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:
Food Safety: FSIS Issues Guidance to Help Meat and Poultry Industry Respond to Customer Complaints
On March 8, 2019 the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced guidance intended to help the meat and poultry industry respond to customer complaints associated with adulterated or misbranded meat and poultry products. FSIS Administrator Carmen Rottenberg stated, “FSIS has placed renewed emphasis on industry responding to customer complaints of foreign materials in meat and poultry and, as required, reporting those incidents to the agency within 24 hours once the determination has been made that the product is adulterated.” Accordingly, the announced guidance offers best management practices and agency recommendations regarding how to receive, investigate and process such customer complaints.
Right to Farm Laws: Smithfield Foods Loses Another Nuisance Lawsuit
On March 8, 2019, the Associated Press (AP) reported that for the 5th time, a jury has ruled against Smithfield Foods regarding a neighbor nuisance lawsuit and a North Carolina hog operation. In the four previous cases, juries awarded affected neighbors nearly $550 million in penalties. In the latest award, however, the jury awarded the suing neighbors only $420,000. According to AP, because most the damages awarded by the jury were intended to punish Smithfield Foods, the award was limited by a state law which places a cap on the amount of punitive damages.
Right to Farm Laws: West Virginia Right to Farm Bill Moves to Governor
On March 4, 2019, Farm and Dairy reported that the West Virginia legislature has passed an amendment to the state’s right to farm law (S.B. 393). West Virginia’s right to farm is intended to protect farmers from “nuisance lawsuits” from neighboring landowners and the proposed amendment would provide an update to the law’s definition of agriculture and agricultural land. S.B. 393 now awaits action by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.
Biotechnology: USDA and FDA Agree on Cell-Cultured Food Products Regulation
On March 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced a formal agreement regarding the regulation of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. Under the formal agreement, FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. USDA will begin its oversight during the cell harvest stage and will subsequently oversee the production and labeling of human food products derived from the cells.
Biotechnology: FDA Deactivates Import Alert on Genetically Engineered Salmon
On March 8, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the deactivation of an import alert that had previously prevented genetically engineered (GE) salmon from entering the U.S. In 2015, FDA approved the application regarding the GE salmon AquAdvantage Salmon. In 2016, however, Congress directed FDA to prevent into commerce any food that contains GE salmon until it issued final labeling guidelines. According to FDA, it now believes this Congressional mandate has been satisfied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s issuance of final regulations under the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Following the deactivation of the import alert, AquAdvantage Salmon eggs are now permitted into the U.S. to be raised into salmon for food.
Biofuels: EPA Proposes Rule to Allow E15 Waiver During Summer
On March 12, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to allow gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) to utilize the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure waiver during the summer months. Under the proposal, E15 would be allowed to be sold year-round instead of only eight months of the year. EPA intends to hold a public hearing on March 29 to receive public comment on the proposal. EPA stated that details regarding the public hearing will be available shortly.
From National Ag Law Experts:
, Peggy Kirk Hall, Ag Law Blog – Agricultural Law & Taxation – Ohio State University Extension (February 24, 2019)
, John R. Block, Ag/FDA Blog – Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (March 7, 2019)
, Sarah Everhart, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog (March 5, 2019)
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:
: Resolution regarding a proposed study on pesticide exposure and poisoning, testing and reporting, and the issuing of a subsequent report (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, March 8, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture
Milk Marketing Board
Penn State Research:
– Penn State News
– Fern’s Ag Insider
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