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 Policy: USDA Prohibits SNAP for Certain Convicted Felons, Lottery Winners, and Gambling Winners
On April 15, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule affecting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility, benefits, and program administration (84 FR 15083). According to the final rule, anyone convicted of federal aggravated sexual abuse, murder, sexual exploitation and abuse of children, sexual assault—or any similar state crime—and who is also in violation of their sentence or parole, or is a fleeing felon, may not receive SNAP benefits. Additionally, the final rule prohibits individuals with substantial lottery and gambling winnings from receiving SNAP benefits. Finally, the final rule requires that state agencies verify the eligible immigration status of all non-citizens applying for SNAP. The final rule, however, does not specify the verification system that the state agencies must use.
Conservation Programs: PA House Committee Advances Farm Succession Planning Legislation
On April 15, 2019, the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee advanced legislation that would permit funds in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund to be used for succession planning grants (HB 881). Sponsoring Rep. Mindy Free (R-Lanc) stated that in 1994, state law provided for proceeds from the sale of state farmland to be deposited into the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund (ACEPF). According to Rep. Free, in 1999, $750,000 of those proceeds were used for an agricultural conservation assistance grant program. Roughly $130,000 of the funds, however, remain in ACEPF and have not been used for many years. Under Rep. Free’s proposal, the remaining funds would be used to provide farm succession grants—of no more than $3,000 per family—until all the funds in ACEPF are exhausted.
International Trade: WTO Finds in Favor of U.S. “Zeroing” of Canadian Soft Lumber
On April 9, 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the World Trade Organization (WTO) had ruled in favor of the U.S. in its use of “differential pricing” analysis and “zeroing” to calculate anti-dumping duties. According to USTR, in 2017, the U.S. determined that Canadian producers were dumping softwood lumber in the U.S. market and harming U.S. softwood lumber producers. As a result, the U.S. began to use a methodology that included a “differential pricing” analysis and “zeroing” to identify such harmful dumping. Under the “differential pricing” analysis, a comparison is made among various markets to reveal dumping practices. When a comparison reveals no dumping, a zero is assigned to the comparison. Canada challenged this methodology—citing that other methodology was established under the WTO Antidumping Agreement. A WTO panel, however, determined that the alternative methodology used by the U.S. is consistent with the targeted dumping methodology established under WTO rules.
Animal Welfare: IDF Releases Guide to Good Animal Welfare in Dairy Production
On April 11, 2019, the International Dairy Federation (IDF) announced the release of the organization’s updated animal welfare publication entitled: IDF Guide to Good Animal Welfare in Dairy Production 2.0. According to IDF, the updated guide is intended to help dairy farmers and milk producers understand and implement good animal welfare practices globally. To achieve its goals, the guide provides five Action Areas that should be considered when developing and implementing quality management systems for dairy animal welfare. The five Action Areas are stockmanship, feed and water, physical environment, husbandry practices and health management. IDF’s previous guide on animal welfare was published in 2008.
Water Quality: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Releases Latest Bay Barometer Report
On April 2, 2019, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) announced the release of the organization’s annual report on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Entitled: Bay Barometer: Health and Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed 2017-18, the report provides data regarding Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration efforts. According to CBF, the report shows the highest water quality score since monitoring began over than 30 years ago. Nevertheless, the report also stated that more needs to be done regarding stream health, toxic contaminants, wetlands, and forest buffers.
From National Ag Law Experts:
“Holdover tenant required to pay damages to landlord for not leaving rented property at the time the lease terminated”, Paul Goeringer, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog (April 9, 2019)
Federal Actions and Notices:
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
“Notice of Availability of Proposed Changes to the National Poultry Improvement Plan Program Standards”
Environmental Protection Agency
Food Safety Inspection Service
“Publication Method for Lists of Foreign Countries Eligible To Export Meat, Poultry, or Egg Products to the United States”
Rural Utilities Service
HR 219: Resolution to study food waste recycling in Pennsylvania (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 11, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Milk Marketing Board
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:
“Pennsylvania Continues to Lead Nation, Adds 31 Farms in 17 Counties to Nearly 6,000 Permanently Preserved”
Penn State Research:
“Multicultural shoppers are reshaping the US grocery category, Acosta research shows” – Food Navigator
“Land O’Lakes Sustain Collaborates On Barn-to-biogas Initiative” – Successful Farming
“Hay shortage is a growing concern for farmers” – Farm and Dairy
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