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Quarterly Update – December 2018

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December 2018 Update

ALEI Engages the Ag and Environmental Community at Annual Conference 

By: Jess Feldman and Kimberly Johnson 

The Agriculture Law Education Initiative’s (ALEI) fourth annual Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference on Nov. 8 provided regulators, students, educators, attorneys, environmentalists, farmers, and others the opportunity to learn from experts about current agricultural and environmental legal issues affecting the region. With 116 in attendance in Annapolis, Maryland, panelists at the conference discussed a range of current legal issues facing the Maryland agriculture community and environmentalists alike.

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The first panel featured a discussion of the state’s Shellfish Aquaculture Leasing Program. Karl Roscher from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Senior Extension Agent Don Webster discussed the successes and current challenges within the program as well as available support programs for applicants. JD Blackwell, a local oyster farmer, and business owner discussed challenges experienced by growers, such as the current prohibition on leasing areas with submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Blackwell said an increase in SAV is one positive environmental by-product of submerged water columns. Under current regulations, the SAV that develops as a result of aquaculture leases can result in a reduction in the leased area that can be used.

Extension Legal Specialist Paul Goeringer and attorney John Dillard discussed current legal issues impacting Maryland farmers including laws regarding U.S. waterways, dicamba pesticide use, hazardous waste emissions, and reporting laws for livestock operations.

Keynote speaker Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, a lifelong Charles County resident and farmer, emphasized the importance of trust and compromise in building policy and avoiding partisanship in Maryland politics.

The event concluded with a discussion of forthcoming regulations by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) regarding the growth of industrial hemp. Vote Hemp’s Eric Steenstra discussed commercial use of hemp products and the possible inclusion of language to further legalize hemp farming in the 2018 Farm Bill. MDA’s Kevin Conroy discussed the emerging regulations and circumstances under which a farmer could legally grow hemp. Andrew Ristvey from the University of Maryland emphasized that any future hemp research by the university would be to determine the profitability of the plan for Maryland farmers.

Other panels included:

Phase III of the Watershed Implementation Plan for Bay Restoration – What Does It Mean for Farmers?: Sarah Everhart, Managing Director, ALEI, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Dr. Suzanne Dorsey, Executive Director, Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc.; Jason Keppler, Program Manager, Watershed Implementation Plan, MDA

Chlorpyrifos and the Legal Landscape of Pesticide Regulation – Joshua Segal, Special Assistant to Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Maryland; Lindsay Thompson, Executive Director, Maryland Grain Producers Association; David Myers, Principal Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

To access materials from the 2018 Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference visit: http://umaglaw.org/2018-agricultural-and-environmental-law-conference/#materials

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ALEI Food Safety Training Program Highlights Produce Safety Rule Compliance

By: Jess Feldman 

Managing Director of the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) at the Francis King Carey School of Law Sarah Everhart assisted in presenting a training session on the Produce Safety Rule on Nov. 7 at the Eastern Shore Hospital Center in Cambridge, Maryland. Everhart presented along with experts from the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), University of Maryland Extension, and University of Delaware.

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The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, created an entirely new system for the prevention of foodborne illness. While FSMA has implemented many rules, the Produce Safety Rule impacts Maryland’s farming community the most.

The Produce Safety Rule establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables for human consumption. The law has various compliance dates which, depending on the size of the operation, must be understood and followed by any farmer who grows produce typically consumed raw. The law requires at least one person from each farming operation to attend a Produce Safety Rule training.

Attendees gained knowledge of how foodborne illnesses are spread and what steps to take to prevent such an outbreak. The Produce Safety Rule also requires farmers to understand and document compliance in the areas of agricultural water, biological soil amendments, domesticated and wild animals, worker training, health and hygiene, and equipment, tools, and buildings.

For additional resources on food safety and compliance with the law, please visit ALEI’s Food Safety Webpage, as well as ALEI’s educational videos listed under Food Safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Information of MDA’s upcoming FSMA trainings and resources can be accessed through this link.

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New Farmers the Focus of ALEI at UMES Small Farms Conference 

By: Kimberly Johnson

ALEI Legal Specialist Nicole Cook discussed Business and Legal Considerations for New and Beginning Farmers at the annual UMES Small Farms Conference on Saturday, Nov 3. Cook’s presentation covered multiple legal issues facing new and beginning farmers including choosing a business entity structure, liability insurance, lending agreements, and food safety regulations.

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Cook’s presentation covered multiple legal issues facing new and beginning farmers including choosing a business entity structure, liability insurance, lending agreements, and food safety regulations. USDA statistics suggest nearly half of all American farmers will retire in the next two decades, highlighting the importance of efforts to support new and beginning farmers in establishing successful and sustainable business operations. According to Cook, “In 2018, there are many issues a farmer needs to be aware of to be able to maintain a successful business. The topics we covered are very important for new and beginning farmers to be aware of, ideally before they open their business.”

The UMES Small Farms Conference has a beginning farmer tract as a way to provide targeted support to this community. Cook discussed how liability insurance and business entity structure can work together to provide protection for beginning farmers and their personal assets. “Much of what we do at ALEI is to help farmers identify areas of legal risk, and provide strategies to protect themselves,” Cook said.

Many in attendance had not yet started their farming business. “It’s great to see that people are thinking ahead and that they are aware of important concepts. We are seeing people engaging in pre-planning, which sets them up for success,” said Cook.

For additional resources for New and Beginning farmers visit the University of Maryland Extension Beginning Farmer Success Program.  

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ALEI Advisory Panel Meeting Reviews 2018 Progress, Establishes Priorities for 2019

By: Jess Feldman

The Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) Advisory Panel, a body of farmers, public officials, and representatives from agricultural and natural resource organizations, gathered at the Fisherman’s Inn Restaurant in Grasonville, Maryland on Oct. 31 to review ALEI’s direction and progress.

Assistant Director and Agriculture Program Leader for the University of Maryland Extension (UME) Darren Jarboe opened the meeting with a special welcome to ALEI’s newest advisory panel member, Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Julie Oberg.

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In 2017, the panel suggested that ALEI focus on legal issues related to the aquaculture industry and nutrient trading, and shared suggestions on ways to promote information to farmers more effectively. At this year’s meeting, Extension Legal Specialist Nicole Cook led a presentation on the changes and programming that ALEI has implemented based on those recommendations.

ALEI has been active over this past year within the Aquaculture Coordinating Council of the Department of Natural Resources and has partnered with the UME to develop more programming for the Maryland aquaculture community. The faculty also worked together to create a one-page handout of all available ALEI publications, a PowerPoint presentation for UME educators to use, and a more accessible Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) directory for the ALEI website.

The working group also shared updates and highlights from the ALEI’s recent annual funding report. Most notably, the Initiative raised over $215,000 in funds from grants and partnerships, enabling the faculty to deliver more outreach programs in FY 2018 across the state than ever before. Further, Extension Legal Specialist Paul Goeringer discussed the upcoming, grant-funded Farm Succession and Estate Planning workshops which the Department of Agricultural Resources and Economics (AREC) is hosting in partnership with ALEI and other entities.

ALEI Managing Director at the Francis King Carey School of Law Sarah Everhart shared evaluation data on the grant-funded series of On-Farm Food Safety and Recall Readiness workshops she initiated last January. The data showed that after six months, 100 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had improved the food safety on their farm operations after attending a program.

For Jurgen Schwarz, Chair of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Science and ALEI Leadership Committee member, this meeting was a great success.
“One thing this meeting highlighted is how seamless the collaboration is between the three institutions,” Schwartz said. “The advisory panel is essential to ALEI. They help to tell us if we’re on the right track, point out issues we should pay attention to, and also act as spokesperson of our program to their audience in the agriculture community.”

The meeting concluded with an open discussion on ways ALEI can better reach Maryland’s rural communities, as well as important issues the Initiative should focus on for the upcoming year. Suggestions included changing dynamics with pesticide drift, regulations regarding temporary agricultural employment of foreign workers (H-2A), noise/nuisance complaints, right to farm issues, zoning, solar leases, and DNR lease compliance.

The ALEI team has already begun to implement some of the suggestions made at the meeting and will continue to improve its programs and educational sessions.

 For more information on the ALEI Advisory Panel and its members, click here

 

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Quarterly Update Archive

 

Agriculture Law Education Initiative June 2018 Quarterly Update 

Agriculture Law Education Initiative March 2018 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative December 2017 Quarterly Update 

Agriculture Law Education Initiative September 2017 Quarterly Update 

Agriculture Law Education Initiative June 2017 Quarterly Update 

Agriculture Law Education Initiative March 2017 Quarterly Update 

Agriculture Law Education Initiative December 2016 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative September 2016 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative June 2016 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative March 2016 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative November 2015 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative July 2015 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative June 2014 Quarterly Update

Agriculture Law Education Initiative March 2014 Quarterly Update