A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions to: camarigg at uark.edu


ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us TODAY at 12 noon (ET) for an Agricultural & Food Law Consortium webinar: “Digesting the FSMA Animal Food Rule.” Details available here.


JUDICIAL: Includes labor, estate planning and herbicide issues.

In TOIGO ORCHARDS, LLC and Nationwide Insurance Company, Petitioners v. WORKERS’ COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (GAFFNEY), Respondent, No. 722 C.D. 2016, 2017 WL 957760 (Pa. Commw. Ct. March 13, 2017), petitioners appealed decision by Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board granting Claimant benefits for loss of vision in his eye. Issue was whether he was a seasonal employee “for purposes of determining the correct average weekly wage (AWW).” On appeal, employer argued Claimant was a seasonal employee. Court noted Claimant was “hired as a tractor driver . . . and a tractor driver can perform his work for pay throughout the year.” Court also noted Claimant “did not have a contract prohibiting him from finding work as a laborer somewhere else.” Affirmed Board decision that Claimant was not a seasonal employee.

In the Matter of the Estate of LESTER J. KILE, Deceased, 34048-1-III, 2017 WL 959545 (Wash. Ct. App. March 7, 2017) involved a dispute between a brother and sister regarding interpretation of their father’s will. On appeal, sister claimed trial court erred in considering extrinsic evidence (a deposition), when construing the will. At issue was the term “operates” with respect to its meaning in the father’s Farm Trust. Sister argued the term equates with “to manage.” Brother claimed “operates” equated with “to farm.” Court observed that, “Both interpretations are reasonable meanings for the word ‘operates’ in the context of running a farm.” Court affirmed trial court’s conclusion that “operates” was ambiguous and that it was “free to consider extrinsic evidence bearing on the question.”

GARFIELD H. WILLIAMS, APPELLANT, v. DAVID J. SHULKIN, M.D., SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, APPELLEE, No. 15-4035, 2017 WL 958597 (Vet. App. March 13, 2017) concerned an appeal of a Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) decision denying appellant’s claims for service connection for prostate cancer and diabetes. Court considered Board’s denial of service connection based on appellant’s exposure to herbicide. Court noted that the, “VA has determined that a ‘special consideration of herbicide exposure on a factual basis should be extended to [v]eterans whose duties placed them on or near the perimeters of Thailand military bases.’” Appellant argued Board did not adequately seek evidence from the Department of Defense regarding his exposure to herbicide while serving in the armed forces in the mid-60s before denying his claim. Appellate court agreed and vacated Board’s decision.


REGULATORY: Includes AMS, EPA, FDA, FNS, FS, and NOAA rules and notices.

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE: Rule implements a recommendation from the Florida Tomato Committee for an increase in the assessment rate established for the 2016-17 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.03 to $0.035 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. Details here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Rule establishes time-limited tolerances for residues of streptomycin in or on fruit, citrus, group 10-10, for both fresh fruit and dried pulp. Info here.

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION:

Notice FDA regulations mandate the application of HACCP procedures to the processing of fruit and vegetable juices. Details here.

Notice that a proposed collection of information has been submitted to OMB regarding the use of focus group findings. Info here.

FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE:

Notice FNS seeks input on the use of the current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program income conversion factors used to anticipate a household’s income for the purposes of SNAP eligibility when a household’s income is received on a weekly or biweekly basis. Info here.

Notice USDA announces adjusted income eligibility guidelines to be used by State agencies in determining the income eligibility of persons applying to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE: Notice the Humboldt Resource Advisory Committee will meet in Winnemucca, Nevada. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska. Info here.

Rule NMFS issues these regulations pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the incidental taking of marine mammals incidental to Russian River estuary management activities in Sonoma County, California, over the course of five years. Details here.

Notice the Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact associated with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Mad River Hatchery Genetics Management Plan for winter-run steelhead hatchery production is now available. Info here.

Notice NMFS announces a public meeting of the Permanent Advisory Committee to advise the U.S. Commissioners to the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean on April 13, 2017. Details here.