Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator
Deanna Smith - Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture.
Dairy Policy: Pennsylvania Provides $5 Million in Funding for Dairy Investment Program
On September 18, 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced $5 million in grant funding under the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program. The grant money will be provided to applicants for technology, products, and best practices research. Funding will also be provided for research on domestic and international marketing and diversifying operation and revenue streams. Lastly, the funds will go to research on transitioning to organic production and value-added dairy production. The purpose of the new funding is to support the dairy industry in modernizing or expanding business to overcome existing challenges and strengthen dairy operations.
Dairy Policy: Pennsylvania Approves $0.75 Over-Order Premium for Milk
On September 18, 2018, the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (Board) approved an order establishing an over-order premium of $0.75 per hundredweight for milk. The order applies to the Class 1 price for milk sold, produced, and processed in Pennsylvania. Milk dealers will be required to show the amount of the over-order premium being paid on their monthly statements to producers and cooperatives. The Board heard testimony from the Pennsylvania Association of Dairy Cooperatives, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the Pennsylvania Grange, and the Progressive Agriculture Organization. The order will be effective October 1, 2018, through March 31, 2019.
National Agriculture Policy: USDA Announces $102.7M Investment in Grant Programs for Local Agriculture Market Expansion
On Tuesday, September 18, 2018, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be investing $102.7 million in funding for projects “intended to expand markets for local food production and specialty crops.” The funds will be administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and are allocated as follows: $72.15M to state departments of agriculture in all 50 states as well as D.C. and five U.S. territories through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for specialty crops, $13.35M to 49 producer-to-consumer marketed projects through the Farmer’s Market Promotion Program, $13.45M to 44 projects supporting local and regional food businesses through the Local Food Promotion Program, $2.67M to six projects for the domestic maple syrup industry through the Acer Access and Development Program, and $1.1M to nine projects that explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture products through the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program. For more information on grant recipients, visit the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website.
Pesticides: Bayer’s Monsanto Fights $289M California Jury Award for Glyphosate Exposure
On Tuesday, September 18, 2018, Bayer AG unit Monsanto motioned for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict to strike a $289M jury award from San Francisco’s Superior Court of California, as well as moved for a new trial. The jury verdict in question came on August 10, 2018, after plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, argued that years of exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup caused him to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. (Dewayne Johnson v. Monstanto Co., case no. CGC-16-550128). For more information on this case, see the Ag Law Weekly Review from August 16, 2018. In its motion to the court, Monsanto alleges that the scientific evidence in the case “falls far short” of the “sufficient and substantial” evidence requirements in California. Shortly after the trial, Monsanto’s Vice President, Scott Partridge, released a statement questioning opposing counsel’s conduct, which he says “distorted the facts and used baseless and egregious emotional appeals to inflame the jury.” A hearing on the motions has been set for October 10, 2018.
Local Food: California Signs Law Permitting Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations
On September 18, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation which will permit home kitchen businesses to sell their food products. AB 626 redefines “food facility” to include microenterprise home kitchen operations with no more than $50,000 in gross annual sales. Microenterprise home kitchen operations must not include catering, and the operator must sell directly to consumers and not through any retailer or wholesaler. The law also limits the home business to no more than 30 individual meals per day and no more than 60 meals per week.
Biofuels: EPA Announces Update to Renewable Fuel Standard Program Website
On September 20, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the completion of an update to its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program website. The purpose of the update is to improve implementation of the RFS program and to provide greater certainty and clarity to stakeholders. The new information will include data regarding the number of small refinery exemption petitions, the weekly average price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) traded, and the weekly volume of RINs traded. The website updates also include system updates and new interactive features.
Pesticides: Department of Justice Will Appeal Chlorpyrifos Ban
On September 24, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a press release regarding the Department of Justice’s decision to request a rehearing regarding the chlorpyrifos ban. Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide used to control pests on a wide variety of crops grown in the United States. Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) order maintaining a tolerance for chlorpyrifos. The judge found that there was significant uncertainty regarding possible health effects for chlorpyrifos and ordered EPA to revoke all tolerances and cancel registrations. According to USDA, the court’s decision was based on an “incorrect assessment of the scientific evidence.”
Biosecurity: White House Announces New Federal Biodefense Strategy
On September 18, 2018, the White House released the Presidential Memorandum on the Support for National Biodefense. The Memorandum establishes the Cabinet-level Biodefense Steering Committee which will be led by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The committee will monitor and coordinate the implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy. The purpose of the new strategy is to improve understanding and response to biological threats, which can include disease and biological attacks. According to a statement by the White House, the strategy will address biological threats that are naturally occurring, deliberate, and accidental.
Food Labeling: Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative Announces New Plan to Improve Children’s Health
On September 20, 2018, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) announced a voluntary plan to improve child-directed food advertising. CFBAI’s plan is intended to combat childhood obesity and will update food categories for added sugars, sodium, and whole grains. CFBAI intends for food categories to be more transparent and descriptive. Some of the organizations in CFBAI include Burger King Corporation, Campbell Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, The Hershey Company, McDonald’s USA, and Kellogg Company. CFBAI intends to implement this plan by January 1, 2020, to coincide with new food labeling regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
From National Ag Law Experts:
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas Beef Checkoff Facing Legal Challenge, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (September 24, 2018).
Dr. Steve Suppan, USDA Reorganization 2.0: Cut Researchers, Cut Research, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (September 17, 2018).
Senate Resolution 418: Referred to Agriculture and Rural Affairs (September 21, 2018) Adding Milk as an Eligible Product in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
Senate Resolution 421: Referred to Agriculture and Rural Affairs (September 25, 2018) resolution urges U.S. Congress to remove industrial hemp from Schedule 1 Controlled Substance List
Public hearing: Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs meeting on invasive and native species (October 2, 2018)
"Farmers urged to apply for conservation assistance" - Morning Ag Clips
"Webinar on pasture & forage crop insurance" - Morning Ag Clips
"Struggling U.S. Farmers Worry About a Resurgent Russia" - Wall Street Journal
"Farmers worry bailout won't be enough" - Morning Ag Clips
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