Thursday, November 1, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—November 1, 2018

Written by:
M. Sean High—Staff Attorney
Deanna Smith—Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Technology: 75.3 Lbs. Drone Approved for Precision Agriculture
On October 25, 2018, sUAS News reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a petition by Homeland Surveillance & Electronics, LLC (HSE) to operate a 75.3 lbs. unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for use in precision agriculture.  Under FAA regulations, UASs must weigh less than 55 lbs. at takeoff (14 CFR 107.3).  HSE, however, successfully received permission from FAA to commercially operate the 75.3 lbs. UAS model AG-V6A+ for use in precision commercial agriculture services including: crop and moisture analysis; spraying herbicides, pesticides and insecticides; aerial imagery; and 3D modeling.

Land Use: PA Governor Signs Bill Expanding Liability Protection for Recreational Land Use
On October 24, 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law legislation amending the state’s recreational use of land liability law (Act 98).  Under the commonwealth’s Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (RULWA), landowners who at no charge open their land for public recreational use are granted limits to their legal liability (68 P.S. §477-1 et seq.).  Under the new legislation, RULWA’s definition of “land” is expanded to provide coverage to areas including boating access and launch ramps, bridges, fishing piers, boat docks, ramps, paths, paved or unpaved trails, and hunting blinds.  Additionally, the definition of “land” is expanded to include parking and access to land areas provided coverage.  The new law also expands RULWA’s definition of “recreational purpose” to allow for coverage of activities such as snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle riding, and motorcycle riding.  Finally, the new legislation further defines what types of contributions to the landowner are not considered to constitute a “charge.”      

Education: PA Governor Vetoes Ag Education Bill
On October 24, 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed proposed legislation addressing agricultural education in the commonwealth (HB 2157).  Governor Wolf stated that the proposed legislation would have rendered “certain agricultural education programs ineligible for state and federal funding…[because] the Pennsylvania Department of Education is the single state agency that is federally authorized to approve these programs.” According to the Governor, in 2017 his administration “distributed approximately $57,000,000 in state Career and Technical Education funding to schools across the commonwealth.” He stated that if enacted, HB 2157 would have removed program approval authority from the department; thereby impairing the ability of those schools to receive such funds in the future.  Governor Wolf further asserted that the legislation would have eliminated “funding for agricultural education programs approved under this bill’s provisions.” Finally, the Governor stated that under the legislation, schools that currently receive Federal Perkins funding for Agriculture Education programs would have been required “to forego such funds, costing those schools $6,345,299.” Prior to the Governor’s veto, HB 2157 passed in the House by a vote of 192-0 and in the Senate by a vote of 46-3.

Food Safety: FDA and USDA Hold Public Meeting on Cell Culture Technology Regulation
On October 23 and 24, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a two-day joint public meeting titled, “The Use of Cell Culture Technology to Develop Products Derived from Livestock and Poultry.” On September 10, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, announced the joint public meeting regarding the two agencies teaming up to regulate cell cultured meat.  Gottlieb stated that “advances in animal cell cultured food products present many important and timely technical and regulatory considerations for [both] the FDA” and the USDA.   Accordingly, the joint-meeting’s agenda included discussions on the current regulatory frameworks of the USDA and FDA involving foods and products of cell culture technology.  The meeting also addressed the potential hazards of cell cultured meats and appropriate regulatory oversights.  Recordings of the two-day meeting are available online through the FSIS website.  Comments on this issue are due by November 26, 2018.

Antibiotic Use: EU Restricts Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals
On October 26, 2018, the Guardian reported that the European Union (EU) parliament has approved restrictions regarding the use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals.  According to the report, the restrictions are an attempt to prevent antibiotic resistant bacteria commonly referred to as “superbugs.” The Guardian stated that EU farmers have routinely used antibiotics on healthy farm animals as a way to prevent the potential spread of disease.  Scientist, however, assert that this common practice has increased antimicrobial-resistance and could result in antibiotics no longer being an effective source of medical treatment.  The new restrictions are scheduled to go into effect by 2022.

From National Ag Law Experts:
“Death of Ranch Hand Raises Important Legal Issues”, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas Agricultural Law Blog, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (October 28, 2018)
“Long-Term Leases Provide a Valuable Succession Planning Tool as Recent Court Case Highlights”, Paul Goeringer, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog (October 30, 2018)

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Act 162 (SB 1171): Nutrient management and odor management legislation addressing the Nutrient Management Advisory Board and the Agricultural Advisory Board (Signed by the Governor, October 24, 2018)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture: Rules and Regulations

State Conservation Commission: Notices

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:

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