Thursday, June 14, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—June 14, 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:

Dairy Policy: USDA Announces California Federal Milk Marketing Order
On June 7, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that a required number of California’s dairy producers have voted to approve a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) to regulate the handling of milk in California.  As a result, on June 7, 2018, USDA published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule establishing a California FMMO (83 FR 26547).  According to USDA, under the final rule, the entire state of California will adopt “the same dairy product classification and pricing provisions used throughout the current FMMO system.” The final rule will become effective on October 17, 2018.  Compliance with the final rule will begin on November 1, 2018.

Ag-Gag: Court Reinstates Challenge to North Carolina Ag-Gag Law
On June 5, 2018 the Associated Press (AP) reported that a federal court of appeals has reinstated a challenge to North Carolina’s “ag-gag” law.  The North Carolina law in question, also known as the Property Protection Act, addressed undercover surveillance of agricultural operations.  According to the AP, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the challenge, brought by a group of plaintiffs, which included People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Defense Fund, could continue.  Previously, on May 3, 2017, Agri-Pulse reported that the lawsuit had been dismissed by the U.S. District Court for Middle District of North Carolina due to lack of standing.

Agritourism: Maryland Enacts Model Definition of Agritourism
On May 15, 2018, Maryland enacted a law authorizing county governments to adopt a model definition for agritourism (HB 252).  Under the legislation, agritourism is defined “as an activity conducted on a farm that is offered to a member of the general public or to invited guests for the purpose of education, recreation, or active involvement in the farm operation.” Specifically, HB 252 stated that the definition of agritourism includes: farm tours, hayrides, corn mazes, seasonal petting farms, farm museums, guest farms, pumpkin patches, “pick your own” or cut your own” produce, classes related to agricultural products or skills, and picnic and party facilities offered in conjunction with any agritourism activity.  According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the law does not mandate that a county government adopt the model definition but is to serve as a reference.  

International Trade: EU Commission Proposes Farm Subsidy Cuts
On June 7, 2018, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) reported that the European Commission has introduced a set of legislative proposals that would reduce farm subsidies in the European Union (EU) long-term budget 2021-2027.  ICTSD stated that the intent of the legislative proposals is to “modernise and simplify” the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.  First, member states would be granted greater flexibility to determine how funds are distributed.  Second, while overall subsidies would be reduced, support to small and medium-sized farms would be increased. Third, more funds are to be allocated to address the environment and climate change.  Finally, greater funding is to be allocated for research and innovation.  According to ICTSD, the proposals are designed help small producers while also allowing EU agriculture to compete internationally.     

From National Ag Law Experts:

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (S)
  • Public hearing on PA Milk Marketing Board nominees: Robert Barley (Millersville) and Carol A. Hardbarger (Newport) (June 13, 2018)
  • SR 382 Resolution urging the FDA to enforce milk labeling standards (Referred to committee, June 11, 2018)
  • SR 384 Resolution directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and issue a report making recommendations for initiatives to assist Pennsylvania dairy producers (Referred to committee, June 11, 2018)

Environmental Resources and Energy (S)
  • SB 917 Legislation to amend the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act to expand the definition of “compost materials" to include spent mushroom substrate (Reported out of committee, June 12, 2018)

Agriculture and Rural Affairs (H)
  • HR 948 Resolution calling on the Auditor General to initiate an audit and review of PENNVEST nonpoint source management transactions (Reported out of committee, June 11, 2018)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:

Stay Informed:

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