Penn State Law Center for Agricultural and Shale Law

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COVID-19:  Farmer to Families Food Box Program Ends; Fresh Produce Box Purchases and Dairy Donation Program PlannedAccording to statements made by Secretary Vilsack posted to USDA’s website on April 14, 2021, the Farmer to Families Food Box Program will be terminated at the close of April 2021 when the current funded vendor contracts end.  On April 14. 2021, Reuters reported that USDA Communications Director Matt  Herrick stated USDA is focused on different hunger initiatives, including…
Antitrust: Court Approves $58 Settlement in Peanut Class Action SuitOn April 5, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia approved a $58 million settlement agreement between the plaintiff peanut farmer Settlement Class and defendant peanut shellers Birdsong Corporation and Olam Peanut Shelling Company, Inc. in a civil antitrust class action suit alleging that the defendant companies over- and under-reported peanut inventories to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to manipulate prices. …
Agricultural Labor: Federal Court Vacates Swine Slaughter Rule Line Speed EliminationOn March 31, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota issued an order vacating the elimination of pork slaughter plant line speed controls which was included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) October 2019 Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule (84 FR 52300).  United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local No. 663 v. United States Department of Agriculture, No.…
COVID-19: USDA Announces New ‘Pandemic Assistance for Producers’ InitiativeOn March 24, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its new $6 billion financial assistance initiative, USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers.  Combining existing programs with new spending, the initiative aims to resolve disparities in previous assistance distribution through a four-part agenda: 1) $6 billion in Consolidated Appropriations Act and unspent coronavirus funds for new program spending, including assistance for the Dairy Donation Program, biofuels,…
Water Quality: Exelon’s Conowingo Dam Relicensed As Per Settlement with MarylandOn March 18, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a new 50-year license to Exelon Generation Company, LLC’s Conowingo Hydroelectric Project, the nearly century-old dam located on the Susquehanna River in Maryland approximately ten miles north of its entry to the Chesapeake Bay.  Exelon Generation Company, LLC, Project Nos. 405-106 and 405-121, 174 FERC ¶ 61,217. In recent years it was discovered that previous…
Water Quality: Exelon’s Conowingo Dam Relicensed As Per Settlement with MarylandOn March 18, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a new 50-year license to Exelon Generation Company, LLC’s Conowingo Hydroelectric Project, the nearly century-old dam located on the Susquehanna River in Maryland approximately ten miles north of its entry to the Chesapeake Bay.  Exelon Generation Company, LLC, Project Nos. 405-106 and 405-121, 174 FERC ¶ 61,217. In recent years it was discovered that previous…
COVID-19: $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act Includes $10.4 Billion for AgricultureOn March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law H.R. 1319, known as the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” which appropriates approximately $1.9 trillion for various COVID-19 relief funding and authorizes multiple statutory initiatives and programs, including approximately $10.4 billion in aid and assistance to agriculture in various forms.  USDA has published a fact sheet on the law and its highlights,…
Animal Welfare: U.S. Supreme Court Petitioned to Hear Commerce Clause Challenge to California’s Proposition 12 On February 26, 2021, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it hear an appeal of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision that California’s Proposition 12 does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause in establishing animal confinement standards for all pork and veal products…
Antitrust: Court Grants Preliminary Approval of Civil Antitrust Settlement; Tyson and Pilgrim’s to Pay $155 Million On February 25, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued an order granting preliminary approval of the settlements between Defendants Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Tyson Foods and the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs (DPPs) in the consolidated antitrust class action suit In re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation (No. 1:16-cv-08637).  According to the agreement, subject to a June…
Agricultural Labor: NASS Publishes 2020 Farm Labor Report; 2021 H-2A Minimum Wage to be Published On February 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the 2020 Farm Labor Report, originally scheduled for release November 25, 2020.  The delay was caused by USDA suspending the October 2020 Agricultural Labor Survey, which provides the July – October 2020 data for this annual report, as part of the U.S. Department…