Organic Agriculture: DOJ Indicts Multiple Companies and Individuals for Organic Fraud
On January 6, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of two Dubai-based agricultural companies and three Turkish residents for conspiring to export non-organic grain labeled as “organic” into the United States. The defendants are charged with conspiracy, smuggling, and wire fraud. According to the announcement, in 2016, the defendants “shipped 16,250 [metric tons] of non-organic soybeans falsely labeled as ‘organic’ from Turkey to the United States where they were sold for over $10 million.” The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. United States v. Hakan Agro DMCC, No.1:22-cr-00274.
Antitrust: Additional Lawsuits Consolidated into In Re Pork Antitrust Litigation
On January 4, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota issued an opinion and order consolidating the case Maximum Quality Foods, Inc. v. Agri Stats, Inc., No. 0:23-cv-00014 into the class action multi-district litigation In Re: Pork Antitrust Litigation, No. 0:21-md-02998. Previously, on December 27, 2022, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued a conditional transfer order transferring Maximum Quality Foods to the Minnesota District Court. For more on this case, see the Ag Law Center’s issue tracker, In re Pork Antitrust Litigation.
Industrial Hemp: USDA Extends Deadline for DEA-Approved Hemp Testing Until December 31, 2023
On December 6, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) announced that enforcement of the requirement that all hemp be tested by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-registered laboratory be delayed. This requirement, originally set to take place on January 1, 2023, will not be enforced until December 31, 2023. Until December 31, 2023, producers may test their hemp using non-DEA registered labs. More information and a list of DEA-registered labs can be found here.
Food Safety: FDA Publishes 2022 Food Code
On December 28, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published the 2022 edition of the FDA Food Code. The Food Code is a set of national standards and guidelines for food products offered to mitigate foodborne illnesses through retail and food service programs. According to the FDA, the updated 2022 Food Code includes initiatives in accordance with the Biden Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health which aims to end hunger and diet-related illnesses. More information on the 2022 Food Code can be found here, and a summary of the changes here.
Food Safety: FDA Updates Preharvest Water Treatment Development & Registration
On January 6, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced updates to the protocol for the development and registration of treatments for preharvest water. This update removes Listeria monocytogenes from the organism test panel. An updated version of the protocol can be found here.
Food Labeling: FDA Adds Sesame to List of Major Food Allergens
On January 1, 2023, sesame became the ninth allergen on the list of major food allergens under the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act (FASTER) of 2021 (S.578). Also on the list are milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. On December 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a constituent update reminding food manufacturers of the January 1, 2023, implementation date.
Animal Welfare: USDA Publishes Report on Animal Welfare & Confinement Laws
On December 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) published a report titled “State Policies for Farm Animal Welfare in Production Practices of U.S. Livestock and Poultry Industries: An Overview.” The report analyzes the current attributes, implementation, and legal challenges of animal welfare and confinement policies in the 14 states that have such laws.
Animal Welfare: Colorado ‘Cage-Free’ Egg Law Becomes Effective Jan. 1, 2023
On January 1, 2023, the Colorado statute formerly known as HB20-1343, titled ”Concerning Confinement Standards for Egg-laying Hens Whose Eggs are Sold,” became effective. The act, originally passed in 2020, outlines confinement standards for farm owners of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, or guinea fowl hens, collectively (hens). These standards require that by January 1, 2025, farmers will confine hens in cage-free housing systems with at least one square foot of usable floor space per hen or 1.5 square feet of usable floor space per hen if the hens do not have free access to vertical space. Several purposes, such as medical research and veterinary procedures, are exempt from these standards. More information can be found here.
Local Agricultural Policy: Pennsylvania Issues Revised Order Re: Hayride Registration Variance
On January 7, 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin (53 Pa.B. 22) a revised order (“variance”) exempting hayride attraction owners and operators from the Amusement Ride Inspection Act requirement in the annual registration process to submit a professional engineer’s verification of compliance with the Act and its regulations. A prior order was published in March 2022 (52 Pa.B. 1362). The revised order excludes from hayride attractions “[a] tow vehicle pulling a wagon or trailer for the purpose of transporting passengers to and from locations for convenience, ease of access or for safety, such as transporting passengers from parking areas and transporting passengers over long or difficult terrain.” For more information, see Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s PDA Hayride Attraction Regulation Documents & FAQs.
Avian Influenza: Pennsylvania Recommends All Poultry Housed Indoors
On January 9, 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services issued a recommendation that all poultry be maintained indoors and that producers implement strict biosecurity practices. Historically, the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the summer of 2015 preceded a spike in HPAI cases during the following winter.
Technology: American Farm Bureau & John Deere Sign Right to Repair MOU
On January 8, 2023, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFDF) and John Deere signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at allowing farmers and private mechanics to repair John Deere products. This MOU eliminates the requirement that only John Deere authorized repair technicians diagnose and repair John Deere products. Additionally, farmers and private mechanics will be provided access to the necessary tools, parts, and software needed to make repairs. This MOU comes amidst a complaint filed by the National Farmers Union, and several state affiliates, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on March 3, 2022, which asked the FTC to investigate potential antitrust violations inherent in John Deere’s restrictive repair policies.
CENTER PROGRAMS & RESOURCES
Dairy Quarterly Legal Webinar. A free quarterly Zoom webinar series covering U.S. dairy industry legal and regulatory developments with an in-depth focus topic presentation. One hour of substantive CLE credit available for Pennsylvania-licensed attorneys at no charge. Recordings and materials from the series, more information, and registration available here. Next in the series:
- Jan. 17, 2023, noon ET: Interstate Regulation of Milk Production and Processing: An Overview of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and Interstate Milk Shippers Program.
Understanding Agricultural Law. A free monthly Zoom webinar series for all agricultural and rural business advisors. One hour of substantive CLE credit available for Pennsylvania-licensed attorneys at no charge. Recordings and materials from the series, more information, and registration available here. Next in the series:
- Jan. 27, 2023, noon ET: Understanding the Basics of Agricultural Finance
Resources of Interest:
- Law & Tax’n Blog, Top Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2022 – Part 1, Roger A. McEowen (Jan. 1, 2023).
- Law & Tax’n Blog, Top Ag Law and Developments of 2022 – Part 2, Roger A. McEowen (Jan. 6, 2023).
- Law & Tax’n Blog, Here Come the Feds: EPA Final Rule Defining Waters of the United States – Again, Roger A. McEowen (Jan. 2, 2023).
- Nat’l Agric. Law Ctr., WOTUS Update: EPA Releases Highly Anticipated Final Rule to Redefine ‘Waters of the United States,’ Brigit Rollins (Jan. 5, 2023).
- Ohio St. Univ. Ext. Farm Off. Blog, What is an Attorney?, Robert Moore (Jan. 5, 2023).
- Iowa St. Univ. Ctr. Agric. Law & Tax’n, North Carolina Supreme Court Denies Appeal Challenging Right to Farm Act, Kitt Tovar Jensen (Jan. 4, 2023).
- Md. Risk Mgmt. Educ. Blog, MDH Offers Free, Online Cottage Food Business Workshop, Nicole Cook (Jan. 3, 2023).
- A&M Agric. Law Blog, Top Blog Posts & Podcast Episodes for 2022, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet (Jan. 2, 2023).
- of Ill.’s FarmdocDaily, A Non-Decreasing Interest Rate Environment and Agriculture, Gary Schnitkey, Nick Paulson (Jan. 3, 2023).
- Iowa State Ext., Stocking Rates: Calculating How Many Horses a Pasture Can Maintain (Jan. 5, 2023).
- Sustainable Agric. Research & Educ., Transitioning to Organic Production, (Jan. 9, 2023).
- FDA, Investigations of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks—Active Investigations; Closed Investigations 2022, 2021 and 2020 (end of year update of Jan. 4, 2023).
- CDC, Active Investigations of Multistate Foodborne Outbreaks—Current Outbreak List (end of year update of Dec. 28, 2022).
- USDA FSIS, Outbreak Investigations: Response (end of year update of Jan. 4, 2023).
- House, Equal Rights for Agricultural Workers in Pennsylvania Co-Sponsorship Memo and last legislative session’s HB 1036 (Dec. 29, 2023).
- See also, Lancaster Farming, Pennsylvania Lawmakers Want Overtime for Farm Workers, Phillip Gruber (Jan. 5, 2023).
- House, Fresh Food Financing Initiative Co-Sponsorship Memo (Jan. 3, 2023).
Events of Interest
- USDA, 99th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 23-24, 2023, free with registration.
- Planning with Agrivoltaics in Mind webinar series: According to Cornell Extension’s press release: “This four-part series, hosted by Penn State, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the NY & PA Farm Bureaus, is designed to assist local and municipal officials in better understanding agrivoltaics and how to consider and discuss dual use as they make planning decisions.”
- Jan. 5: Preserving Agriculture in the Face of Growing Solar Development
- Jan. 19: Overview of Agrivoltaics
- Feb. 2: Planning with Agrivoltaics in Mind
- Feb. 16: Series Q&A
Penn State News, Research & Resources:
- PSU Ext., Want to Make a Change on Your Farm? (Jan. 5, 2023).
- PSU Ext., Winter Scouting for Ornamental Plant Problems (Jan. 5, 2023).
- PSU Ext., Start-up Guidelines for Vegetable Greenhouses (Jan. 5, 2023).
- Study sheds light on how ‘forever chemicals’ travel in groundwater (Jan. 4, 2023).
- PSU Ext., Penn State Extension Specialists and Educators Present at 2023 Winter Turf Conferences (Jan. 4, 2023).
- PSU Ext., Four New Year Resolutions Every Landscape Contractor Should Consider (Jan. 3, 2023).
- PSU Ext., Understanding Horseweed Emergence Patterns Remains Key to Control (Jan. 3, 2023).
- PSU Ext., What’s New for Agronomic Weed Control in 2023 (Jan. 3, 2023).
Agriculture-Related Legislative Hearings and Reports
No new hearings or reports this week.
Top #AgLaw HotLinks Dec. 31– Jan. 6, 2022:
- “Farm Bill Backdrop: ‘Pace of New Legislation is Expected to Slow,’ as Divided Government Returns, Farm Policy News.
- Agriculture Secretary Releases Guidance For Farms And Rural Communities Considering Solar Energy Production, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
- Farm Bill year begins, Brownfield.
- Is peanut butter healthy? Not according to new FDA rules, says the Peanut Federation, Food Navigator.
- 3rd Annual PA Farm Show Agricultural Law Symposium, Morning Ag Clips.
Pennsylvania Farm/Food Employers’ Listserv (PFEL) is a human resources networking group exclusively for farm and food employers. Subscribe by email with “subscribe” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) PRESS RELEASES
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) PRESS RELEASES
USDA AGENCY PRESS RELEASES:
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Agency (APHIS)
Farm Service Agency (FAS)
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
Export Sales to Mexico and Unknown Destinations (Jan. 6, 2023).
Food for Progress Program – FY 2021 Report to Congress (Jan. 4, 2023).
Export Sales to Unknown Destinations (Jan. 4, 2023).
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Battling Exotic Ant Pests in American Samoa (Jan. 5, 2023).
Reflecting on the Successes of 2022 (Jan. 3, 2023).
FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register Jan. 3–6, 2022):
Agricultural Marketing Service
88 FR 16 Proposed Rule—Public Comment: “Kiwifruit Grown in California; Increased Assessment Rate” (Jan. 3, 2023).
88 FR 18 Proposed Rule—Public Comment: “Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Salable Quantities and Allotment Percentages for the 2023-2024 Marketing Year” (Jan. 3, 2023).
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
88 FR 44 Notice: “Notice of Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Release of Ganaspis brasiliensis” (Jan. 3, 2023).
Environmental Protection Agency
88 FR 990 Final Rule: “Extract of Caesalpinia Spinosa; Exemption From the Requirement of a Tolerance” (Jan. 5, 2023).
88 FR 353 Notice—Public Comment: “Pesticide Product Registration; Receipt of Applications for New Active Ingredients November 2022” (Jan 4, 2023).
88 FR 352 Notice—Public Comment: “Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; National Estuary Program (Renewal)” (Jan. 4, 2023).
88 FR 38 Proposed Rule—Public Comment: “Receipt of a Pesticide Petition Filed for Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various Commodities November 2022” (Jan. 3, 2023).
88 FR 71 Notice—Public Comment: “Pesticide Product Registration; Receipt of Applications for New Uses, November 2022” (Jan. 3, 2023).
Farm Credit Administration
88 FR 861 Notice: “Sunshine Act Meetings” (Jan. 5, 2023).
Food and Nutrition Service
88 FR 1039 Notice: “Summer Food Service Program; 2023 Reimbursement Rates” (Jan. 5, 2023).
International Trade Administration
88 FR 858 Notice: “Fresh Garlic From the People’s Republic of China: Initiation of Antidumping Duty New Shipper Review” (Jan. 5, 2023).
88 FR 339 Notice: “Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Duty Investigation on Sugar From Mexico: Preliminary Results of the 2020-2021 Administrative Review and Postponement of Final Results” (Jan. 4, 2023).
88 FR 341 Notice: “Agreement Suspending the Countervailing Duty Investigation on Sugar From Mexico; Preliminary Results of the 2021 Administrative Review” (Jan. 4, 2023).
88 FR 58 Notice: “Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Preliminary Results, Partial Rescission, and Preliminary Determination of No Shipments of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2021-2022″ (Jan. 3, 2023).
National Agricultural Statistics Service
88 FR 338 Notice—Public Comment: “Notice of Intent To Request Revision and Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection” (Jan. 4, 2023).
U.S. HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE:
No new actions this week.
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY:
No new actions this week.
STATE ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE PRESS RELEASES:
PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 53, No. 1—Jan. 7, 2023):
Department of Agriculture
53 Pa.B. 22 Notice: “Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards.”
53 Pa.B. 23 Notice: “Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee Public Meeting.”
53 Pa.B. 24 Notice: “Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverage Industry Promotion Board; Grant Solicitation and Application Procedures for Act 39 of 2016 Funding.”
53 Pa.B. 36 Notice: “Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board; Grant Solicitation and Application Procedures for Act 39 of 2016 Funding.”
Department of Environmental Protection
53 Pa.B. 106 Notice: “Aggregate Advisory Board Meeting Rescheduled.”
53 Pa.B. 47 Notice: “Applications, Actions and Special Notices.”
53 Pa.B. 107 Notice: “Rescission of Technical Guidance.”
53 Pa.B. 107 Notice: “State Board for Certification of Sewage Enforcement Officers; Examination Schedule for 2023.”
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
53 Pa.B. 119 Notice: “Actions Taken at December Meeting.”
53 Pa.B. 120 Notice: “Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of Water.”
No new actions this week.
Dillon Lightfoot—Research Assistant
Megan Guess—Research Assistant
Audry Thompson—Staff Attorney
Brook Duer—Staff Attorney