By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, February 21st, 2018


Here’s our gathering of recent agricultural law news you may want to know:

Ohio Department of Agriculture to hold hearing on produce safety rules. ODA will have a public meeting on March 8, 2018, to receive testimony on proposed produce safety rules. The proposed regulations closely resemble the federal FSMA regulations that establish standards for production, harvest and handling of fruits and vegetables. ODA is proposing the changes to ensure that Ohio farmers have to meet only one set of standards and that Ohio’s standards will be accepted when Ohio produce is shipped to other states. The ODA’s public notice containing links to the rules package is here.

Report criticizes Ohio’s Beef Checkoff Program. The Organization for Competitive Markets and Ohio Farmer’s Union released a report claiming that Ohio’s Beef Checkoff Program is in need of reform because it lacks adequate oversight of the collection, administration and expenditure of checkoff dollars. The report is available here.

Understanding farm equipment trades under the new tax law. The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated like-kind exchange treatment for personal property, meaning that farm equipment trades will be treated as taxable events and there will be no tax deferral for §1231 gains or §1245 recapture. Our colleague Kristin Tidgren at Iowa State has written an excellent analysis of the impacts of this tax law change, available here.

Plaintiffs ask court to vacate EPA’s XTendiMax registration. In an opening brief filed by the National Family Farm Coalition and others against U.S. EPA and Monsanto, petitioners claim that the EPA violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act by: failing to examine if the dicamba-based XTendiMax product’s use would significantly increase the risk of unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and create significant socioeconomic and agronomic costs to farmers; relying solely on label conditions to mitigate product harm even though the label did not address vapor drift by the product; and amending the label without any data or analysis of the new label conditions . The petitioners want the EPA to revoke the product’s registration.

WOTUS battles continue. It’s becoming more difficult to keep up with litigation as we await the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ lift of the nationwide stay on the 2015 WOTUS rule. New York, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA and U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers for suspending the 2015 rule, delaying it for two years, and reinstating the previous rule. Several environmental groups filed a similar lawsuit challenging the agencies’ actions in federal court in South Carolina. The American Farm Bureau and several other agricultural groups and the states of Texas and Louisiana then each filed lawsuits in the Texas, seeking a nationwide injunction to keep the 2015 rule from going into effect. Now we wait. More on the rule here.

Ohio legislation on the move:

  • Idle and orphan wells. House Bill 225 revises Ohio’s idle and orphaned well program and increases funding for the program. Sponsored by Thompson (R-Marietta). Approved by the House on January 17, 2018; first hearing before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee held on February 20, 2018.
  • Hunting licenses. House Bill 272 would expand hunting and fishing license exemptions for grandchildren of landowners and partially disabled veterans. More information here. Sponsored by Householder (R-Glenford) and Kick (R-Loudonville). Second hearing proponent testimony heard on February 13 before the House Energy & Natural Resources Committee.
  • Riparian buffersHouse Bill 460 would exempt qualifying riparian buffers in the Western Basin of Lake Erie from property taxation, reimburse local taxing units for their consequent loss of income and require soil and water conservation districts to assist landowners with establishing and maintaining riparian buffers. Sponsored by Patterson, (DJefferson) and Sheehy (D-Oregon). Second hearing proponent testimony heard on February 13 before the House Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

Just introduced:

  • Township lawsHouse Bill 500 proposes several changes to township laws, including allowing limited zoning authority over agriculture in platted subdivision areas and requiring township approval before a county vacates a public township road. Introduced in the House by Cafagna (R-Genoa Township) on February 13 and referred to the State and Local Government Committee on February 20.