Thursday, September 5, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - September 5, 2019

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

Antitrust: USDA Announces Investigation into Tyson Foods Following Plant Fire
On August 28, 2019, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Secretary Sonny Perdue announced an investigation into beef pricing margins following a recent fire at the Tyson Foods beef plant in Holcomb, Kansas.  Tyson Foods stated in a press release that the company maintains several Kansas plants, which created a $2.4 billion impact on the state in 2018.  The investigation will be conducted by the Packers and Stockyards Division (PSD) to determine whether standards  for unfair practices were violated.  PSD will look for “evidence of price manipulation, collusion, [and] restrictions of competition.”  The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also released a statement in support, stating that the investigation will show transparency and build market confidence. 

Industrial Hemp / Cannabis: DEA Posts Notice of Research-Related Marijuana Registrants
On August 27, 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) posted notice in the Federal Register of applications it has received from organizations applying for registration to produce marijuana, marijuana extract, and tetrahydrocannabinols for medical and scientific research (84 FR 44920).  Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), both the development and distribution of marijuana is prohibited, except by entities registered under the CSA.  If the registrants are approved, they would be authorized only to cultivate marijuana under their CSA registration.  Any conduct outside the realm of their DEA-approved production activities would be prohibited.  Before determining approval of the registrants, DEA plans to propose new regulations that will guide the program for scientific and medical marijuana research.  According to DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon, DEA “believe[s] registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study.”  DEA predicts that more strains of marijuana available to researchers “should facilitate research, advance scientific understanding about the effects of marijuana, and potentially aid in the development of safe and effective drug products that may be approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration.”  DEA has currently received thirty-three applications and is accepting written comments by mail until October 28, 2019.

Municipal Regulation: Missouri Court Restrains Law that Would Limit Local Regulation of Agricultural Operations
On August 19, 2019, the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri issued a temporary restraining order against SB 391 which would invalidate certain county laws or regulations governing agricultural operations, according to a press release from the plaintiff’s attorney.  SB 391 was signed into law on May 31, 2019, and it was scheduled to become effective on August 28, 2019.  SB 391 specifically prohibits counties from governing agricultural operations with laws or regulations “more stringent than any provisions of law, rules, or regulations relating to the Department of Health and Senior Services, environmental control, the Department of Natural Resources, air conservation, and water pollution.”   Several parties brought this lawsuit on August 19, 2019, including The Cedar County Commission, Cooper County Public Health Center, Friends Of Responsible Agriculture, and three Missouri landowners.  According to the plaintiffs, SB 391 prevents local governments from establishing health regulations relating to air emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations.  Conversely, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association has issued a statement that SB 391 provides for regulations based on scientific and expert oversight.  The court will hold a preliminary injunction hearing on September 16, 2019. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
Paul Goeringer and Nerice Millet-Williams, A Look at 2019 Land Values Nationally, Maryland, and Delaware (August 20, 2019)

The National Agricultural Law Center, The Ag & Food Law Blog, To Cure or Not to Cure: Groups Petition USDA Labeling Requirements (September 3, 2019)

Federal Actions and Notices:
Environmental Protection Agency

Farm Service Agency/Commodity Credit Corporation

Agricultural Marketing Service

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection

Fish and Boat Commission

Milk Marketing Board 

Office of Attorney General 

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:

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