Thursday, June 13, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—June 13, 2019

Written by:
M. Sean High—Staff Attorney
Audry Thompson—Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Invasive Species: Virginia Issues Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine
On May 28, 2019, The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced an immediate Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine for Frederick County and the city of Winchester.  Under the quarantine, businesses must obtain a permit from VDAS and conduct an inspection of any articles at risk prior to moving those articles out of the quarantined area.  Articles considered “at risk” include: “plants, lumber, firewood, industrial or construction materials and equipment, stone, shipping containers (for example, wood crates or boxes), outdoor household articles (examples: grills, mowers and outdoor furniture), recreational vehicles and any means of conveyance.” VDACS stated that in January 2018, the spotted lanternfly was initially discovered in Virginia in the city of Winchester.  At the time, the invasive species had not been found in the United States outside of Pennsylvania.  Subsequently, the spotted lanternfly has been detected in New Jersey and Delaware.

Rural Policy: Disaster Relief Act Apportions $4.5 Billion to Agriculture
On June 6, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (H.R. 2157).  The White House stated that the legislation allocates $19.1 billion through multiple federal departments to assist Americans affected by the numerous natural disasters that occurred in the U.S. over the past three years.  Under the Act, $4.5 billion is granted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for “agricultural-related losses, emergency timber restoration, farmland repair, and watershed recovery.” According to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, the agency “look[s] forward to implementing this disaster aid package in a fair way and working with state leadership to identify where the true losses and needs are to best serve our fellow Americans in need of a helping hand.”

Industrial Hemp / Cannabis: Federal Court Rules Against Indian Tribe’s Attempt to Grow Hemp
On June 6, 2019, a U.S. District Court in South Dakota denied the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s (Tribe) motion to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from interfering with the Tribe’s production of hemp (Santee Sioux Tribe v UDSA, Case 4:19-cv-04094).  On February 27, 2019, USDA announced that it was gathering information to promulgate rules and regulations relating to hemp production under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018—also known as the 2018 Farm Bill.  On March 8, 2019, the Tribe submitted a proposal to USDA to grow hemp.  On April 24, 2019, USDA notified the Tribe that it would respond to the Tribe’s proposal 60 days after 2018 Farm Bill hemp production rules and regulations were promulgated.  Subsequently, the Tribe filed a complaint seeking USDA approval of the Tribe’s proposal and a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to allow the Tribe’s hemp production to proceed while the case is pending.  In denying the motion for preliminary injunction, the court held that the Tribe had not met its burden of showing a probability of success regarding the merits of the case.

Biotechnology: President Signs Executive Order to Modernize Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products
On June 11, 2019, President Donald Trump issued the Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products Executive Order.  According to the White House, recent advances in biotechnology offer the potential to raise agricultural productivity, increase nutritional values, and enhance food safety.  To achieve these goals, however, agricultural biotechnology product regulations must: (1) be science-based; (2) allow for timely review; (3) be transparent, predictable, and consistent; (4) allow for fair public notice; (5) be based on risks associated with a product’s end use; and (5) promote trade.  Following the signing, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue stated that “[s]cience-based advances in biotechnology have great promise to enhance rural prosperity and improve the quality of life across America’s heartland and around the globe.” Secretary Perdue further stated that President Trump’s Executive Order “will help America’s farmers do what we aspire to do at USDA: Do Right and Feed Everyone.”

Biotechnology: APHIS Introduces Rule Regarding Movement of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms
On June 6, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published notice in the Federal Register of a proposed rule to revise regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered organisms (84 FR 26514).  APHIS stated that the proposed revisions are in response to scientific advancements in genetic engineering and knowledge regarding plant pest risk.  Accordingly, the new revisions are designed to reduce regulatory burdens regarding organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks.  According to APHIS, the proposed rule is "the first comprehensive revision of the regulations since they were established in 1987."

Biotechnology: USDA Confirms Discovery of Genetically Engineered Wheat in Washington State
On June 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed the discovery of genetically engineered (GE) wheat growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State.  The suspect wheat is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, otherwise known as Round Up.  According to a joint statement from the U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers, “There is no evidence suggesting that this wheat event, or any other GE wheat event, has entered U.S. commercial supplies or entered the food supply.” The associations further discredited the existence of commercial production or sale of any GE wheat, and refuted the correlation of any health hazards with “glyphosate resistance events in wheat based on [USDA] evaluations.” After previous discoveries of genetically engineered wheat, USDA increased its oversight of the crop, and developers are now required to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat.  Samples of the wheat from Washington have been sent to the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service lab in Kansas City, MO and the USDA Agricultural Research lab in Pullman, WA for further testing.

From National Ag Law Experts:
“Ag Equipment Manufacturers: Falling Behind Electric Car Trends”, Todd Janzen, Janzen Ag Law Blog – Janzen Ag Law (May 13, 2019)
“Tariffs”, John R. Block, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (June 5, 2019)   
Federal Actions and Notices:
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Food and Drug Administration

Food Safety and Inspection Service

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Pennsylvania Legislation:
SB 585: Legislation establishing the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission (Reported to House for consideration, June 11, 2019)
HB 1590: Legislation to create the Dairy Investment Program (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 11, 2019)
HB 1514: Legislation to revise and re-establish the existing Healthy Farms Healthy Schools program into the PA Farm-to-School Program (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1516: Legislation to create the Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1517: Legislation to create the Conservation Excellence Program (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1518: Legislation to revise and re-establish the former (expired) Agriculture and Rural Youth Development Program (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1519: Legislation to establish a state-level Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1520: Legislation to create a grant program to incentivize access to meat processing inspections (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1521: Legislation to amend PA Preferred Program to encourage military veteran participation in the Homegrown by Heroes Program (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1523: Legislation to establish the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)
HB 1526: Legislation to revise and re-establish the Agriculture-Linked Investment Program (Re-committed to House Rules Committee, June 5, 2019)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:

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