Farmland Preservation: Appraiser Pleads Guilty to Agricultural Conservation Easement Fraud
On May 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a North Carolina land appraiser, Walter “Terry” Douglas Roberts II, pleaded guilty to fraudulently inflating the value of at least eighteen agricultural conservation easements “by at least 70%,” allowing landowners to claim fraudulent tax deductions. United States v. Lewis, No. 1:21-cr-00231 (N.D. Ga.). The DOJ stated that the inflated appraisals led to more than $460 million in fraudulent tax deductions that resulted in $129 million in lost tax revenue.
Dairy Policy: FMMO Petitions on Make Allowances Clarified
On May 30, 2023, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) responded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) April 28, 2023, request to outline the specific make allowance values requested in IDFA’s March 28, 2023 petition for federal milk marketing order (FMMO) amendment. IDFA sent the letter in response to USDA’s reply to IDFA’s petition, filed April 28, 2023, requesting the specific make allowance values. Additionally, on May 30, 2023, co-petitioner Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) filed similar supplemental information for its March 28, 2023 petition seeking the same relief. AMS has published all petitions and correspondence regarding the IDFA and WCMA petitions on its website, Federal Milk Marketing Orders Petitions. For background, see ALWR—April 10, 2023, “IDFA Files Petition to Amend Federal Milk Marketing Orders.”
Pesticides/Herbicides: EPA Publishes FWS Draft Biological Opinion for Enlist Herbicides
On May 24, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a memorandum opening a 60-day public comment period on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) draft biological opinion (BiOp) on Enlist One and Enlist Duo herbicides. The draft BiOp considered the herbicides’ impacts on twenty-two endangered or threatened species and stems from an assessment that suggests that the products, as proposed, do not affect the species’ survival. The BiOp recommends removing restrictions on Enlist herbicides in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina and replacing current restrictions with sub-county restrictions in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. The comment period on the BiOp closes July 24, 2023.
Biotechnology: EPA Publishes Final Rule Exempting Certain Biologically Engineered Plant-Incorporated Protectants
On May 25, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a final rule on the exemption of plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs) created using new genetic engineering technologies. Also announced by EPA, the final rule exempts this class of PIPs from certain registration requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as “from the food or feed residue tolerance requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).” New PIPs will be eligible for these exemptions if they pose no greater risk than previously EPA-approved PIPs and “could have otherwise been created through conventional breeding.” The rule will go into effect on July 31, 2023.
Crop Insurance: Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Seeks Public Comment on Prevented Planting Provisions, Hosts Listening Sessions
On May 23, 2023, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) published notice in the Federal Register, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced, that public comment will be accepted until September 1, 2023, on the prevented planting provisions of the Common Crop Insurance Policy (CCIP), Basic Provisions. According to the notice, the FCIC seeks feedback on (a) “additional prevented planting coverage based on harvest prices in situations when harvest prices are higher than established prices initially set by FCIC prior to planting;” (b) “the requirement that acreage must have been planted to a crop, insured, and harvested, in at least 1 of the 4 most recent crop years;” (c) “additional levels of prevented planting coverage;” and (d) “prevented planting coverage on contracted crops.” RMA will hold in-person and virtual listening sessions in several states between June and August 2023.
Water Quality: Colorado Administrative Court Orders Nonpoint Source Monitoring for CAFO Permits
On May 22, 2023, in litigation commenced by two environmental advocacy groups, the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts (OAC) issued an order directing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to modify its General Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), to require “representative monitoring” for pollution “to surface water through groundwater with a direct hydrological connection to surface water.”
Local Agriculture Policy: Minnesota Governor Signs Omnibus Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Bill
On May 18, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law an omnibus bill appropriating more than $800 million for agriculture, broadband, and rural development (SF 1955). Also announced by the governor’s office, the bill provides funding for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture through fiscal years 2024 and 2025 and includes a $148 million increase in general fund spending for agricultural programs. The bill also includes $1.6 million to combat invasive species; over $27 million for the agricultural growth, research, and innovation program; $1.25 million for soil health equipment; $10 million to establish a state grain indemnity fund; and $4 million for Dairy Assistance, Investment, Relief Initiative (DAIRI) grants.
CENTER PROGRAMS & RESOURCES
An Overview of U.S. Charitable Food Surplus Programs. Free webinar presented in partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center.
- June 21, 2023, noon–1 pm (ET). Register.
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. Upcoming:
- June 23, 2023, noon–1 pm (ET). Understanding the Basics of the Farm Credit System. Register.
Multi-District Antitrust Litigation in the Protein Sectors (Poultry, Pork and Beef), free webinar presented in partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center available for on-demand viewing, recorded May 17, 2023.
Dairy Quarterly Legal Webinar. A free quarterly Zoom webinar series covering 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. Recent in the series:
- 1st Quarter 2023—Int’l Dairy Trade: Canada-U.S. USMCA Arbitration Round 2, recorded April 18, 2023:
Resources of Interest:
- USDA ERS’s Amber Waves, Farm Animal Welfare Policies Cover Breeding Sows, Veal Calves, or Laying Hens in 14 U.S. States, Danielle J. Ufer (Apr. 24, 2023).
- USDA ERS’s Amber Waves, Commercial Farms Led in Government Payments in 2021, Dipak Subedi, et al. (May 15, 2023).
- Nat’l Law Ctr. The Deal with Dicamba: Plaintiffs Ask Court to Vacate 2020 Registration Decision Brigit Rollins (May 25, 2023).
- Law & Tax’n Blog, Victory for Property Rights—SCOTUS Narrows Federal Control of Land Use, Roger A. McEowen (May 27, 2023).
- Agric. Law & Tax’n Blog, Tax Potpourri—Hobby Losses; Employer-Provided Housing; Tax Computation for Fuel Blenders; and Conservation Easement Deeds, Roger A. McEowen (May 24, 2023).
- Iowa St. Univ. Ctr. Agric. Law & Tax’n, U.S. Supreme Court Restricts Federal Jurisdiction Over Wetlands, (May 26, 2023).
- Southern Ag Today, The Silly Season Has Begun…Must Be Farm Bill Time, Joe Outlaw and David Anderson (May 25, 2023).
- Prog. Farmer, Regenerative Agriculture Has Long-Term Financial Dividends, But Early Transition Losses, Chris Clayton (May 25, 2023).
- Prog. Farmer, National Crackdown on Diesel Emissions Tampering Brings Focus on Right to Repair, Todd Neeley (May 15, 2023).
- Prog. Farmer’s Ag Policy Blog, Wetlands Seen Differently Now; Reaction to Sackett Case Reflects Ag-Enviro Dividing Lines, Chris Clayton and Jerry Hagstrom (May 26, 2023).
- U. of Ill.’s Farm Policy News, Supreme Court Limits EPA’s Authority Over Wetlands, Keith Good (May 26, 2023).
- Journal of Environmental Quality, Reused Poultry Litter Microbiome with Competitive Exclusion Potential Against SalmonellaHeidelberg, Maite Ghazaleh Bucher, et al.
- Nebraska Farmer, Insurance Tools for Livestock and Dairy Producers, Bradley D. Lubben (May 10. 2023).
- U. of Neb-Linc, Center for Agricultural Profitability, Meeting Minutes Requirements for Farm and Ranch Businesses, Jessica Groskopf, Dave Aiken (Feb. 2. 2023).
- U.S. Sen. Ag. Committee Hearing, Horticulture Title: How the Farm Bill Works for Specialty Crop Producers, June 7, 2023, 10 am, livestream.
- U.S. Sen. Judiciary Committee Hearing, From Farm to Table: Immigrant Workers Get the Job Done, recorded May 31, 2023.
- U.S. House Ag. Committee Hearing, Testimony from USDA’s NRCS and FSA, recorded May 23, 2023.
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].
FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) PRESS RELEASES
Don’t Let Your Outdoor Meal Become a Feast for Bacteria (May 23, 2023)
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) PRESS RELEASES
STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT DECISION IN SACKETT v. EPA (May 25, 2023)
USDA AGENCY PRESS RELEASES:
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register May 22–26, 2023):
Agricultural Marketing Service
88 FR 33846 Referendum order: “Cranberries Grown in the States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Long Island in the State of New York; Continuance Referendum” (May 25, 2023).
88 FR 33815 Correcting amendment: “National Organic Program; National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (2022 Sunset); Correction” (May 25, 2023)
88 FR 32721 Notice: 2023/2024 “Rates Charged for AMS Services” (May 22, 2023).
88 FR 33860 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request” (May 25, 2023).
88 FR 32726 Notice: “Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request” (May 22, 2023).
88 FR 32762 Notice: “Notice of Intent for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Section 40551: Weatherization Assistance Program Enhancement & Innovation FOA” (May 22, 2023).
Environmental Protection Agency
88 FR 34152 Notice: “Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Performance Evaluation Studies on Wastewater Laboratories (Renewal)” (May 26, 2023).
88 FR 34100 Notice: “Updates to New Chemicals Regulations Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)” (May 26, 2023).
88 FR 33876 Notice: “Notice of Availability of Proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Low Threat Discharges in Navajo Nation” (May 25, 2023).
88 FR 33611 Notice: “Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Underground Storage Tank Finder Application (Renewal)” (May 24, 2023).
88 FR 33612 Notice: “Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs (Renewal)” (May 24, 2023).
88 FR 33722 Notice of proposed rulemaking: “Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Listing of Substitutes Under the Significant New Alternatives Policy Program in Commercial and Industrial Refrigeration” (May 24, 2023).
88 FR 32767 Notice: “Pesticide Product Registration; Receipt of Applications for New Uses (March 2023)” (May 22, 2023).
Farm Credit Administrative
88 FR 33876 Notice: “Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records” (May 25, 2023).
88 FR 33876 Notice: “Sunshine Act Meetings” (May 25, 2023).
Farm Service Agency
88 FR 33562 Notice: “Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for the Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program” (May 24, 2023).
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation
88 FR 33081 Notice: “Request for Information and Stakeholder Listening Sessions on Prevented Planting” (May 23, 2023).
88 FR 33084 Extension of approval of an information collection; comment request: “Notice of Request for Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection” (May 23, 2023).
Fish and Wildlife Service
88 FR 33194 Final Rule: “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Miami Tiger Beetle” (May 23, 2023).
Food and Drug Administration
88 FR 33550 Final Rule: “Food Labeling, Infant Formula Requirements, Food Additives and Generally Recognized as Safe Substances, New Dietary Ingredient Notification; Technical Amendments; Correction” (May 24, 2023).
88 FR 32775 Notice: “Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Third Party Disclosure and Recordkeeping Requirements for Reportable Food” (May 22, 2023).
U.S. HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE:
H.Res.451 “Recognizing the need for greater access to rural and agricultural media programming.” (May 26, 2023).
H.R.3709 “To amend the Animal Welfare Act to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into cooperative agreements to support the microchipping of dogs and cats in the care of animal shelters or similar establishments, and for other purposes.” (May 25, 2023).
H.R.3698 “To amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to expand the eligibility of disabled veterans to receive supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits.” (May 25, 2023).
H.R.3657 “To amend the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 to provide mandatory funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation for reimbursement payments to geographically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and for other purposes.” (May 24, 2023).
H.R.3650 “To amend the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to expand the national organic certification cost-share program into a comprehensive opportunities in organic program, and for other purposes.” (May 24, 2023).
H.R.3595 “To improve the process for awarding grants under certain programs of the Department of Agriculture to certain counties in which the majority of land is owned or managed by the Federal Government and to other units of local government and Tribal governments in those counties, and for other purposes.” (May 22, 2023).
H.R.3580 “To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to increase funding for the conservation stewardship program, and for other purposes.” (May 22, 2023).
H.R.3562 “Forest Service Flexible Housing Partnerships Act of 2023” (May 22, 2023).
H.R.3499 “To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide direct hire authority to appoint individuals to Federal wildland firefighting and firefighting support positions in the Forest Service or the Department of the Interior, and for other purposes.” (May 23, 2023).
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY:
STATE ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE PRESS RELEASES:
PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 53, No. 18—May 6, 2023):
Department of Environmental Protection
53 Pa.B. 2837 Applications: “The Pennsylvania Clean Steams Law and the Federal Clean Water Act – 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”
53 Pa.B. 2900 Notice: “Storage Tank Advisory Committee Meeting Cancellation”
HB 1200 “An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, further providing for prevailing wage.” Referred to Labor and Industry, May 19, 2023 [House] (May 20, 2023).
HB 1253 “An Act amending the act of January 17, 1968 (P.L.11, No.5), known as The Minimum Wage Act of 1968, further providing for minimum wages; and repealing provisions relating to preemption.” Referred to Labor and Industry, May 24, 2023 [House] (May 26, 2023).
Victoria Dutterer—Research Assistant
Sergio Porras—Research Assistant
Lonzie Helms—Research Assistant
Mary Johnson—Research Assistant
Brook Duer—Staff Attorney