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: USDA Provides for Importation of Hemp Seeds
On April 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a process for the legal importation of hemp seeds into the U.S. According to USDA, hemp seeds may be imported into the U.S. from Canada if accompanied by either: 1) a phytosanitary certification from Canada’s national plant protection organization verifying the origin of the seed and confirming that no plant pests have been detected; or 2) a Federal Seed Analysis Certificate for hemp seeds grown in Canada. For all countries other than Canada, hemp seeds may be imported into the U.S. if accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country’s national plant protection organization verifying the origin of the seed and confirming that no plant pests have been detected.
Food Labeling: Montana Governor Signs Real Meat Act
On April 18, 2019, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed legislation defining cell-cultured edible products, defining hamburger and ground beef, and clarifying when meat is mislabeled. (HB 327). Dubbed the “Real Meat Act”, the legislation defines a cell-cultured edible product as a “concept of meat” that is produced from a cell culture and not from a whole slaughtered animal. Additionally, hamburger and beef are defined as being derived from the edible flesh of livestock or a livestock product and does not include cell-cultured edible products. Finally, any cell-cultured edible product labeled as meat is mislabeled if it does not meet the definition of meat.
Food Policy: New York SNAP Participants Permitted to Buy Groceries Online
On April 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launch of a two-year pilot project that will enable certain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants in New York State the ability to select and pay for groceries online. According to USDA, initially, ShopRite and Amazon will provide online service to participants in the New York City area and Walmart will provide online service to participants in upstate New York. Eventually, other online retailers will be added to the pilot project. USDA anticipates that the SNAP online pilot project will be expanded into other areas of New York State as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.
International Trade: Panel Finds China’s Administration of Grain Tariff-Rate Quotas Violates WTO Commitments
On April 18, 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel ruled that China had administered its tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, corn, and rice inconsistently with its WTO commitments. The WTO panel found that by not properly administering its TRQs, China unfairly denied U.S. farmers access to China’s grain markets. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if China had properly administered its TRQs, in 2015 alone, it would have imported as much as $3.5 billion worth of corn, wheat and rice.
Dairy Policy: USDA Announces $1.5 Million in Grants for Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives
On April 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of $1.5 million in competitive grant funding for the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives. Authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill, the DBI Initiatives are intended to support dairy producers by assisting in the development of value-added dairy products, farm diversification, and regional milk production. According to USDA, the DBI Initiative grants may be used for business activities including, but not limited to, dairy promotion, dairy research, and the development of niche products such as specialty cheeses. Interested individuals must submit applications electronically through www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 17, 2019.
Transportation: PA Milk Hauling Legislation Reported Out of Committee
On April 17, 2019, the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee advanced legislation clarifying that milk haulers can travel on Pennsylvania highways during a declaration of disaster emergency (HB 915). According to sponsoring Representative Martin T. Causer, during inclement weather, travel restrictions may be placed on commercial vehicles in the interest of public safety. These restrictions, however, do not consider the perishable nature of milk and that cow milking schedules cannot be adjusted. Under the proposed legislation, during a declaration of disaster emergency, a licensed milk hauler would be permitted to travel to a dairy farm to pick up milk and to transport milk to or from a milk plant.
From National Ag Law Experts:
, Peggy Kirk Hall, Ag Law Blog – Agricultural Law & Taxation – Ohio State University Extension (April 22, 2019)
, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas Agriculture Law Blog – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (April 22, 2019)
Federal Actions and Notices:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Food and Drug Administration
Food Safety and Inspection Service
: Legislation to create Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)
: Legislation providing for Milk Marketing Board and Department of Revenue coordination on milk premiums (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)
: Legislation providing that certain fees would not be considered a “charge” under Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (Referred to House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, April 17, 2019)
: Legislation exempting fines, fees and costs under the Dog Law from being transferred to the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)
: Resolution asking the U.S. FDA to enforce the standard of identity for milk (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection
State Conservation Commission
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:
Penn State Research:
– Penn State News
– Morning AgClips
– Successful Farming
– Scientific American
– Food Navigator
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