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Hemp for One, Hemp for All?  The Farm Bill, Industrial Hemp and what it means for Ohio

Written by Ellen Essman, Senior Research Associate

Hemp is one of the most talked-about provisions of the new Farm Bill passed earlier this month by Congress and signed by the President on December 20.   There’s a lot of excitement about the removal of federal restrictions on hemp production and the economic opportunities for growing hemp.  But what exactly does the Farm Bill say about hemp?  Can Ohioans now grow, use and sell hemp and hemp products?  We dove into the 807 pages of the Farm Bill Conference Report (available here for your reading pleasure) to find answers to your questions about the new legal status of hemp and hemp cultivation.

What is hemp?

Before we go much further in this discussion, it’s important to understand that both hemp and marijuana are species of cannabis, but they have different properties.  Of particular note is the fact that marijuana contains much more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than hemp.  THC is the part of a cannabis plant that can cause a psychoactive effect in certain concentrations, but hemp plants generally do not contain enough THC to produce a “high.”  Hemp has many uses— it can be used for construction materials, fabrics and clothing, and animal bedding.  It has even been discussed as a potential cover crop.  Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a very popular extract of the hemp plant that is alleged to help those with anxiety, pain, inflammation, and other ailments, but not much research has been done to verify its effectiveness for medical use.  Note that CBD is also an extract of the higher THC marijuana plant.

Hemp is removed from the federal list of controlled substances—but only if it meets certain requirements

First and foremost, the Farm Bill removes hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.  Section 12619 of the bill removes hemp from the definition of marijuana, which is still an illegal drug under federal law.  In the same section, the bill federally decriminalizes tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) in hemp.  Not all hemp, however, is subject to this exemption.  Only hemp and THC as defined in the Farm Bill and as grown under the conditions set forth in the Farm Bill are accorded the exemption.

So, how does the Farm Bill change the definition of hemp?  The main hemp provision of the bill, Section 10113, separates hemp from the definition of marijuana and redefines hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

Coming soon: state and federal hemp production plans

The new law doesn’t allow a producer to start growing hemp today.  Instead, Section 10113 of the Farm Bill describes the two situations under which a producer will be able to engage in legal hemp production in the future.  In the first situation, the States or Indian tribes may take charge of the regulation of hemp production within their boundaries.  To do this, a State must first submit a plan to the USDA through their state department of agriculture.  A State plan must include:

  1. A way to keep track of land where hemp is produced within the state;
  2. Methods the state will use to test how much THC is in hemp plants;
  3. A way to dispose of plants or products that have a higher THC concentration than is legally allowed;
  4. A procedure for inspecting hemp producers;
  5. A plan for enforcing the law;
  6. A system for dissemination of a hemp producer’s information to the USDA; and
  7. Assurances that the state has the resources to carry out the plan.

A producer who wants to cultivate hemp in a State that has an approved hemp production plan must first comply with the State’s plan before beginning to grow hemp.   Predictions are that it may take a State about a year to create its hemp production plan and obtain the required USDA approval for the plan.

The second situation for growing hemp comes into play if a State or Tribe does not submit a hemp plan to USDA.  In this case, as long as the State has not limited the regulation or production of hemp under state law, the Secretary of Agriculture for the USDA may establish a plan “to monitor and regulate” hemp production within that State.  A plan established by the USDA must meet the same criteria as a plan written by a State, and the law also requires the USDA to establish a licensing procedure for producers.   Thus, a producer in a State that doesn’t have a hemp plan could legally grow hemp by obtaining a USDA hemp license through the hemp regulations that the USDA will develop, unless the State has prohibited hemp cultivation.  Section 10113 specifically states that it does not preempt or limit any state law that “regulates the production of hemp” as well as any state law that is “more stringent” than federal law in regulating hemp production.  Thus, a State can outlaw hemp production within its boundaries or include additional restrictions and requirements in its State plan as long as the plan complies with the federal law requirements.

Handling producer violations

What if a hemp producer doesn’t comply with the new law or with the State or USDA hemp production plan?  Section 10113 also describes how violations of the law will be handled.  If a hemp producer negligently violates a State or USDA hemp production plan, the producer could be subject to enforcement.  One negligent violation of the plan would not trigger criminal punishment, but the violator would have to comply with a corrective action plan prescribed by the State or USDA.  However, if a producer negligently violates a plan three times in five years, the producer will be banned from producing hemp for five years. Examples of negligent violations in the law include: not providing a legal description of the land where hemp is produced, growing hemp without obtaining a license “or other required authorization” from the State, Tribe, or USDA, or producing hemp with a THC concentration higher than 0.3 percent. If a producer violates a State or USDA plan “with a culpable mental state greater than negligence” (that is, purposely, knowingly, or recklessly), then the State or USDA must report the violation to law enforcement authorities.  Furthermore, persons convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance under state or federal law are generally barred from hemp production for ten years following the date of their conviction, with the exception of persons convicted of a controlled substances felony but lawfully participating in a pilot program under the 2014 Farm Bill.  Finally, if a person falsifies an application to participate in hemp production, that person will be totally barred from producing hemp.

Legal hemp not to be prohibited in interstate commerce

The new law also allows for the interstate commerce of legally produced hemp and hemp products. Section 10114 says that a State or Indian Tribe cannot prevent the transportation or shipment of legally produced hemp through its state or territory.  While a State may ban the sale of hemp or hemp products solely within its borders, it must allow hemp products to move freely through the State.  For example, imagine that Pennsylvania allows hemp production but Ohio does not.  Producers of legal hemp in Pennsylvania could not sell the hemp within Ohio, but Ohio could not prohibit a truck, train, or other type of transport from carrying the hemp through Ohio to a destination outside of Ohio.

Hemp becomes eligible for crop insurance

Importantly, the Farm Bill also addresses hemp production risk by amending the Federal Crop Insurance Act to include hemp.  Section 1119 adds hemp to the definition of “agricultural commodities” that can be insured and section 11106 adds legally produced hemp to the list of crops that can be insured even after harvested.  Other provisions in Title XI waive marketability requirements for researching hemp.

Making way for hemp research funding

Several provisions in the Farm Bill ensure that it is legally permissible to fund hemp research.  Section 7129 amends the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to award grants for researching hemp and the development of hemp products.  In section 7501, the bill amends the Critical Agricultural Materials Act to allow research on hemp, meaning that Congress believes hemp has the “potential of producing critical materials for strategic and industrial purposes.”

Finally, section 7605 amends the hemp pilot program language from the 2014 Farm Bill (for information on the pilot program, see our previous blog post).  The Secretary of Agriculture is tasked with conducting a study on the pilot program and submitting a report on the study to Congress within a year.  Section 7605 also repeals the hemp pilot programs, but only one year after final regulation on hemp production under section 10113 is published.

How does current Ohio law treat hemp production?

Ohio law defines marijuana as “all parts of a plant of the genus cannabis…” in Ohio Revised Code section 3719.01.  Hemp is in the genus cannabis, as discussed earlier in this post.  Therefore, under current Ohio law, hemp is the same as marijuana.  Marijuana is a controlled substance under Ohio law, and the law states that “[n]o person shall knowingly obtain, possess, or use a controlled substance.”

What about hemp-derived CBD oil?  Ohio enacted a medical marijuana law in 2016, although dispensaries in the state have yet to open (so far, only one dispensary in the state has been licensed).  In order to obtain medical marijuana in Ohio, it would have to be prescribed by a physician with which the patient has a “bona fide physician-client relationship,” and the patient would have to have a qualifying medical condition.  Medical marijuana can be prescribed and used in oil form under the law.  Since Ohio law lumps hemp in with marijuana, this means that in order to obtain CBD oil derived from hemp, a person would also have to follow the steps to obtain medical marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD oil also does not fall under any exceptions in Ohio’s definition of marijuana.  Ohio’s State Board of Pharmacy specifically stated in a guidance document that CBD oil can only be legally dispensed from a licensed dispensary.  In releasing this guidance, the Board of Pharmacy is purporting to act under the rulemaking authority granted under ORC 3796.04.

Note, however, that there are exceptions to Ohio’s definition of marijuana.  According to Ohio law, marijuana “does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oils or cake made from the seeds of the plant, or any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, except the resin extracted from the mature stalks, fiber, oil or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant that is incapable of germination.”  Since hemp falls under the definition of marijuana, it is possible that some of these exceptions could also apply to certain hemp products made from stalks or seeds. Thus, it is plausible that some hemp products could be sold and used in Ohio.  The law also states, however, that no person (other than those licensed under the medical marijuana law) “shall knowingly cultivate” marijuana.  Again, since hemp is part of the state’s definition of marijuana, under the law, that means that nobody can “knowingly cultivate” hemp, either.

In sum, it appears as though some excepted hemp products could be sold in Ohio, but not CBD oil, as it does not fall under the exception.  Even if some hemp products can be sold in Ohio, hemp itself cannot currently be cultivated in Ohio.  The new hemp language in the Farm Bill allows states to be more restrictive with hemp than the federal government, so Ohio can continue its ban on certain hemp products even with the new federal law.  The State cannot, however, stop the transportation of hemp across the State, as explained above.  Conversely, Ohio’s General Assembly could remove hemp from Ohio’s definition of marijuana and redefine hemp according to the Farm Bill’s new definition, which could allow for legal hemp cultivation under the Farm Bill.  For the time being, growing hemp in Ohio is not legal, but that is subject to change.

Stay tuned to the Ag Law Blog for continuing updates on hemp laws!

 

 

 

 

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An overview of Ohio’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review

Written by Ellen Essman

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) plays an important role in Ohio’s government. Its review of new and old rules assists in verifying that administrative rules are not duplicative, overly-burdensome, or costly.  Among other things, JCARR also helps to confirm that rules in fact carry out what the legislature had in mind when passing the law.  In fact, on Monday, December 10, 2018, JCARR will decide the fate of the controversial watersheds in distress rules (we explained the proposed rules in this blog post) prompted by Governor Kasich’s July 2018 executive order.

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, often referred to by its acronym, JCARR, was enacted by the Ohio General Assembly in 1977, and is codified in section 101.35 of the Ohio Revised Code.  JCARR is charged with “review[ing] proposed new, amended, and rescinded rules” from Ohio’s administrative agencies.  The state’s administrative agencies are numerous and include the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, just to name a few.  The administrative agencies are responsible for making the administrative rules to help carry out the Ohio General Assembly’s legislation.

Make-up of the committee

JCARR is made up of five members of each house of the Ohio General Assembly, meaning that five members from the house of representatives and five members from the senate make up the full committee.  The speaker of the house appoints the five representatives, and the president of the senate appoints the five senators.  The appointments must be bipartisan; each house may only appoint three members of the same political party.  During the general assembly’s first regular session, the speaker of the house chooses the chairperson of JCARR from their house appointees, and the president of the senate chooses the vice-chair.  During the second regular session, the chair and vice-chair are chosen in the reverse.

Conditions that rules must meet

If JCARR reviews an administrative rule and finds that rule to “violates one or more” of six requirements, the committee may “make a recommendation to invalidate the rule.”  The six requirements are as follows:

  1. The rules do not exceed the scope of the rule-making agency’s statutory authority;
  2. The rules do not conflict with a rule of that agency or another rule-making agency;
  3. The rules do not conflict with the intent of the legislature in enacting the statute under which the rule is proposed;
  4. The rule-making agency has prepared a complete and accurate rule summary and fiscal analysis of the proposed rule, amendment, or rescission (Revised Code 18);
  5. The rule-making agency has met the incorporation by reference standards for a text or other material as stated in Revised Code 72, Revised Code 121.75, or Revised Code 121.76; and
  6. If the rule has an adverse impact on business (Revised Code 52), the rule-making agency has demonstrated through the business impact analysis, the Common Sense Initiative office recommendations, and the agency’s memorandum of response to the recommendations, that the regulatory intent of the rule justifies its adverse impact on business.

Rule Invalidation

If a rule is found to violate any of the conditions listed above, a member of JCARR can move to recommend a resolution to invalidate the rule.  The motion for invalidation must include the reason for the invalidation specifically based on one or more of the above conditions.  The motion can be to invalidate the whole rule, or just part of the rule.  If the motion for invalidation is seconded by another committee member, the members of JCARR can then vote on the motion.  A majority of the committee is required to recommend a resolution for amended, revised, and rescinded rules.  A two-thirds super majority is required to recommend a resolution to invalidate a no-change 5 year review.

If a motion for invalidation passes JCARR, the rule is put into suspension, meaning the administrative agency cannot proceed with the rule.  A member of the committee then writes a concurrent resolution about invalidating the rule. Then, depending on which house the writer of the resolution comes from, the resolution goes to the house of representatives or senate, where the body has five session days to act on the resolution.  If that time lapses, or there is no majority vote within five days, then the resolution dies, meaning the rule would no longer be suspended.  If the resolution does pass the first body by majority vote, it then goes to the other house of General Assembly.  Again, in the second body, the resolution must be voted on within 5 session days and be passed by a majority vote.  If the resolution does not pass or is not voted on, again, the rule comes out of suspension.  Finally, if the concurrent resolution for invalidating the rule passes both the house and senate, the rule is invalidated.

5 Year Review of Rules

Administrative agencies in Ohio must review their administrative rules every five years.  The first part of the review requires the agency to ascertain whether or not the rule has a harmful effect on business in the state of Ohio. If the agency decides that the rule does have a bad impact on business, then the rule must be sent to the Common Sense Initiative office (CSI).  The CSI is charged with finding ways to diminish the effects on business.

After the analysis of the effect on business, the agency decides whether or not the rule needs to be updated or removed.  Upon deciding that a rule needs to be changed or removed, the agency must then file the rule with JCARR as a five year amended or rescinded rule.  Then, JCARR goes through the process described above—the committee determines whether the amended or rescinded rule violates any of the six requirements, and if it does, the committee follows the process for rule invalidation.

If the agency determines that the rule should remain as it is, then it should file the rule as a five year no-change rule.  JCARR then considers the following questions as pertains to the no-change rule:

  • Should the rule be continued based on the intent of the statute under which the rule was adopted?
  • Should the rule be amended to give more flexibility at the local level?
  • Should the rule be rescinded or eliminated because of unnecessary paperwork?
  • Does the rule meet the standards for incorporation by reference?
  • Does the rule duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other rules?
  • Is there a continued need for the rule?
  • If the rule has an adverse impact on business, did the rulemaker demonstrate through the business impact analysis, CSI recommendations, and the memorandum of response that the regulatory intent of the rule justifies its adverse impact on business?

If JCARR finds that one of the above questions was violated or not sufficiently addressed by the agency, then the committee can entertain a motion for invalidation of the rule, triggering the rule invalidation process discussed above.

More information

JCARR has an excellent website with informative videos and other information about its purpose and how it carries out the review process, available here.  For a deeper dive into JCARR and the review process, the committee’s procedure manual is also very helpful.

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The Ag Law Harvest

Written by: Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow

The midterm elections are over, and Thanksgiving is upon us.  A lot of activity is expected out of Washington and Columbus as the legislative sessions wind up.  The OSU Extension Agricultural and Resource Law team will continue to keep you up to date on the legal issues affecting agriculture as we enter into the holiday season.

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

State of Ohio sued over wind turbine setbacks.  Four farmers in Paulding County have joined with The Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition to sue the State of Ohio over wind turbine setbacks added to the 2014 biennial budget that some allege curtailed wind energy development in Ohio.  In that budget bill, lawmakers included provisions late in the lawmaking process to amend Ohio Revised Code § 4906.20, which establishes the setback requirements for wind turbines.  Those provisions more than doubled the distance that wind turbines must be located away from the nearest residential structures.  The plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that including these restrictions in the budget bill violated the single-subject provisions of the Ohio Constitution because the setbacks lack a “common purpose or relationship” to the rest of the budget bill.  On this issue, the Ohio Supreme Court said in the case In re Nowak (cited as 2004-Ohio-6777) that the single-subject rule is a requirement that legislators must abide by, but that only a “manifestly gross and fraudulent” violation will result in the law being struck down.  The plaintiff’s complaint is available here.  Stay tuned to the Harvest for updates.

Department of Labor proposes rule requiring H-2A advertisements be posted online.  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on November 9th that would change how employers must advertise available positions before they may obtain H-2A worker permits.  H-2A permits are work visas for temporary agricultural workers who are non-U.S. citizens.  Currently, employers must advertise work in a local newspaper of general circulation for at least two consecutive days, one of which must be a Sunday.  This requirement is located in the Code of Federal Regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 655.151.  The DOL now proposes to modernize the recruitment advertising rule by requiring employers to post the jobs online instead of in print.  The DOL’s notice explained that it believes online postings would more effectively and efficiently give U.S. workers notice of job opportunities.  Further, the notice explained that the DOL intends to only require online advertisements, which would render newspaper advertisements unnecessary.  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a press release in support of the DOL’s proposal.  The public may submit comments to the DOL about the proposed rule.  Those wishing to comment may do so until December 10th, 2018, by visiting the proposed rule’s webpage in the Federal Register.

LLC agreement to adjust member financial contributions must be in writing.  The Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals recently affirmed a decision finding a verbal agreement to adjust contributions between members of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to be unenforceable, even if the other party admitted to making the statements.  Ohio Revised Code § 1715.09(B) requires a signed writing in order to enforce a “promise by a member to contribute to the limited liability company,” and therefore the court could not enforce an oral agreement to adjust contributions.  The Fourth District Court of Appeals heard the case of Gardner v. Paxton, which was originally originally filed in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas.  The plaintiff, Mr. Gardener, argued that his business partner breached an agreement to share in LLC profits and losses equally.  In order to share equally, both parties would have needed to adjust their contributions, but Mr. Paxton only made verbal offers that were never reduced to writing.  Because there was no writing, Mr. Paxton’s statements were not enforceable by his business associate against him.

Ohio legislation on the move:

The Ohio General Assembly has returned from the midterm elections with a potentially busy lame duck session ahead of it.  Already a number of bills that we have been monitoring have seen activity in their respective committees.

  • Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee held first hearing on multi-parcel auction bill. State senators heard testimony on House Bill 480 last Tuesday, November 13th.  The bill would authorize the Ohio Department of Agriculture to regulate multi-parcel auctions, which are currently not specifically addressed in the Ohio Revised Code.  The bill also defines “multi-parcel auction,” saying such an auction is one involving real or personal property in which multiple parcels or lots are offered for sale in part or in whole.  The bill would also establish certain advertising requirements.  The bill’s primary sponsor, Representative Brian Hill of Zanesville, says that he introduced the bill in an effort to recognize by statute what auctioneers are already doing, and to do so without interrupting the industry.  The bill passed the Ohio House of Representatives 93-0 in June.  For more information on the legislation, visit the House Bill 480 page on Ohio General Assembly’s website or view this bill analysis prepared by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

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A wave of “watersheds in distress” activity

Written by Ellen Essman, Sr. Research Associate

Readers of the Ag Law Blog will recall our previous posts regarding Governor Kasich’s “watersheds in distress” executive order and the rules proposed to accompany the order.  The proposed rules were recently filed and the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission continues to hold meetings about which watersheds will actually be designated as “distressed.”

“Watersheds in Distress” rules are filed and hearing is scheduled

On October 15, 2018, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) filed the proposed watersheds in distress rules in the Register of Ohio, which would make changes to Ohio Administrative Code Sections 901:13-1-11, 901:13-1-19, and 901:13-1-99.  A hearing on the proposed amendments will be held on November 20, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. in the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Bromfield Administration Building, Auditorium 141, 8995 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 43068-3399.  Interested members of the public are invited to attend and participate.  Written comments are also welcomed, and information about where to send such comments can be found here.  Below, we will outline the proposed changes to each rule in turn.

  • OAC 901:13-1-11

OAC 901:13-1-11 currently only applies to land application of manure in watersheds in distress.  The proposed changes to the rule would also make it applicable to the land application of “nutrients,” or “nitrogen, phosphorous, or a combination of both,” in watersheds in distress.  Under the proposed amendments, those responsible “for the land application of nutrients on more than fifty acres” of agricultural land would not be allowed to “surface apply nutrients:”

 

a. On snow-covered or frozen soil;

b. When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation; and

c. In a granular form when the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a fifty per cent chance of precipitation exceeding one inch in a twelve-hour period.

The same restrictions would apply for manure.  If either manure or nutrients are “injected into the ground,” “incorporated within twenty-four hours of surface application,” or “applied to a growing crop,” however, the above restrictions would not apply.

The proposed changes would also alter and remove some language currently in the rule.  The new rule would also remove the date restrictions on the surface application of manure that currently exist, as well as the requirement that the responsible party keep records of the local weather forecast.  A document with the proposed amendments can be found here.

  • OAC 901:13-19

Proposed changes to OAC 901:13-19 would require those who apply nutrients to more than fifty acres annually in a watershed in distress to “develop and operate in conformance with a nutrient management plan.”  The original rule only applies to those applying manure.  The new rule would also require “an attestation to the completion” of nutrient management plans to be “submitted” to the Director of ODA.  The Director would also be given the power to “establish a deadline for all NMPs to be completed,” which would have to happen twelve to thirty-six months after the designation of a watershed in distress.  The Director would also have the power to request NMPs from producers.  The new rule would further require ODA to audit at least five percent of the attestations every year. Attestations would have to be completed each time an NMP is updated.

As for the content in the NMPs, the proposed rule would remove date prohibitions on manure application.  The proposed rule also prescribes the form that NMP plans for nutrient application must take, as well as the information that must be included.  The proposed rule would also change some language around so that parts that once only applied to manure would apply to nutrients, as well.  The proposed changes to OAC 901:13-19 can be found here.

  • OAC 901:13-1-99

OAC 901:13-1-99 contains the civil penalties for violating any of the rules in 901:13-1.  The proposed changes to this section would reflect the changes to the other sections discussed above by including penalties for violating the new rule provisions.

More meetings will be held to determine which watersheds are “distressed”

In addition to the proposed rules for watersheds in distress, activity is also taking place on which particular watersheds within the Western Lake Erie Basin will actually be designated “distressed.”  To this end, the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission has held several public meetings throughout the summer and fall to examine the question.  Today, November 1, 2018, the Commission will hold yet another public meeting, where a vote on which watersheds are designated “distressed” may occur.

Stay tuned to the Ag Law Blog for updates on watershed in distress designations and the accompanying proposed rules!

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The Ag Law Harvest

Written by: Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, and Ellen Essman, Sr. Research Associate

Here’s a gathering of recent agricultural law news from OSU’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program:

FDA seeks comments, asking “what is milk?”  The Food and Drug Administration recently posted a request for public comment in the Federal Register regarding the labeling of plant-based products that use terms associated with dairy in their names.  The FDA explains that it wants to know how consumers use products like soy milk and whether such labels provide enough clarity to consumers.  The press releases can be viewed here.  The public may submit comments here until November 27th, 2018.

Sixth Circuit says Clean Water Act does not cover discharges into ground water.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which includes Ohio, published an opinion on September 24th that seems to limit the extent of the Clean Water Act.  At issue in Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority was whether the TVA violated the Clean Water Act by dumping coal ash into a pond that was leaking into ground water that eventually would reach the Cumberland River.  The Fourth and Ninth Circuits previously published opinions saying that an underground “hydrological connection” between protected navigable Waters of the United States and unprotected ground water was enough to require a Clean Water Act permit.  In rejecting this approach, the Sixth Circuit creates a split that may send this question to the Supreme Court.  For now, the law in the Sixth Circuit, and therefore Ohio, is that a discharge into an underground water source that has a hydrological connection to a federal navigable water is not a discharge from a point source that triggers Clean Water Act protections.  The Sixth Circuit’s opinion is available online here.

Water Infrastructure Bill Headed to the President’s Desk.  After a bipartisan effort, Congress passed “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” on Wednesday with a 99-1 vote in the Senate.  The House had approved the bill by a voice vote in mid-September.  If signed by the President, the law would authorize the Army Corps of Engineer to carry out a variety of river and harbor improvements across the country, along with other conservation and water resource development projects.  The bill did not specifically earmark projects for Ohio, but it did authorize a Coastal Resiliency Study for the Great Lakes.  Also included in the bill was a reauthorization for the Safe Drinking Water Act, which authorizes the U.S. EPA to set drinking water standards and work toward reaching those standards.  Visit Congress’s website for the full text of the Senate Bill 3021.

States wait to decide on whether to end joint Ohio River standards.  Currently, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) sets water quality standards and performs assessments for the Ohio River Basin.  Formed in 1948, ORSANCO includes representatives from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the federal government.  The members of the commission were set last week to vote on whether to decentralize the setting of water quality standards, and instead have the individual states along the Ohio River set their own standards.  The vote was postponed in order to provide commissioners with more time to consider the proposal.  According to WCPO Cincinnati and Politico, opponents of the proposal say that this could harm water quality by allowing conflicting standards, while proponents argue that the commission’s role is redundant in light of the U.S. EPA’s jurisdiction over the Ohio River and its major tributaries.  Learn more about ORSANCO by visiting their website.

Multi-year and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses become available in Ohio.  As we reported in a Harvest post earlier this year, Governor Kasich signed a bill into law that created multi-year and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses for residents of Ohio, and that allows the Division of Wildlife to offer licensure “packages” for any combination of licenses, permits, or stamps.  The new license categories are codified in Ohio Revised Code section 1533.321.  On Tuesday, October 9, 2018, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced that the new multi-year and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses were available for purchase.  The options include 3, 5, 10-year, and lifetime licenses for three age categories—Youth (17 and younger), Adult (18-65), and Senior (66 and older).  More information on hunting and fishing licenses can be found here, including pricing, and where and how licenses can be purchased.

NAFTA 2.0 is now USMCA.  The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has released the text of the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which President Trump intends to use as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  NAFTA is currently a federal statute, and replacing it will require an act of Congress.  The U.S. Trade Representative’s webpage contains official summaries and fact sheets regarding the agreement, along with the current text of the agreement.

 

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The Ag Law Harvest

Written by Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow and Sr. Research Associate

We’re back from another successful Farm Science Review!  Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth to ask us questions and pick up law bulletins.  We received some great suggestions on new topics affecting agricultural law, so stay tuned as we post more to our Ag Law Blog and Law Library in the near future.

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

ODA reviews meat inspection rules.  Ohio’s meat inspection rules are up for review under the state’s Five-Year Review requirement.  The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) recently posted the proposed changes to Ohio Administrative Code 901:2-1; 901:2-3; 901:2-6; and 901:2-7 for stakeholder comment on its website.  The primary changes to the substance of the rules are meant to bring them into compliance with new federal requirements that took effect earlier this year.  ODA also proposes to merge the interstate and intrastate regulations, which could change some rule numbers, but not necessarily their substance.  ODA will be accepting comments until Monday, October 1, 2018, which stakeholders may submit to AGReComments@agri.ohio.gov.

OSU explains tariff relief program and impacts.   Our good friend and economist Ben Brown and other policy experts in OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences recently published information that explains and analyzes the USDA’s response to the tariffs.  View a brief brochure that explains the Market Facilitation Program here.  View a longer report on the Market Facilitation Program and the impacts on farm income in Ohio here .

U.S. EPA petitions for new hearing on Chlorpyrifos registrations.  A panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cancel chlorpyrifos registrations in August.  The judges cited scientific evidence that the chemical insecticide causes developmental defects in children.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), on behalf of the U.S. EPA, filed a petition on Monday, September 24th, requesting an en banc hearing on the decision.  If granted, an en banc hearing would involve all the judges who serve on the Ninth Circuit, rather than only the three judges who initially ordered the cancellation of the registrations.  The U.S. DOJ argues that the August decision was incorrect and that the court should allow the U.S. EPA to reconsider the insecticide’s registration.  For more details, check out The Progressive Farmer’s post here.

License needed to broker oil and gas leases in Ohio.  On Tuesday, September 25th, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that oil and gas leases fall within the statutory definition of “real estate.”  As such, a person who offers and negotiates an oil and gas lease must have a real estate broker’s license under Ohio Revised Code § 4735.01(A) and § 4735.02(A).  Check out Court News Ohio’s webpage for more details.

No “bill of rights” vote for Lake Erie.  The group Toledoans for Safe Water sought to put a “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” on the ballot this November as an amendment to the Toledo City Charter.  The amendment would have stated that Lake Erie and its watershed “possess the right to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve,” and that the citizens of Toledo have a right to a clean and healthy environment.  Enforcement would have been through a mix of revoking corporate licenses and privileges or criminal penalties if violated.  Despite having enough signatures, the Lucas County Board of Elections refused to place the issue on the ballot, saying that the amendment contained provisions beyond the City of Toledo’s authority.  The dispute made it up to the Ohio Supreme Court, which on Friday, September 21st, decided that Toledoans for Safe Water failed to prove that the Lucas County Board of Elections improperly denied their petition to place the issue on the ballot.  The court’s decision is here.

Iowa court makes owner liable for corporate liabilities.  An Iowa Court of Appeals decision recently allowed a plaintiff who was suing a biosolids management corporation to “pierce the corporate veil” and collect directly from the sole owner of the corporation.  The plaintiff obtained a judgment of $410,067 against the corporation for breach of contract after the corporation stopped performing its work.  However, the plaintiff could not collect against the corporation, and an Iowa Court of Appeals decided that the sole owner must pay the judgement.  The court said that the owner did not conduct the business or maintain its finances in a manner that demonstrates the existence of a separate legal entity from himself or his other businesses.  The owner co-mingled corporate and personal assets and accounts, failed to keep records, and had no bylaws or meeting records.  For more on the case, visit the Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation website here, or view the case opinion here.

California passes “home cooked food” law.  California’s governor signed a bill into law last Friday that allows cities and counties to authorize and permit residents to operate “microenterprise home kitchens.”  Assembly Bill 626 exempts qualifying businesses from some food service facility regulations to allow residents to sell prepared food from their home, while also recognizing the differences between a home kitchen and a commercial kitchen.  To qualify, among other things, the operation can have no more than one full-time non-family employee, the food must be sold direct to the customer, and no more than 60 individual meals can be prepared per week.  The bill’s full text and legislative analysis are here.

Barn wedding popularity continues to grow.  Fifteen percent of weddings in the United States took place in a barn last year, according to a survey published by the wedding planning site The Knot.  In comparison, only two percent of weddings took place in a barn as recently as 2009.  The popularity of wedding barns has become a point of contention in many states, including Ohio, because statutory zoning exemptions for agriculture have been used to exempt wedding barns from zoning requirements.  We explain Ohio’s zoning exemption for “agritourism” in this law bulletin.

Ohio legislation on the move:

  • Ohio Senate refers township bill to committee.  The Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 500 earlier this summer, and the bill has recently been referred to the Ohio Senate’s Local Government, Public Safety, and Veterans Affairs Committee.  House Bill 500 proposes to make a number of changes to Ohio’s township statutes, including a change to agricultural zoning regulations.  If passed as-is, the bill would allow a township to use zoning to regulate agricultural activities within any platted subdivision.  Under current law, townships are limited to a specified list of platted subdivisions that townships may regulate; however, the new law clarifies that the specified list is not intended to be exclusive.  For more information on the bill, view the bill analysis produced by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, or visit the Ohio General Assembly’s website here.

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The Ag Law Harvest

All is quiet at the statehouse as the Ohio legislature continues its summer recess, but here’s our gathering of other agricultural law news you may want to know:

Does Roundup cause cancer?  A jury in California has determined that it’s possible.  The jury awarded $289 million last Friday against Monsanto in the first of thousands of cases alleging that Monsanto should have warned users about Roundup’s cancer risk.  The plaintiff argued that Monsanto has known for decades that the Roundup product could cause cancer but failed to warn consumers, while Monsanto claimed that more than 800 studies and reviews conclude that glyphosate itself does not cause cancer.   Monsanto plans to appeal the award.

Pursuing a Bill of Rights for Lake Erie.  The Toledoans for Safe Water submitted over 10,500 signatures last week on a petition proposing to amend the city’s charter to establish a bill of rights for Lake Erie.  The proposed bill of rights would state that Lake Erie and its watershed possesses a right to exist, flourish and naturally evolve; that the people of Toledo have a right to a clean and healthy Lake Erie, a collective and individual right to self-government in their local community and a right to a system of government that protects their rights; and that any corporation or government that violates the rights of Lake Erie could be prosecuted by the city and held legally liable for fines and all harm caused.  The effort is backed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.  If successful, the initiative would appear on the November ballot for Toledo residents.

EPA ordered to ban the sale of chlorpyrifos.  The U.S. Ninth Circuit  Court of Appeals late last week ordered the U.S. EPA within 60 days to cancel all registrations for chlorpyrifos, a pesticide first introduced by Dow and commonly used on crops and animals.  The court held that there was no justification for a decision by previous EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt refusing to grant a petition to ban chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that the pesticide can cause neurodevelopmental damage in children.  The court also discarded the agency’s argument that it could refuse to ban chlorpyrifos so based on a possible contradiction of evidence in the future.  Both actions, said the court, placed the agency in direct violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.  The highest uses of chlorpyrifos are on cotton and corn crops and almond and fruit trees.

Highest award in Smithfield nuisance litigation raises responses.   The third and largest jury award in a series of nuisance lawsuits in North Carolina yielded a $473.5 million award for plaintiffs claiming harm from hog farms owned by Smithfield.  The verdict will reduce to $94 million due to a state law that caps punitive damages.  Agricultural interests are claiming that the lawsuits circumvent state right to farm laws and are seeking state legislative responses.  Opponents are also hoping to reverse a gag order issued by the court to impose communication restrictions on potential witnesses, parties and lawyers in the cases.   The federal judge in the case, Hon. Earl Britt from the Eastern District of North Carolina, is stepping down due to health issues.  Hon. David Faber of the Southern District of West Virginia will replace Judge Britt and will soon hear a fourth trial that targets a 7,100 head hog farm in Sampson County, North Carolina.

It’s official: no reporting of air emissions from animal waste.   The U.S. EPA has posted a final rule clarifying that air emissions from animal waste at farms are exempt from federal regulations that require the reporting of air releases from hazardous wastes.  The rule implements an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and revisions in the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act enacted by Congress earlier this year.  We reported on the court case and legislation earlier this year.

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