 2281 Legislation to provide for municipal regulation of the deposit, disposal or land application of biosolid material (referred to committee April 23, 2018)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture
Department of Health
- When Is It Safe to Eat Salad Again? – The New York Times
- Local Courts Lift Arkansas Weedkiller Ban, Creating Chaos – NPR
- Are G.M.O. Foods Safe? – The New York Times
- Germany moving ahead with plans to restrict weed-killer glyphosate – Reuters
- Consumers mostly unfamiliar with broiler production practices – Feedstuffs
- Agriculture Officials Urge Vigilance, Poultry Biosecurity During Spring Migration – PA Department of Agriculture
- Recycled food waste in pig diets can reduce environmental footprint – National Hog Farmer
- Animal Welfare Tops List Of American Causes – Ag Web
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