Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - October 10, 2019

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

Taxation: IRS Announces Livestock Replacement Extension for Farmers Affected by Drought
On September 30, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced a one-year extension for farmers to replace livestock sold in response to severe drought conditions.  According to Notice 2006-82, qualifying sales are limited to livestock owned for draft, dairy, or breeding purposes.  The livestock must have been sold entirely on account of drought, and the farmer or rancher must have qualified for the four-year replacement period.  Farmers in applicable regions may now delay replacing livestock until the end of the tax year following the “first drought-free year” and may also defer capital tax gains during this period.  IRS states that, due to the four-year replacement period, this extension also applies to drought sales from 2015, and further notes that the agency is authorized to extend the replacement period during continued drought. 

Biofuels: EPA and USDA Announce Agreement on Renewable Fuel Standard Responsibilities
On October 4, 2019, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced an agreement on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  According to the announcement, EPA will work to “streamline labeling” and accommodate E15 sales by advancing rulemaking processes.  Additionally, EPA will propose and seek comments on increased biofuel requirements that expand on the 2020 Renewable Volume Standards (84 FR 36762).  These expanded requirements will aim to include 15 billion gallons of ethanol into the U.S. fuel supply starting in 2020.  According to the announcement, EPA intends to finalize these requirements later this year and will include exceptions for small refineries.  EPA noted that it granted thirty-one exemptions to small refineries in the most recent compliance year.  Under the announced agreement, USDA will support infrastructure projects promoting “higher biofuel blends.”

Organic Agriculture: USDA Reopens Public Comment Period for Proposed Organic Dairy Requirements
On October 1, 2019, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the reopening of the public comment period for a proposed rule that would amend organic regulations for dairy animals.  The proposed rule, National Organic Program; Origin of Livestock, was published on April 28, 2015.  The proposed rule would provide further clarification of the standard for the transition of dairy animals into organic production and for the management of breeder stock on organic operations.  More precisely, the proposed rule would establish a one-time transition exception allowing dairy producers to convert their conventional production farms into organic production.  Once the transition is complete, dairy producers would be required to raise all dairy animals, even the replacement ones, organically from the last third of gestation.  The public comment period will end on December 2, 2019. 

Food Safety: FDA Considers the Use of Silicon Dioxide as an Additive in Animal Feed
On October 1, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed rule announcing that Evonik Corp. has filed a petition to allow the use of silicon dioxide in animal feed.  If the petition is accepted, it would amend Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 573 relating to food additives for animals.  Evonik Corp. states that silicon dioxide can be used as an anticaking agent, grinding aid, antifoaming agent, or as a component of animal feed. Evonik Corp. claims that silicon dioxide has no “significant effect on the human environment.”  According to USDA, silicon dioxide can also be used as a coating for cans and as a component in films, rubber, or cosmetics. 

Food Policy: Study Disputes Benefits of Reduced Red Meat Consumption 
On October 1, 2019, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a new study entitled Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium.  The researchers found that reducing the consumption of unprocessed red meat and processed meat does not necessarily lower the risks of cardiometabolic diseases or cancers and that many studies supporting the role of reduced meat consumption for better health did not provide sufficient evidence to justify their findings.  The researchers also claimed that the expected health benefits associated with reduced meat consumption are very little compared to the inherent challenges of changing dietary habits.  The researchers in this study suggest that adults from 18 years old should continue to consume unprocessed red meat and processed meat, contrary to current dietary guidelines issued by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Lawsuit Challenges Texas Drone Law (October 7, 2019)

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service 

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Economic Development Administration

Environmental Protection Agency 

Farm Service Agency
Information Collection Request; Organic Certification Cost Share Program” Notice, Comment Period (October 4, 2019)

Federal Crop Insurance Corporation 
Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension Rule (October 4, 2019)

Food and Nutrition Service 

Forest Service 
Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committees Notice (October, 7, 2019)

Natural Resources Revenue Office 

House Agriculture Committee Actions: 
H.R.4604 “Small Financial Institution Certainty Act” Introduced (October 4, 2019)
H.R.4482 “Protecting America's Food and Agriculture Act of 2019” Introduced (September 24, 2019)

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Actions: 
S.2568 “A bill to reform the Federal sugar program, and for other purposes.” Introduced (September 26, 2019)

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Department of Community and Economic Development 

Department of Labor and Industry 

Executive Board

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:
A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Costs of natural disasters are increasing at the high end (October 7, 2019)

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