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:
Industrial Hemp/Cannabis: Hemp Implementation Listening Session Announced
On March 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) posted notice in the Federal Register of an online listening session seeking public input on the regulation of hemp production (84 FR 7868). The purpose of the event is to provide interested individuals the opportunity to share their views on a future federal program which would oversee the production of industrial hemp. The webinar/listening session will be held on March 13, 2019 and will begin at 12:00 p.m. Individuals interested in speaking during the event must register with AMS by March 11, 2019 at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_L2G9K7cXTkayQ2O1_0AP0g.
Agricultural Labor: DOL Announces Intended Changes to H-2B Application Procedures
On February 26, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced plans to change how applications for H-2B temporary labor certification are processed. DOL stated that because of the large number of requests for H-2B visas, the department has had trouble processing H-2B applications. Accordingly, DOL proposes:
- That all H-2B applications filed on or after July 3, 2019 will be randomly ordered for processing based on the date of filing and the start date of work requested;
- That the Department's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will randomly order and assign for processing all H-2B applications requesting the earliest start date of work permitted under the semi-annual visa allocation (i.e., October 1 or April 1) and filed during the first three calendar days of the regulatory time for filing H-2B applications; and
- Once first actions are issued, that OFLC will randomly assign for processing all other H-2B applications filed on a single calendar day
OFLC is seeking comments on this procedural change for a period of 30 calendar days from the date that the notice is published in the Federal Register.
International Trade: U.S. Wins WTO Dispute Over China’s Excessive Support of Grain Producers
On February 28, 2019, the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel determined that China violated WTO rules by excessively supporting its grain producers. The WTO panel ruled that China exceeded WTO rules for supporting of its grain producers in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. According to the U.S. officials, because of these market price supports, U.S. producers suffered harm due to increased Chinese production and a reduction in imports.
Organic Agriculture: Challenge to Withdrawal of Organic Livestock Rule Continues
On February 28, 2019, Feedstuffs reported that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has determined that a challenge brought against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the agency’s failure to implement new organic livestock standards may advance. On March 13, 2018, USDA withdrew the Organic Livestock & Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule which was scheduled to go into effect on May 14, 2018. The new requirements would have covered livestock handling and transport for slaughter, avian living conditions, livestock care and production practices, and mammalian living conditions. Brought by the Organic Trade Association, the suit alleges that USDA improperly delayed implementation of OLPP and violated the Organic Foods Production Act by not consulting with the National Organic Standards Board.
FSMA: FDA Releases New Installment of Intentional Adulteration Draft Guidance
On March 5, 2019, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced the release of a document entitled Draft Guidance for Industry: Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration. The release marks the second installment of a draft guidance document designed to support compliance with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s Intentional Adulteration Rule (IAR). Under IAR, covered food facilities must develop and implement a food defense plan to address potential hazards that could be intentionally introduced into food for the purpose of causing wide-spread harm.
From National Ag Law Experts:
“Federal Estate Tax and Gift Tax Limits Announced for 2019”, Paul Goeringer, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog (February 26, 2019)
“China & N. Korea”, John R. Block, Ag/FDA Blog – Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (February 27, 2019)
“IRS Extends March 1 Filing Deadline for Farmers”, Kristine A. Tidgren, The Ag Docket – Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (February 28, 2019)
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:
HB 574: Legislation regarding farmland preservation funding (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, February 28, 2019)
HB 671: Legislation regarding mobile food truck licensing (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, March 1, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture
Interstate quarantine order; importation requirements for virus control for virulent or exotic Newcastle disease
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:
“CWD disease management area to expand to elk” – Morning AgClips
“Perdue Farms advances animal welfare program” – Feedstuffs
“Farmers Hope for Hemp Riches Despite Risks” – Pew Trusts
“More “fake meat” skirmishes breaking out as Missouri settlement takes time” – Food Safety News
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