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:
Ag-Gag Statutes: Iowa Appeals Ruling on Ag-Gag Law
On February 21, 2019, the Des Moines Register reported that Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit regarding a lower court determination that Iowa’s agricultural production facility fraud law violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. Previously, on January 9, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa struck down the Iowa law which blocked undercover investigations at farming operations (Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Reynolds, 4:17-cv-00362–JEG-HCA). Under Iowa’s agricultural production facility fraud law (Iowa Code § 717A.3A), any person that gains access to an agricultural production facility by false pretense could be convicted of a serious misdemeanor for a first offense or an aggravated misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense. The district court determined that the Iowa law regulated speech protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Pesticides: Arkansas Plant Board Approves Rule Change for Dicamba Use
On February 21, 2019, the Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD) announced that the agency’s State Plant Board has voted to change regulations regarding the application of dicamba herbicides. According to AAD, the new regulations would require:
- Restrictions on in-crop applications of dicamba from May 26 to October 31.
- A half-mile buffer zone required around all non-dicamba crops when dicamba is applied.
- A one-mile buffer zone for university and USDA research stations, certified organic crops and commercially grown specialty crops between April 16 and May 25.
- Prohibiting the mixing of dicamba with glyphosate between April 16 and May 25.
- Requiring applicators to provide proof of training to pesticide dealers prior to purchasing dicamba in-crop products.
The proposed changes to the regulations now move to the Arkansas Joint Budget Committee’s Administrative Rule and Regulation Review Subcommittee for approval.
Food Labeling: National Milk Producers Federation Files Citizen Petition Regarding Dairy Labeling
On February 21, 2019, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) submitted a Citizen Petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the labeling of non-dairy products. NMPF seeks FDA enforcement of existing “imitation” labeling requirements when non-dairy plant-based foods use the terms milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, or butter. According to NMPF, these non-dairy substitutes are nutritionally inferior to standardized dairy foods, and when the terms are used, an “imitation” disclosure statement must be provided. Additionally, NMPF asks FDA to provide for regulations limiting when non-dairy substitutes may use standardized dairy food names such as milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, or butter. According to NMPF, FDA action is “necessary to ensure that consumers are adequately informed concerning the material differences between standardized dairy foods… and the wide variety of non-dairy substitutes that are available in the marketplace…”
Biotechnology: DowDuPont Secures Final International Approval for GMO Soybeans
On February 21, 2019, Reuters reported that the Philippine government has approved DowDuPont Inc’s new line of genetically engineered soybeans. Known as Enlist E3, the soybeans have been genetically modified to withstand the pesticides glyphosate, glufosinate, and 2,4-D. With approval by the Philippines, DowDuPont Inc has now secured the final government approval necessary to launch Enlist E3 worldwide.
Food Safety: FDA Announces Strategy Regarding Oversight of Imported Food
On February 25, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the implementation of a new imported food safety strategy. According to FDA, other countries now supply the U.S. with 55% of the fresh fruit, 35% of the fresh vegetables, and 94% of the seafood consumed by Americans. As a result, a new imported food safety strategy has been developed to: (1) prevent food safety problems in foreign supply chains prior to entry into the U.S.; (2) detect and refuse unsafe foods at U.S. borders; (3) respond quickly to the detection of unsafe imported foods; and (4) monitor progress to ensure program effectiveness.
From National Ag Law Experts:
“Missouri Court Holds Crop Dusting Not Inherently Dangerous Activity”, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas Agriculture Law Blog – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (February 18, 2019)
“Hemp in Indiana: Today and Tomorrow”, Brianna J. Schroeder, Schroeder Ag Law Blog – Janzen Ag Law (February 13, 2019)
“International Organization Releases Guidelines for Ag Data Research”, Todd Janzen, Janzen Ag Law Blog – Janzen Ag Law (February 21, 2019)
SB 330: Legislation to exempt certain charitable nonprofits from retail food facility licensing (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, February 26, 2019)
SB 335: Legislation regarding the regulation of industrial hemp food products (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, February 26, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture
Penn State Research:
“Material that shields beetle from being burned by its own weapons, holds promise” – Penn State News
“Data consolidation threatens sustainable agriculture, says international panel” – Fern’s Ag Insider
“Today’s complex, fragmented, global food supply chains have led to an increase in food fraud” – Food Navigator
“Federal Agencies Recommend Deepening Data Set for Determining Broadband Access” – American Farm Bureau Federation
“‘This has poisoned everything’ – pollution casts shadow over New Mexico’s booming dairy industry” – The Guardian
“With fewer undocumented workers to hire, U.S. farmers are fueling a surge in the number of legal guest workers” – The Washington Post
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