Thursday, July 4, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—July 4, 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:

Agricultural Policy: Seven Pennsylvania Agricultural Bills Become Law
On July 1, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf approved seven different agricultural bills into law. 

First, HB 1514 revised and re-established the existing Healthy Farms Healthy Schools program into the PA Farm-to-School Program.  Now known as Act 34, the legislation seeks to educate students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade about agriculture and “the importance of choosing healthy, locally produced foods.”

Second, HB 1516 created the Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account.  Now known as Act 35, the legislation seeks to provide emergency funds to enable the PA Department of Agriculture to quickly respond to diseases or illnesses that threaten the Commonwealth’s agriculture sector.

Third, HB 1520 amended the PA Preferred Program to encourage military veteran participation in the Homegrown by Heroes Program.  Now known as Act 36, the legislation also created a grant program to incentivize access to meat processing inspections. 

Fourth, HB 1526 revised and re-established the Agriculture-Linked Investment Program.  Now known as Act 37, the legislation is designed to incentivize agricultural best management practices—regarding soil erosion, nutrient-runoff, and odor—through low interest loans.

Fifth, HB 1590 created the Dairy Investment Program.  Now known as Act 38, the legislation provides grants to projects that support the dairy industry.  Eligible projects involve research and development, organic transitioning, and value-added processing.  

Sixth, SB 634 created the Conservation Excellence Grant Program.  Now known as Act 39, the legislation seeks to furnish “technical and financial assistance for the implementation of best management practice project on agricultural operations in high-priority locations.”  Awards will be issued to successful applicants through grants, loans, or tax credits.

Seventh, SB 661 created the Agricultural Business Development Center to serve as a business resource and reference center for agricultural producers.  Now known as Act 40, the legislation also created the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to “assist [in] the growth, certification of seed and marketing of high-priority specialty crops.”  Additionally, the legislation created the Agriculture and Youth Program to promote agriculture through programs such as FFA, 4-H, and Ag in the Classroom.  Finally, Act 40 created the Urban Agricultural Infrastructure Grant Program designed to promote urban agriculture through the awarding of financial grants.

Transportation: PA Governor Approves Legislation Expanding Width Allowance for Farm Machinery and Equipment on State Roads
On June 28, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf approved legislation expanding the permitted width allowance for certain farm machinery and equipment on Pennsylvania’s roads from 16 feet to 18 feet (SB 338).  The legislation applies to farm machinery and equipment defined under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code as “implements of husbandry” (67 Chapter11).  Accordingly, the change in width allowance applies to “field equipment,” “tractors and wagons,” “trailers…designed to haul and apply fertilizer and insecticide on farmland,” and “agricultural equipment” such as “grain grinders and corn shellers.”  The legislation applies only to “implements of husbandry” and does not apply to “farm vehicles” such as tanker or cattle trucks (see PA Department of Motor Vehicles: Farm Vehicles).

Industrial Hemp/Cannabis: New York City Issues Embargo on Products Containing CBD
On July 1, 2019, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Department) announced an embargo on products that contain cannabidiol (CBD).  According to the announcement, any products containing CBD “will have to be returned to the supplier or discarded,” and the Department will begin issuing violations to “food service establishments and retailers offering food or drink containing CBD” beginning October 1, 2019.  The embargo comes in response to a statement from the FDA in December 2018 affirming that the addition of CBD to food or drink is unlawful. 

Animal Welfare: USDA Issues Proposed Swine Garbage Feeding Rule
On June 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) posted notice in the Federal Register of a proposed rule amending the swine garbage feeding and enforcement responsibility provisions of the Swine Health Protection Act (SHPA).  SHPA is intended to ensure that food waste fed to swine is properly treated to kill disease organisms.  The proposed change seeks to move the status lists of States that are subject to each provision from the Code of Federal Regulations to the APHIS website.  The comment period for the proposed amendment is currently open and closes August 19, 2019. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
“Beer and Corn Syrup: Deception or Consumer Preference?”, Brianna J. Schroeder, Schroeder Ag Law Blog – Janzen Ag Law (June 25, 2019)
“IRS Issues Long-Awaited Proposed 199A Regulations for Cooperatives and Their Patrons”, Kristine A. Tidgren, The Ag Docket – Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (June 18, 2019) 
Federal Actions and Notices:
Agriculture Department

Agricultural Marketing Service

Land Management Bureau

Pennsylvania Legislation:
SB 585: Legislation establishing the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission (Signed in House, June 26, 2019; signed in Senate, June 26, 2019; presented to Governor, June 27, 2019)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Game Commission

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:

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