Animal Health: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Update
As of November 8, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) HPAI 2022 Confirmed Detections database has confirmed a total of 604 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) detections in 46 states (259 commercial flocks and 345 backyard flocks), resulting in 50.12 million birds depopulated nationally. Recently, Pennsylvania has suffered six additional commercial turkey premise detections, one in Adams County (October 17—15,500 birds depopulated) and five in Lehigh County in rapid succession (November 3—28,500 birds depopulated; November 4—14,500 birds depopulated; November 8—17,400 birds depopulated; and November 9—two Lehigh County turkey premises of approximately 13,000 and 12,000 birds each are in the confirmation testing process and are not yet reflected in the APHIS database). Additionally, two significant recent commercial premise detections have been confirmed in Wright County, Iowa (October 31 and November 6), each resulting in depopulation of approximately 1 million egg layers each.

Agricultural Labor: Pennsylvania Poultry Processor Found in Contempt of Federal Court’s 2020 Order
On October 19, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order finding the Pennsylvania kosher poultry processor Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp. in contempt of court for failure to respond to the court’s December 1, 2020, order, which affirmed two citations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Secretary of Labor v. Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp., No. 20-01028. The OSHA citations listed six safety violations found by OSHA during March and April 2016 inspections of the company’s Berks County poultry processing plant, including noncompliance with lockout/tagout procedures, failure to provide appropriate hearing and personal protective equipment, and noise level violations. Also announced by DOL, the order requires Birdsboro to provide written certification within 20 days of the company’s corrective measures and pay $162,359 in outstanding penalties, plus interest and fees. The order allows for further “coercive sanctions” as necessary against Birdsboro, including shutting down “all operations at Birdsboro’s facility, incarceration of company officers, [and] daily penalties of up to $7,000 per outstanding violation” for “any noncompliance after 20 days” of the contempt order.

Antitrust: Tyson Will Pay $10.5 Million in Washington State Price-Fixing Settlement
On October 25, 2022, the Washington State King County Superior Court entered a stipulated judgment approving a $10.5 million settlement recorded in a Consent Decree between Tyson Foods, Inc. and the State of Washington in an enforcement action brought under the state’s Unfair Business Practices Act alleging anti-competitive and price-fixing activity by and among 19 broiler chicken producers. Washington v. Tyson Foods Inc. et al, No. 21-2-14174-5 SEA. As announced by the Washington State Attorney General (AG), the settlement also requires Tyson to cooperate with the state’s case against the 16 remaining defendants and produce relevant information and documents. The State of Washington has also reached settlements with Mar-Jac Poultry ($725,000) and Fieldale Farms Corp. ($475,000) in the same case. According to the AG’s announcement, Alaska and New Mexico have also filed state antitrust cases against national poultry producers for the same conduct, although Washington is the first state to enter into settlements. These state enforcement actions are separate from and in addition to pending federal litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in In re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, No. 1:16-cv-06837. For more information on protein industry antitrust litigation, see the Center’s Agricultural Issue Tracker, Agricultural Antitrust Litigation.

Animal Welfare: Court Denies Smithfield’s Motion to Dismiss Suit Alleging Misleading Marketing for Gestation Crate Use
On October 24, 2022, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia issued an order denying Smithfield Foods, Inc.’s motion to dismiss a complaint filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which seeks injunctive and other relief against Smithfield under the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act for false marketing, including denying the use of gestation crates. The Humane Society of the United States v. Smithfield Foods, Inc., No. 2021-CA-003777. See ALWR—Oct. 22, 2022, “Humane Society Files Suit Against Smithfield for Misleading Use of Gestation Crates.” The court found that HSUS had alleged sufficient facts to support its false and misleading advertising claims, including citing Smithfield’s 2020 Sustainability Report—which states that Smithfield “‘maintains group housing for all pregnant sows on company-owned farms globally’ and that its ‘open housing systems allow for social interaction between animals and room for exercise’”—which the court found “arguably inconsistent with [Smithfield’s] admitted continual use of individual crates during portions of the breeding process.” The case will now proceed to discovery and pretrial proceedings.

 National Agricultural Policy: USDA Announces $73 Million for Meat and Poultry Processing
On November 2, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will invest $73 million into 21 projects in the first round of funding for the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP), which aims to assist meat and poultry producers (1) modernize equipment and processes; (2) comply with packing, labeling, and other safety standards; (3) offset the cost of becoming an inspected facility; and (4) support workforce training, recruitment, and retention. First-round funding projects are located in California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. These investments are a part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to reduce prices and strengthen the meat and poultry supply chain.

Agricultural Data: USDA Rural Development Publishes Agricultural 2021 Cooperative Statistics Summary
On November 2, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Cooperative Services Branch published its Agricultural Cooperative Statistics Summary, 2021. This annual report surveys 1,699 farmer, rancher, and fishery cooperatives (co-ops) across the nation. The summary highlights that co-ops recorded their fourth highest revenue year at $231.4 billion. While the number of co-ops declined from 1,744 in 2020, employment in agricultural co-ops increased by 17,531 jobs to 138,428 full-time employees in 2021 and 46,999 part-time or seasonal employees, for total employment of 202,988 people.

 Animal Health: United Kingdom Orders All Birds Housed Indoors
On November 2, 2022, the United Kingdom (UK) Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) announced that all bird keepers must house their birds indoors beginning Monday, November 7, 2022, until further notice. This announcement serves as an update to the UK’s Avian Influenza Prevention Zones (AIPZ), enacted to combat the over 200 confirmed cases of Avian Influenza in the UK since October 2021. On October 28, 2022, DEFRA and APHA also announced a compensation scheme to further address the financial hardships caused by highly pathogenic avian influenza.

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CENTER PROGRAMS & RESOURCES

Agricultural Law Podcasts:

Events:

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 prior webinars, more information, and registration available here. Next in the series:

Legal Planning for Specialty Crop Producers. A free periodic Zoom webinar series.  Register at any time to watch past recordings and attend all future webinars and access all materials.  Next in series:

Dairy Quarterly Legal WebinarA 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 available here. More events coming soon.

Resources Of Interest:

Webinars & Events 

Academic & Government Resources

Media & Industry Resources

  • AG Presents: Nothing Borrowed, Nothing Gained, podcast series on agricultural lending.
    • Ep 1: Forever in Your (Farm) Debt
    • Ep 2: Earning Extra Credit
    • Ep 3: A Loan Walks into a Bank
    • Ep 4: Where Credit is Due

Penn State News, Research & Resources:

PSU Ext., 2022 Holiday Food Trends for Farm Markets (Nov. 3, 2022).
PSU Ext., Crops Conferences and Crops Days: Sponsor and Exhibitor Opportunities (Nov. 2, 2022).
$1.5 million grant awarded to team studying impacts of land abandonment (Nov. 2, 2022).
PSU Ext., Deadline Approaching for Farmer Grants (Nov. 1, 2022).
PSU Ext., Reflecting on Tar Spot in 2022 (Nov. 1, 2022).
PSU Ext., Can Weeds Still Be Controlled in November? (Nov. 1, 2022).
Fighting Fire With Fire: Study Gauges Public Perception of Prescribed Burns (Nov. 1, 2022).

Top #AgLaw HotLinks Oct. 29–Nov. 4, 2022:

Russia Suspends Participation in Black Sea Export Deal, Farm Policy News.
Farmers Fight City Over Right to Operate Farm Store on Their Own Land, Progressive Farmer.
Program encourages more exports through the Great Lakes, Brownfield.
Syngenta pushes back against FTC complaint, Brownfield.
Convicted of crop insurance fraud, farmer says don’t do what he did, Brownfield.

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].

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FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE

U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) PRESS RELEASES

Biden-Harris Administration Expands Rural Partners Network to Four More States and Puerto Rico (Nov. 3, 2022).

Biden-Harris Administration Announces First Round of Historic Investments to Increase Competition and Expand Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity (Nov. 2, 2022).

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) PRESS RELEASES

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Selection of 29 EPA Environmental Finance Centers to Help Communities Access Funds for Infrastructure Projects (Nov. 4, 2022).

EPA Awards $740K Research Grant to University of Missouri to Identify and Measure Economic Benefits of Improved Water Quality (Nov. 3, 2022).

EPA Awards California $609 Million in Historic Federal Funding to Improve Water Quality (Nov. 2, 2022).

EPA and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan Begin New Project to Build Resilience at Coastal and Shoreline Habitats (Nov. 2, 2022).

EPA Awards Nearly $3M in Research Grants to Identify and Measure Economic Benefits of Improved Water Quality (Nov. 2, 2022).

USDA AGENCY PRESS RELEASES:

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

USDA Files Action Against Fresh Florida Products Inc. in Florida for Alleged PACA Violations (Nov. 4, 2022).

USDA Restricts PACA Violators in Texas from Operating in the Produce Industry (Nov. 4, 2022).

USDA Announces Its Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement with New Jersey (Nov. 3, 2022).

USDA Expands Local Foods in School Meals through Cooperative Agreement with Vermont (Nov. 2, 2022).

USDA Expands Local Foods in School Meals through Cooperative Agreement with Florida (Nov. 1, 2022).

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

USDA Confirms Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Commercial Chickens in Mississippi (Nov. 5, 2022).

USDA Confirms Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Two Non-Commercial Backyard Flocks (Non-Poultry) in Arizona and South Carolina (Nov. 4, 2022).

APHIS Adjusts Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection (AQI) User Fees in Response to Court Order (Nov. 1, 2022).

USDA Announces $30 Million American Rescue Plan Funding Opportunity Supporting Research on SARS-CoV-2 in Animals (Nov. 1, 2022).

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

USDA Announces November 2022 Lending Rates for Agricultural Producers (Nov. 1, 2022).

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

USDA Trade Mission to East Africa Underway (Oct. 31, 2022).

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register Oct. 31–Nov. 4, 2022):            

Agricultural Marketing Service

87 FR 66535 Final Rule: “Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Order-Decrease in Assessment Rate and Importer Assessments” (Nov. 4, 2022).

87 FR 65683 Proposed Rule—Public Comment: “Adjustments to Mango Board Representation” (Nov. 1, 2022).

Agriculture Department   

87 FR 65738 Notice—Public Comment: “Information Collection; Improving Customer Experience (OMB Circular A-11, Section 280 Implementation)” (Nov. 1, 2022).

87 FR 65739 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request” (Nov. 1, 2022).

87 FR 65732 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request” (Nov. 1, 2022).

87 FR 65568 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request” (Oct. 31, 2022).

87 FR 65569 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request” (Oct. 31, 2022).

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

87 FR 66257 Notice—Public Comment: “Notice of Request for an Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Tuberculosis” (Nov. 3, 2022).

Environmental Protection Agency

87 FR 66554 Final Rule: “1,3-Benzenedicarboxylic Acid, 5-Sulfo-, Sodium Salt (1:1), Polymer With 1,3-Benzenedicarboxylic Acid, 1,4-Cyclohexanedimethanol and 2,2′-Oxybis[ethanol]; Tolerance Exemption” (Nov. 4, 2022).

Farm Credit Administration

87 FR 66696 Notice: “Sunshine Act Meetings” (Nov. 4, 2022).

Food and Drug Administration

87 FR 65527 Final Rule: “Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food and Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals; Supply-Chain Programs and Onsite Audits; Announcement of Effective Date” (Oct. 31, 2022).

Food and Nutrition Service

87 FR 65739 Notice—Public Comment: “Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection: Comment Request-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s Quality Control Review Schedule Form FNS-380-1″ (Nov. 1, 2022).

International Trade Administration

87 FR 66273 Notice: “Certain Preserved Mushrooms from Poland: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures” (Nov. 3, 2022).

87 FR 66262 Notice: “Certain Preserved Mushrooms from Spain: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures” (Nov. 3, 2022).

87 FR 66265 Notice: “Certain Preserved Mushrooms from the Netherlands: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures” (Nov. 3, 2022).

87 FR 66269 Notice: “White Grape Juice Concentrate from Argentina: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures” (Nov. 3, 2022).

International Trade Commission

87 FR 66323 Notice: “Sodium Nitrite from Russia” (Nov. 3, 2022).

National Agricultural Statistics Service

87 FR 66258 Notice—Public Comment: “Notice of Intent to Request Revision and Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection” (Nov. 3, 2022).

Natural Resources Conservation Service

87 FR 66640 Notice: “Determination of the Primary Purpose of Florida’s Save Our Indian River Lagoon (SOIRL) Program” (Nov. 4, 2022).

87 FR 66639 Notice—Public Comment: “Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee Meeting” (Nov. 4, 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:           

DEP Documents Farmers’ Efforts In 2021-22 To Improve Water Quality In Chesapeake Bay Watershed (Nov. 2, 2022).

Agriculture Secretary Celebrates Pennsylvania Potato Growers Centennial On Historic Franklin County Farm (Nov. 1, 2022).

Agriculture Secretary Celebrates Conservation Progress In Ag, $22.5 Million From PA Farm Bill Supporting Sustainable Farming (Oct. 31, 2022).

Ag Department Invites Proposals For $1 Million In Federal Grants To Boost Sales, Quality Of Vegetable, Fruit, Nut, Nursery Specialty Crops (Oct. 31, 2022).

PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 52, No. 45—Nov. 5, 2022): 

Department of Environmental Protection 

52 Pa.B. 6876 Notice: “Applications, Actions and Special Notices.”

52 Pa.B. 6932 Notice: “Availability of Technical Guidance.”

52 Pa.B. 6933 Notice: “Citizens Advisory Council and Environmental Justice Advisory Board Joint Meeting.”

52 Pa.B. 6933 Notice: “Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Discharges from Small Flow Treatment Facilities (PAG-04).”

52 Pa.B. 6934 Notice: “Draft Water Quality Management General Permit for Small Flow Treatment Facilities (WQG-01).”

52 Pa.B. 6935 Notice: “Environmental Justice Advisory Board Meeting and Citizens Advisory Council Joint Meeting.”

52 Pa.B. 6935 Notice: “Reclamation Committee Meeting.”

PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATURE

No new actions this week.

 

Written by:       
Dillon Lightfoot—Research Assistant
Megan Guess—Research Assistant
Audry Thompson—Staff Attorney 
Brook Duer—Staff Attorney