Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture.
Farm Bill: U.S. Senate Agrees to Latest Amendments in 2018 Farm Bill
On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate voted to pass its latest version of the 2018 Farm Bill with a vote of 86 to 11. Earlier, on June 21, 2018, the House of Representatives passed H.R.2, and the latest Senate action substantially amended H.R.2, including changing the name of the bill from the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Before the bill can go to a final vote, Congress must go conference to resolve legislative differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The 2018 Farm Bill provides updates and changes to Department of Agriculture programs including those in conservation, nutrition assistance, farm credit, rural development, crop insurance, and more.
Biofuels: EPA Releases Proposed Volume Requirements for Renewable Fuels
On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed volume requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program. The EPA sets renewable fuel percentage standards each year for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel as applied to gasoline and diesel transportation fuel. Part of the proposed volume requirements would increase the 2019 renewable fuel blending mandate to 19.88 billion gallons, an increase of 3 percent from 2018. EPA also plans to increase advanced biofuel requirements to 4.88 billion gallons and cellulosic biofuel to 381 million gallons. EPA will hold a public hearing for the proposed rule on July 18th and will accept public comment until August 17, 2018.
Right to Farm Laws: North Carolina Legislature Overrides Governor Veto to Approve Changes to Right to Farm Law
On June 27, 2018, the North Carolina House voted to override the governor’s veto of SB 711 which, now passed, will provide protections to farmers against nuisance lawsuits. The governor vetoed the bill on June 25th and the Senate voted to override the veto on June 26th. SB 711 adds language to the North Carolina Farm Act of 2018 to shield farmers who are operating in good faith from nuisance lawsuits that are filed after the operation has been established. The changes to the law include a requirement that counties must have land records that provide notice where a tract of land is located within half a mile from a poultry, swine, or dairy operation. The law prohibits any nuisance action from being filed against an agricultural operation unless the plaintiff’s property is directly affected, the affected property is within a one-half mile of the operation, AND the action is filed within one year of the establishment of the operation or within one year of the operation undergoing a fundamental change.
Antimicrobial Use: FDA Releases Guidance on Antimicrobial Animal Drug Sale Rule
On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a new guidance document regarding antimicrobial animal drug sales for small business entities. The guidance document, Antimicrobial Animal Drug Sales and Distribution Reporting Small Entity Compliance Guide, is intended to help small businesses understand and comply with “reporting regulations for antimicrobial animal drug sales and distribution information.” The guidance document was prepared following the 2016 publication of the final rule, Antimicrobial Animal Drug Sales and Distribution. The rule requires that sponsors of approved antimicrobial animal drug products must submit an annual report on the amount that is sold or distributed for use.
Right to Farm Laws: Court Awards $25 Million in Second Nuisance Lawsuit Against Hog Operation
On June 29, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina awarded $25 million to plaintiffs in a nuisance lawsuit filed against Smithfield Foods, according to NewsObserver (McGowan v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, No. 7:14-CV-182-BR). The plaintiffs are neighboring landowners who complained of flies, stench, rumbling trucks and other problems associated with living next to a hog farm. This is the second in a series of recent lawsuits filed against Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In April, a jury awarded $50 million in damages to ten neighbors of another Smithfield hog operation (McKiver et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, 7:2014cv00180). The damages award in the first case has since been reduced to $3.25 million due to North Carolina’s statutory cap on punitive damages.
From National Ag Law Experts:
Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Uprooted Episode 38: Chatting with the IATP Board (June 27, 2018)
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, James v. Young: Are Landowners Liable for Horse Riding Injury to Child?, Texas Agriculture Law (July 2, 2018)
Applications for Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits and Water Quality Management Permits, Department of Environmental Protection (June 30, 2018)
Environmental Quality Board Meeting Cancellation, the Board meeting for July 17th is cancelled; the next regular meeting will be August 21, 2018 (June 30, 2018)
HB 2121 Commonwealth Budget 2018-2019 (signed by Governor, June 22, 2018)
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