Organic Agriculture: USDA Announces $300 Million for New Organic Transition Initiative
On August 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $300 million for a new Organic Transition Initiative to provide mentoring, direct assistance, and supply chain support for farmers transitioning to organic production. As a prerequisite to organic certification, lands generating organic-certified crops must be free from prohibited inputs, such as synthetic pesticides, for 36 months, during which time “farmers face challenging technical, cultural, and market shifts,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The announced funds will provide
- $100 Million over five years in cooperative agreements with non-profit organizations through the Transition to Organic Production Program (TOPP), which aims to establish partnerships across six regions to provide education and mentorship for transitioning farmers;
- $75 million to develop a new Organic Management conservation practice standard, which will provide technical assistance and payments to farmers who implement practices, similar to current nutrient and pest management conservation practice standards;
- $25 million to provide crop insurance premium offsets for transitioning farmers through the RMA’s Transitional Organic Grower Assistance Program (TOGA); and
- $100 million to support organic supply chains in specified markets—including organic grain and feed, legumes, and livestock and dairy—to improve processing capacity and infrastructure, market access, and supply organic ingredients.
According to the announcement, USDA will solicit stakeholder feedback in September regarding these initiatives.
National Agricultural Policy: USDA Announces $121 Million for Rural Infrastructure and Energy Grants
On August 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $121 million in grants to local governments, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Tribes across 49 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico for 289 infrastructure and renewable energy projects. The funds are provided through three programs targeting rural areas: 1) Community Facilities Disaster Grants, 2) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants, and 3) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grants. Through the Community Facility Disaster Grant Program, Pennsylvania grant recipients include the Town of Bloomsburg ($500,000) and the Eagles Mere Borough Authority ($46,700). Through the REAP Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants Program, Pennsylvania grant recipients include
- Allegheny Bradford Corporation ($18,924),
- Anthony Ricci Dba Green Heron Farm ($8,500),
- Clugston Farms, LLC ($20,000),
- Frosty Hollows Farms, LLC ($20,000),
- Goot Essa, LLC ($7,912),
- Kelly RV, Inc. ($11,000),
- Kriebel Security, Inc. dba Czarstar Security ($12,877),
- Mat Plaza, LLC ($12,410),
- Mcclarigan CPAs & Advisors ($15,000),
- Michael L. Wilt dba Cedar Grove Farm ($12,398),
- Maple Lawn Entertainment, Inc. dba Maize Quest ($15,000)
- Three Rivers Grown, LLC ($20,000),
- Troyer Growers, Inc. ($11,654), and
- Vacuum Processes, Inc. ($8,825).
National Agricultural Policy: USDA Announces $550 Million for Underserved Producer Land Access and Minority Career Development in Food and Agriculture
On August 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $550 million for two USDA grant programs geared towards underserved producers and minority career development in food and agriculture: up to $300 million for the and $250 million for From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals. The Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program will provide grants ranging from $250,000 to $40 million—with no cost share requirement—to government entities and nonprofit organizations for projects that increase land access and address capital and/or market access concerns. The deadline for Land, Capital, and Market Access applications is October 28, 2022. The From Learning to Leading program will provide grants ranging from $500,000 to $20 million to eligible institutions for student scholarships, paid internships, fellowships, and employment opportunities supporting agricultural and food career development for future federal employment. The deadline for From Learning to Leading applications is October 25, 2022.
Agricultural Labor: Sixth Meatpacking Facility Granted Approval in Time-Limited Trial, Lifting Line Speed Maximum
On August 17, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) granted approval to Swift Pork Company in Beardstown, Illinois to participate in the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) time-limited trial. The time-limited trial permits the company to operate line speeds above the 1,106 head-per-hour maximum instated by FSIS in May 2021 in response to a district court vacatur of the agency’s 2019 Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule (84 FR 52300), which eliminated maximum line speeds for NSIS operations. According to FSIS, the time-limited trial allows establishments to operate above the maximum line speeds while “experiment[ing] with different ergonomics, automation and crewing” for up to one year, during which they must collect data and evaluate the impact of the increased line speeds on workers. Currently, five other establishments are approved to operate under the time-limited trial:
- Clemens Food Group, LLC in Hatfield, Pa. (approved March 4, 2022);
- Quality Pork Processors in Austin, Minn. (approved March 7, 2022);
- Wholestone Farms Cooperative, Inc. in Fremont, Neb. (approved March 7, 2022);
- Clemens Food Group, LLC in Coldwater, Mich. (approved April 22, 2022); and
- Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. in Madison Neb. (approved June 29, 2022).
Antimicrobial Use: Non-Profit Files Class Action Suit Claiming Misrepresentation for Whole Foods’ ‘No Antibiotics, Ever’ Advertising
On August 23, 2022, nonprofit Farm Forward and three named plaintiffs filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging that Whole Foods Market’s materially misrepresented its beef products by claiming they contained “No Antibiotics, Ever” after independent testing revealed antibiotic and pharmaceutical residue. Sara Safari v. Whole Foods Market, Inc., No. 8:22-cv-01562. The plaintiffs state that Whole Foods’ internal emails show the company’s knowledge of the potential inaccuracy and that Whole Foods declined to investigate or test the cattle in its supply chain. The plaintiffs seek an injunction requiring Whole Foods to address and resolve its alleged misrepresentations and compensate class members for overpayments.
PROGRAMS & RESOURCES
221. DOJ Files Consent Decrees in Poultry Worker and Contract Grower Compensation Case; Koch Settles Contract Grower Class Action; and USDA Expands State Meat and Poultry Inspection Programs (Aug. 11, 2022).
Understanding Agricultural Law. A free monthly webinar series via Zoom for agricultural and rural business advisors of all kinds. One hour of substantive CLE credit available for Pennsylvania licensed attorneys at no charge. Recordings and materials from prior webinars in this series, more information and registration all are available here. Next in the series:
- Sept. 23, 2022, noon ET: Understanding the Basics of Livestock Market Regulation
- Oct. 21, 2022, noon ET: Understanding the Basics of Crop Insurance
Dairy Quarterly Legal Webinar. A free quarterly webinar series via Zoom covering legal and regulatory developments in the U.S. dairy industry from the preceding quarter, plus an in-depth look at a focus topic. One hour of substantive CLE credit available for Pennsylvania licensed attorneys at no charge. Recordings and materials from prior webinars in this series, more information and registration available here. Next in series:
- Oct. 25, 2022, noon ET: 3rd Quarter of 2022—2023 Farm Bill, Implications for Dairy
Legal Planning for Specialty Crop Producers. A free periodic webinar series via Zoom. Register at any time to watch recordings of past, and attend all future, webinars, as well as access the webinar materials here. Next in series:
- Nov. 16, 2022, noon ET: Licensing and Regulatory Obligations in Selling Raw and Processed Specialty Crop Products.
- Nov. 30, 2022, noon ET: Municipal Law & Zoning for Agritourism/Agritainment, Specialty Crop Processing & Sales.
- Dec. 14, 2022, noon ET: Statutory Protections/Restrictions: Understanding PA’s Ag Area Security, Right-To-Farm, ACRE, and Clean & Green Laws.
Agricultural Law & Policy Resources of Interest:
Academic & Government Resources
Agric. Law & Tax’n Blog, LLCs and Self-Employment Tax—Part Two, Roger A. McEowen (Aug. 21, 2022).
Agric. Law & Tax’n Blog, USDA’s Emergency Relief Program (Update on Gain from Equipment Sales), Roger A. McEowen (Aug. 23, 2022).
Nat’l Agric. Law Ctr., Checking In on Crop Insurance: FCIC Insurance Policy Interpretations, Micah Brown (Aug. 23, 2022).
Iowa St. Univ. Ctr. Agric. Law & Tax’n, Congress Passes Extensive Climate, Tax, and Health Care Bill, Kristine A. Tidgren (Aug. 14, 2022).
Iowa St. Univ. Ctr. Agric. Law & Tax’n, Failure of Jesup Grain Dealer Opens Window for Grain Indemnity Fund Claims, Kristine A. Tidgren (Aug. 24, 2022).
Iowa St. Univ. Ctr. Agric. Law & Tax’n, Remember, Farm Lease Termination Notices Must be Sent Before September 1, Kristine A. Tidgren (Aug. 25, 2022).
Ohio St. Univ. Ext. Farm Off. Blog, Landowner Crop Lease Termination Deadline is September 1, Peggy Kirk Hall (Aug. 24, 2022).
Ohio St. Univ. Ext. Farm Off. Blog, Irrevocable Trusts, Robert Moore (Aug. 26, 2022).
Tex. A&M Agric. Law Blog, Should I Sell Carbon Credits? A Decision Guide for Ranchers, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet (Aug. 22, 2022).
Tex. A&M Agric. Law Blog, 2022 USDA Land Values Summary, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet (Aug. 29, 2022).
Univ. Md. Risk Mgmt. Educ. Blog, Supreme Court of Iowa Reverses Course on Right-to-Farm Rulings (Aug. 23, 2022).
Univ. Md. Risk Mgmt. Educ. Blog, NASS Releases Delaware and Maryland Statewide Cash Rental Rate Averages for 2022 (Aug. 24, 2022).
News & Industry Resources
Food Navigator USA, ‘Traumatic and devastating:’ Organic farmers copy with fallout from Danone exit, Teodora Lyubomirova (Aug. 25, 2022).
Penn State News, Research & Resources:
PSU Ext., 2022 Pennsylvania Vegetable Disease Update for August 24 (Aug. 24, 2022).
PSU Ext., Pennsylvania Water Plan Update Open for Public Comment (Aug. 22, 2022).
PSU Ext., Preparing Grain Storages for Harvest (Aug. 23, 2022).
PSU Ext., Soybean Sentinel Plot Report: August 23, 2022 (Aug. 23, 2022).
PSU Ext., Weed Seeds This Fall Means More Weeds Next Spring (Aug. 24, 2022).
PSU Ext., Ensilaging Controls Burcucumber Seed (Aug. 24, 2022).
PSU Ext., Harvesting Corn Silage at Optimal Moisture Levels (Aug. 24, 2022).
PSU Ext., PestWatch Report: August 24, 2022—Moth catch is holding steady this week. (Aug. 24, 2022).
Top #AgLaw HotLinks Aug. 22–26, 2022:
EPA Draft Contains Dicamba Concerns, Progressive Farmer
USDA Takes New Approach to Farmer Debt Relief, American Agriculturist
FSA Loan Debt Relief Will Have to Wait, Progressive Farmer
Agriculture-Related Legislative Hearings & Reports:
U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Environment, Regenerative Agriculture: How Farmers and Ranchers are Essential to Solving Climate Change and Increasing Food Production, recorded July 19, 2022.
U.S. House Agriculture Committee:
- An Examination of the USDA Hemp Production Program, recorded July 28, 2022.
- A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Stakeholder Perspectives on Title XI Crop Insurance, recorded July 20, 2022.
- A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: The State of Credit for Young, Beginning, and Underserved Producers, recorded July 14, 2022.
- A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Forestry, recorded July 13, 2022.
- A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Dairy Provisions, recorded June 22, 2022.
- The Role of Climate Research in Supporting Agricultural Resiliency, recorded June 15, 2022.
- A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Economic Perspectives on Title 1 Commodities and Title XI Crop Insurance, recorded June 9, 2022.
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 [email protected].
U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) PRESS RELEASES
U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments (Aug. 22, 2022).
USDA Extends Infant Formula Waivers, Supports WIC State Agencies (Aug. 23, 2022).
USDA Announces Up to $550 Million in American Rescue Plan Funding for Projects Benefiting Underserved Producers and Minority Serving Institutions that Create Career Development Opportunities for Next Generation Leaders (Aug. 24, 2022).
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) PRESS RELEASES
USDA AGENCY PRESS RELEASES:
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
USDA Cites Farm Fresh Packers LLC in Florida for PACA Violations (Aug. 23, 2022).
USDA Announces Pistachios Continuance Referendum Dates (Aug. 22, 2022).
USDA Market News Enhances Poultry Reports (Aug. 25, 2022).
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Economic Research Service (ERS)
China’s Import Potential for Beef, Corn, Pork, and Wheat (Aug. 25, 2022).
Drought in the Western United States (Aug. 26, 2022).
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
Export Sales to China [110,000 metric tons of soybeans] (Aug. 23, 2022).
Export Sales to China [517,000 metric tons of soybeans] (Aug. 24, 2022).
Forest Service (FS)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
NIFA Invests $5M to Enhance Infectious Disease Research (Aug. 23, 2022).
National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register Aug. 22–26, 2022):
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
87 FR 51880 Final Rule, Treasury Decision: “Wine Treating Materials and Related Regulations” (Aug. 24, 2022).
87 FR 51330 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request [Natural Resource Conservation Service: Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities]” (Aug. 22, 2022).
87 FR 52500 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: National Management Information System (Wildlife Service)]” (Aug. 26, 2022).
Agricultural Marketing Service
87 FR 51270 Proposed Rule: “Almonds Grown in California; Modification of Regulations; Withdrawal” (Aug. 22, 2022).
87 FR 52431 Final Rule: “Avocados Grown in South Florida; Increased Assessment Rate” (Aug. 26, 2022).
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
87 FR 51640 Notice—Comment Period: “Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Restrictions on Importation of Live Poultry, Poultry Meat, and Other Poultry Products From Specified Regions” (Aug. 23, 2022).
87 FR 52500 Notice—Comment Period: “Notice of Availability of Bovine Tuberculosis Status Evaluation of Eight Mexican Regions and Intent To Classify Those Regions for Bovine Tuberculosis” (Aug. 26, 2022).
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation
87 FR 51960 Notice: “Notice of Funding Availability; Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance” (Aug. 24, 2022).
Fish and Wildlife Service
87 FR 51443 Notice—Comment Period: “Approval Procedures for Incidental Harassment Authorizations of Marine Mammals” (Aug. 22, 2022).
87 FR 51440 Notice: “Endangered Species; Marine Mammals; Issuance of Permits” (Aug. 22, 2022).
87 FR 51441 Notice, Comments Accepted: “Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Nineteenth Regular Meeting; Provisional Agenda; Announcement of Virtual Public Meeting” (Aug. 22, 2022).
87 FR 51635 Proposed Rule: “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Findings for Four Species” (Aug. 23, 2022).
87 FR 51928 Final Rule: “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing Adiantum vivesii From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants” (Aug. 24, 2022).
87 FR 51925 Final Rule: “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” (Aug. 24, 2022).
87 FR 52410 Notice—Comment Period: “Marine Mammal Protection Act; Receipt of Permit Application” (Aug. 25, 2022).
Food and Nutrition Service
87 FR 51962 Notice—Comment Period: “Agency Information Collection Activities: Review of Major Changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (Aug. 24, 2022).
87 FR 51964 Notice—Comment Period: “Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Trafficking Controls and Fraud Investigations” (Aug. 24, 2022).
Food Safety and Inspection Service
87 FR 51861 Final Rule: “Changes to Accreditation of Non-Federal Analytical Testing Laboratories” (Aug. 24, 2022).
Rural Business-Cooperative Service
87 FR 51641 Notice: “Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) for Fiscal Year 2022” (Aug. 23, 2022).
Rural Utilities Service
87 FR 52502 Notice—Comment Period: “Badger State Solar, LLC: Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement” (Aug. 26, 2022).
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. 52, No. 35—Aug. 27, 2022):
Department of Agriculture
52 Pa.B. 5506 Notice: “List of Pesticides Which May be Used by Medical Marijuana Grower and Processors.”
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
52 Pa.B. 5476 Proposed Rulemaking: “Conservation of Pennsylvania Native Wild Plants.”
Department of Environmental Protection
52 Pa.B. 5510 Notice: “Pa. Clean Streams Law and Federal Clean Water Act: Applications for NPDES and WQM Permits.”
52 Pa.B. 5569 Notice: “Availability of Grants through the Coastal Zone Grant Program.”
52 Pa.B. 5618 Notice: “Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future and Brodhead Watershed Association v. Department of Environmental Protection and Swiftwater Solar, LLC”.
52 Pa.B. 5466 Rules & Regulations: “Hunting and Trapping; General.”
52 Pa.B. 5469 Rules & Regulations: “Hunting and Trapping; Small Game.”
52 Pa.B. 5470 Rules & Regulations: “Hunting and Trapping; Big Game.”
52 Pa.B. 5471 Rules & Regulations: “Special Permits; Wildlife Rehabilitation.”
52 Pa.B. 5472 Rules & Regulations: “Special Permits; Deer Control; Deer Management Assistance Program Permits.”
52 Pa.B. 5474 Rules & Regulations: “Special Permits; Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator.”
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
52 Pa.B. 5623 Notice: “Commission Meeting [September 15, 2022].”
- Res. 325 “A Resolution designating the dates of September 17 through 24, 2022, as “Thank a Local Farmer Week” in Pennsylvania” Referred to RULES AND EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS [Senate] (Aug. 24, 2022).
Audry Thompson—Staff Attorney
Brook Duer—Staff Attorney