Air Quality: SEC Publishes ‘Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors’ Final Rule 🌾
On March 28, 2024, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published in the Federal Register a final rule (89 FR 21668) that will require U.S.-listed public companies “to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports.” Also announced by SEC, the rule will require companies to provide “information about a registrant’s climate-related risks that have materially impacted, or are reasonably likely to have a material impact on, its business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition.” According to the rule, “an agricultural producer or other registrant that operates a manure management system will not be required to include [greenhouse gas] GHG emissions from that system when disclosing its overall Scopes 1 and 2 emissions for so long as implementation of such a provision is subject to restriction on appropriated funds or other prohibited by Federal law.” The final rule becomes effective May 28, 2024. See also the Center’s CERCLA/EPCRA Reporting Issue Tracker.

Biotechnology: USDA Publishes Draft Plant Pest Risk, Environmental Impact Statement for Petition Seeking Nonregulated Status of Bayer Dicamba-Resistant Corn
On March 21, 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a notice of availability (89 FR 20424) for a draft plant pest risk assessment (PPRA) and a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) “in response to a petition from Bayer CropScience U.S. seeking to deregulate their MON 87429 corn cultivar,” which was “developed using genetic engineering for dicamba, glufosinate, quizalofop, and . . . [2, 4-D] resistance with tissue-specific glyphosate resistance” (APHIS-2020-0021). Also announced by APHIS, the PPRA determined that MON 87429 “is unlikely to pose a greater plant pest risk than the unmodified organism from which it was derived and, therefore, should no longer be a regulated organism under . . . [7 C.F.R. § 340].” Additionally, under the EIS’s “preferred alternative,” “APHIS would approve the petition request . . . because it was determined that . . . [the] corn is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk.” The PPRA and EIS are open for public comment until May 6, 2024. See also the Center’s Bioengineered Disclosure Issue Tracker.

Biotechnology: USDA Publishes Notice of Petition Seeking Nonregulated Status for Bayer Moth-Resistant Corn
On March 4, 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a notice (89 FR 15542) “advising the public that [APHIS] has received a petition from Bayer U.S.-Crop Science seeking a determination of nonregulated status for maize (corn) . . . MON 95379 . . . genetic[ally] engineer[ed] to produce two insecticidal proteins to protect against feeding damage caused by target lepidopteran pests,” which include butterflies and moths (APHIS-2020-0113). Also announced by APHIS, the petition claims that “MON 95379 maize is unlikely to pose a greater plant pest risk than conventional maize.” The petition is available for public comment until May 3, 2024. See also the Center’s Bioengineered Disclosure Virtual Resource Room.

Avian Influenza: Columbia Reopens Market for U.S. Poultry, Egg Imports
On March 12, 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) published a report confirming that, in February 2024, Columbia had reopened its markets for U.S. poultry and egg imports after the country stopped issuing import permits for the products in August 2023 due to concerns over highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). According to the report, “[b]efore the closure, Colombia was the 10th largest market globally for U.S. poultry, with exports reaching $105 million in 2022” and “[i]n 2023, Colombia became the sixth largest global export market for U.S. agricultural products.”

Food Labeling: American Farmland Trust Announces U.S. Farmed™ Certification, Anheuser-Busch to Adopt
On March 19, 2024, American Farmland Trust (AFT) announced its new U.S. Farmed™ Certification “for products that derive at least 95 percent of their agricultural ingredients from farms in the United States.” AFT states that the new certification “is a traceability standard that allows certificate holders to demonstrate the verification of their material sourcing to a U.S. farm.” Additionally, AFT’s announcement declared that Anheuser-Busch (AB) is the first company to adopt the certification, which will appear on AB’s Busch Light beer beginning in May 2024 and on its Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob ULTRA beers later.

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CENTER PROGRAMS & RESOURCES

Dairy Quarterly Legal Webinar Series. A free quarterly Zoom webinar series covering dairy industry legal and regulatory developments with an in-depth focus topic. One hour of substantive CLE credit available for Pennsylvania-licensed attorneys at no charge. All events are on Tuesdays, noon–1 pm (ET). Upcoming:

Understanding Agricultural Law Series. A free monthly Zoom webinar series for agricultural and rural business advisors. One hour of substantive CLE credit available for Pennsylvania-licensed attorneys at no charge. All events are on Fridays, noon–1 pm (ET). Upcoming:

Podcasts:

Agricultural Law Podcast

PFAS Soil Contamination Fuels Liability Suit Over Biosolid Land Application (Mar. 21, 2024)

Farmland Legal Energy Podcast

Introduction to Wind Farms and How Farmers Can Utilize Wind Power

Methane Production From Manure

An Introduction to Hydrogen and Agriculture

An Introduction to Anaerobic Digestion

Publications:

Anaerobic Digestion: An Alternative Energy Source for Farmers (Dec. 2023).

Specialty Crop Producers’ Guide to Understanding Liability Protection, Regulatory Processes, & Other Legal Risks (Nov. 2023)

More Center Publications.

Resources of Interest:

Southern Ag Today, Foreign Ownership Law Violates the U.S. Constitution???, Micah Brown (Mar. 22, 2024)

Ohio St. Univ. Ext. Farm Off. Blog, Don’t Let Your Farm Insurance Be an Afterthought, Robert Moore (Mar. 21, 2024)

Nat’l Agric. Law Ctr., The SEC Finalizes Rule on Required Climate Related Disclosures, Samantha Capaldo (Mar. 21, 2024)

Southern Ag Today, What’s the Lay of the Land in U.S. Organics Trade?, Jungman Choi (Mar. 21, 2024)

Ohio St. Univ. Ext. Farm Off. Blog, Preparing Farms for the Solar Eclipse, Peggy Kirk Hall (Mar. 20, 2024)

Nat’l Agric. Law Ctr., Limits on Land Acquisitions: Three States Amend Their Foreign Ownership Laws, Micah Brown (Mar. 19, 2024)

Agric. Law & Tax’n Blog, Kansas Prescribed Burning—Rules and Regulations, Roger McEowen (Mar. 17, 2024)

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FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE

U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) PRESS RELEASES

Applications for USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants Due April 9 (Mar. 19, 2024)

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on National Agriculture Day (Mar. 19, 2024)

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) PRESS RELEASES

New Toxics Release Inventory Data Reported (Mar. 21, 2024)

EPA digs into Charlottesville Urban Garden during National Agriculture Week (Mar. 19, 2024)

Statement by EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan on National Agriculture Day (Mar. 19, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration announces $24 million in pollution prevention grants under President’s Investing in America agenda (Mar. 18, 2024)

USDA AGENCY PRESS RELEASES:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

USDA Seeks Public Input on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Deregulation of Maize Developed Using Genetic Engineering (Mar. 21, 2024)

APHIS Reflects on 2023 Accomplishments, Looks Forward to 2024 (Mar. 19, 2024)

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Development of the Food-at-Home Monthly Area Prices Data (Mar. 20, 2024)

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Applications for USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants Due April 9 (Mar. 19, 2024)

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

Trade and Exports Continue to Strengthen American Agriculture (Mar. 19, 2024)

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Applications Open for Camp Williams Sentinel Landscape Project (Mar. 22, 2024)

Additional Farm Bill, IRA Funding Available for NRCS Pacific Islands Area Conservation Programs (Mar. 21, 2024)

Announcing April 19th Application Date for Conservation Stewardship Program (Mar. 19, 2024)

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register Mar. 18-22, 2024):   

Agriculture Department

89 FR 20423 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Reinstatement” [Agricultural Marketing Service: Tart Cherries Grown in the States of MI, NY, PA, OR, UT, WA, and WI] (Mar. 22, 2024)
89 FR 20161 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request [Agricultural Marketing Service: Cotton Classing, Testing, and Standards]” (Mar. 21, 2024)

89 FR 19567 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request [Food and Nutrition Service: Employment and Training Opportunities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)]” (Mar. 19, 2024)

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

89 FR 20424 Notice—Comment Period: “Bayer; Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and a Draft Plant Risk Assessment for Determination of Nonregulated Status for Maize Developed Using Genetic Engineering for Dicamba, Glufosinate, Quizalofop, and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid Resistance, With Tissue-Specific Glyphosate Resistance Facilitating the Production of Hybrid Maize Seed” (Mar. 22, 2024)

89 FR 19796 Notice—Comment Period: “Addition of Black Stem Rust-Resistant Barberry Plant Varieties to Regulated Articles List” (Mar. 20, 2024)

Environmental Protection Agency

89 FR 20410 Proposed Rule—Comment Period: “Receipt of a Pesticide Petition Filed for Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various Commodities (February 2024)” (Mar. 22, 2024)

89 FR 19952 Proposed Rule—Comment Period: “Revisions to Standards for the Open Burning/Open Detonation of Waste Explosives” (Mar. 20, 2024)

89 FR 19310 Proposed Rule—Comment Period: “Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Programs” (Mar. 18, 2024)

Food Safety and Inspection Service

89 FR 19470 Rule: “Voluntary Labeling of FSIS-Regulated Products With U.S.-Origin Claims” (Mar. 18, 2024)

Rural Housing Service

89 FR 19497 Rule: “Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program Change in Priority Projects Criteria” (Mar. 19, 2024)

U.S. HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE:

H.R.7769 “To amend the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 to reauthorize the Commission on Farm Transitions-Needs for 2050, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture. (Mar. 21, 2024)

H.R.7762 “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to establish a new tax credit and grant program to stimulate investment and healthy nutrition options in food deserts, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Agriculture. (Mar. 20, 2024)

H.R.5015 “Seedlings for Sustainable Habitat Restoration Act of 2023” Subcommittee Hearings Held. (Mar. 20, 2024)

U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY:

S.4056 “A bill to reduce enteric methane emissions, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. (Mar. 22, 2024)

S.4033 “A bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act to strengthen enforcement with respect to violations of that Act, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. (Mar. 21, 2024)

S.4019 “A bill to require the Secretary of Agriculture to provide regular updates to Livestock Indemnity Program payment rates to reflect market prices, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. (Mar. 19, 2024)

S.3982 “A bill to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to establish the Expanding Access to Local Foods Program, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. (Mar. 20, 2024)

STATE ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE 

No New Actions.

PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 54, No. 12—Mar. 23, 2024): 

Department of Environmental Protection

54 Pa.B. 1555 Notice: “Applications for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits and Water Quality Management (WQM) Permits Under the Clean Streams Law and Federal Clean Water Act”

Environmental Hearing Board

54 Pa.B. 1552 Proposed Rule: “Acceptance of Rulemaking Petition for Study”

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

54 Pa.B. 1645 Notice: “Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of Water”

54 Pa.B. 1645 Notice: “General Permits Notice”

54 Pa.B. 1646 Notice: “Projects Approved for Minor Modifications”

PENNSYLVANI A LEGISLATURE

HB 1543 “An Act repealing obsolete provisions of law relating to crossing bridge with horse faster than a walk, driving cattle faster than a walk, carrying fire over a bridge and a supplement to an act relating to roads, highways and bridges.” Re-reported as committed. (Mar. 19, 2024)

HB 2117 “An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in food protection, further providing for poisonous or deleterious substances and tolerances.” Referred to AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS. (Mar. 19, 2024)

HB 1889 “An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in weights and measures, further providing for meter required.” Third consideration and final passage. (Mar. 19, 2024)

SB 979 “An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in domestic animals, providing for posted notice with information on dangerous transmissible diseases.” Laid on Table. (Mar. 18, 2024)

HB 1661 “An Act amending the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, further providing for definitions and for prohibited acts and penalties; and providing for secure storage of xylazine.” Re-reported as committed. (Mar. 18, 2024)

 

Contributors:
Victoria Dutterer—Research Assistant
Lonzie Helms—Research Assistant
Esther Thomas—Research Assistant
Audry Thompson—Staff Attorney