Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - October 17, 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:

Disaster Assistance Programs: Federal Disaster Aid Available for Farmers in Five Pennsylvania Counties
On October 8, 2019, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced the eligibility of farmers in Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties to receive federal disaster aid.  Due to excessive wet weather from January 1 through August 20, 2019, USDA designated 24 counties in Ohio as “primary natural disaster areas.”  The listed five Pennsylvania counties qualify as “contiguous counties” and are thereby eligible for assistance through several federal programs, namely emergency farm loans.  Among other criteria, farmers in a designated or contiguous county must have experienced at least a 30% decrease in a primary crop to claim eligibility for emergency loans.  Farmers experiencing losses due to quality of crops may also be eligible for assistance.  Previously, on September 10, 2019, Lackawanna and Wayne counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas.  This allowed producers in the following contiguous Pennsylvania and New York counties to receive emergency loans: Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, and Wyoming Counties in Pennsylvania and Broome, Delaware, and Sullivan Counties in New York.  Farmers have up to eight months following a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans, and the listed deadlines are June 4, 2020 for western Pennsylvania counties and April 29, 2020 for eastern Pennsylvania counties.  Interested producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office

Dairy Policy: PA Milk Marketing Board Makes Bond Claim Against Trickling Springs Creamery
On October 9, 2019, the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (Board) announced a claim against the milk dealer bond of Trickling Springs Creamery.  Under the Pennsylvania Milk Producer’s Security Act, milk dealers must secure deposits “equal to one month’s purchases,” which are then used to compensate milk producers if the dealer is unable to provide payment.  According to the announcement, on September 26, 2019, Trickling Springs informed producers of its termination and discontinuation of milk purchases, effective the following day, and disclosed its inability to pay its producers for milk received throughout September 2019 to the Board.  According to the Board, auditors are still determining how much money is owed to the unpaid producers, and that once determined, it will distribute the bond amounts accordingly.  As of the Board’s announcement, all producers affected by the Trickling Springs closure have secured alternate markets. 

Pesticides: California EPA Announces Agreement to End the Use of Chlorpyrifos in California by 2020
On October 9, 2019, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) issued a press release announcing an agreement to end most sales of the pesticide chlorpyrifos within California by 2020.  Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide used to control weeds and protect crops against soil insect pests.  In August 2018, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a draft scientific review entitled “Evaluation of Chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant” suggesting that the pesticide should be listed as a toxic air contaminant.  In light of this and other research, DPR announced its intention to cancel chlorpyrifos product registrations.  The present agreement between CalEPA and Dow Agrosciences, the company behind the chlorpyrifos patent, will accelerate the chlorpyrifos ban.  Dow Agrosciences and other companies will cease all sales of chlorpyrifos on February 6, 2020.  After December 31, 2020, the possession and use of chlorpyrifos by individual growers will be prohibited.  In the meantime, the use of chlorpyrifos will be subject to thorough control and restrictions. 

Technology: Study Examines the Impact of Inadequate Rural Broadband Connectivity
On October 9, 2019, the United Soybean Board released a new study on rural broadband access for U.S. farmers. The study is entitled Rural Broadband and the American Farmer and the data is based on surveys from over 2,000 agricultural operators.  Survey respondents expressed a need for improved internet connectivity in order to access data, maps, or internet solutions from the field.  According to the study, 60% of farmers say they do not have sufficient internet access to effectively run their business. One third of farmers stated that lack of internet accessibility had an impact on their farm equipment purchases.  Survey respondents also indicated that they are prevented from obtaining quality data to improve sustainability practices, including soil and water management. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
Brigit Rollins, On Pause: Roundup Case in Missouri Gets Postponed (October 9, 2019) 

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service 

Agricultural Research Service 

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Environmental Protection Agency
“Indaziflam; Pesticide Tolerances,” Rule, (October 10, 2019)

Federal Communications Commission 

Federal Emergency Management Agency

International Trade Commission

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

Rural Housing Service 

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

House Agriculture Committee Actions: 
H.R.4642 “To allow Rural Utilities Service telecommunications grants to be made for the collection of broadband infrastructure data by local governments, economic development or other community organizations, electric or telephone cooperatives, and small internet providers,” Referred to Committee on Agriculture (October 11, 2019)
H.Res.623 “Recognizing and honoring National Mushroom Day and the contributions of Chester and Berks Counties to the national mushroom industry,” Referred to Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research (October 11, 2019)
H.Con.Res.66 “Urging all nations to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade and to enforce existing laws against such trade,” Referred to Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4476 “Financial Transparency Act of 2019,” Referred to Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4496 “Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Extension Act of 2019,” Referred to Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4521 “Fair Sugar Policy Act of 2019,”Referred to the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4535 “Commodity Futures Trading Commission Research and Development Modernization Act,” Referred to the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4541 “To establish a grant program to provide certain eligible entities engaged in food recovery with grants to support certain costs,” Referred to the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations (October 11, 2019)

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

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture

Department of Environmental Protection

Susquehanna River Basin Commission
“Public Hearing” (October 12, 2019)

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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