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: Study Provides Strategy for Dairy Industry Growth
On January 23, 2019, the International Dairy Foods Association announced the release of a new research study regarding future growth for the dairy industry. Conducted by McKinsey & Company, the study called for domestic innovation, supply chain revisions, exports to foreign markets with dairy deficits, and direct investments in foreign markets with dairy deficits. According to McKinsey & Company, while dairy companies are currently better positioned to address domestic issues, future growth depends on global expansion; particularly expansion into African and Asian markets.
Agricultural Labor: OSHA Lessens Injury and Illness Reporting Requirements
On January 25, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule reducing workplace injury and illness tracking requirements for large businesses (84 FR 380). Accordingly, establishments with 250 or more employees are no longer required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) to OSHA. Such establishments, however, are still required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). The change is intended to protect sensitive worker information from the risk of potential public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Pesticides: Judge Allows Evidence Alleging Monsanto Sought to Influence Glyphosate Studies
On January 28, 2019, Reuters reported that a U.S. district judge has permitted “controversial evidence” in three separate lawsuits alleging that the glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer causes cancer. According to the report, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria has ruled that the plaintiffs can introduce evidence alleging that Monsanto had attempted to “ghostwrite studies and influence the findings of scientists and regulators during the first phase of upcoming trials.” According to Reuters, of the currently 9,300 Roundup case nationwide, 620 are before judge Chhabria.
Invasive Species: Researchers Discover Breakthrough Regarding Mite Harming Honey Bee Population
On January 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced that researchers have discovered that previously held beliefs regarding a pest affecting the honey bee population were incorrect. According to ARS, scientists have determined that the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) feeds on the honey bee’s fat body tissue rather than on its “blood” (hemolymph) as previously believed. ARS stated that this discovery provides “the first direct evidence that Varroa mites feed on adult bees, not just the larvae and pupae.” ARS believes that this finding will help in the development of more effective pesticides and other treatments used to combat the Varroa mite.
Biosecurity: USDA Confirms Virulent Newcastle Disease in Utah Poultry Flock
On January 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of virulent Newcastle disease in a small flock of backyard exhibition chickens in Utah. According to APHIS, the outbreak is believed to be connected to a recent outbreak in Los Angeles County, California because three of the birds in the flock had recently been moved to Utah from Los Angeles County. APHIS stated that virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern and that no human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products.
From National Ag Law Experts:
“‘Ag Gag’ Litigation”, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas Agriculture Law Blog – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (January 21, 2019)
“You Can't Make Everybody Happy All the Time: the Costco Chicken Story”, Brianna J. Schroeder, Schroeder Ag Law Blog – Janzen Ag Law (January 21, 2019)
“Stay in Control: Good LLC Governance”, Cari Rincker, Rincker Law Blog – Rincker Law PLLC (January 25, 2019)
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
SB 85: Legislation regarding licensing fee exemptions for certain service dogs (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee January 24, 2019)
HB 210: Legislation regarding pesticide labeling (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee January 28, 2019)
HB 238: Legislation regarding the adoption of research animals (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee January 28, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture
State Conservation Commission
Action on odor management plans for concentrated animal operations and concentrated animal feeding operations and volunteers complying with the Commonwealth's Facility Odor Management Program
Penn State Research:
“Without habitat management, small land parcels do not protect birds” – Penn State News
“Undocumented dairy worker agrees to $1m settlement” – Feedstuffs
“Farm Bureau Adopts Policies on Government Shutdown, Trade, Opioids, Cell-Based Food and Broadband” – American Farm Bureau Federation
“Vertical farming: A sustainable solution to food insecurity?” – Food Navigator
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