New South Wales Considers Right-to-Farm Law and Enhanced Trespass Penalties

Rural scene in New South Wales Australia. Image by Indigo Skies Photography.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.  Note: this post is based on the First Print of the bill and not subsequent prints.

            The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has recently seen a bill introduced in Parliament that would create an American-style right-to-farm law. This law, if enacted, would create a nuisance defense to NSW farms qualifying under the law. At the same time, the bill would increase the penalties for trespass that results in released livestock. Trespass penalties increase to a possible three-year jail term for trespassers. The debate in this legislation is ongoing, and we will have to wait to see if this legislation passes.

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Baltimore City Food Truck Ordinance is Constitutional

Image of food truck. Image by Peter Burnham

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

            Over the past few years, a revolution in the food service industry has developed with the increased popularity of food trucks.  Although many may love to get their daily lunch from food trucks, these vehicles have raised some concerns among many brick-and-mortar restaurant owners.  Baltimore City imposed restrictions on food trucks, limiting them from operating within 300 feet of any retail business establishment primarily engaged in selling the same type of food product, other merchandise, or services (Art. 15 § 17-33).  Food truck operators challenged this law in circuit court, and the ordinance was found unconstitutional for vagueness issues.  The City appealed, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals recently ruled that the ordinance is not illegal, reversing the circuit court.  The Maryland Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case on appeal, possibly putting an end to litigation involving the ordinance.

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In Need of Attorney? New Resource to Assist Available

Caroline County Courthouse in Denton Maryland. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

A new publication from the University of Maryland can assist Marylanders in searching for and questions to use when interviewing an attorney. Finding An Attorney for Your Case Requires Asking the Right Questions provides a starting point for those feeling overwhelmed in searching for an attorney.

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Frequently Updated Questions: Hey, Paul Does Growing Hemp Qualify for the Right-to-Farm Defense?

Industrial hemp being grown in Pennsylvania (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

The article is not a substitute for legal advice..

          The 2018 Farm Bill allows for more growers to grow industrial hemp. A farmer looking to add industrial hemp on fields creates the possibility of conflicts between neighboring landowners. The neighbors may not understand that industrial hemp is now legal to grow or other concerns. Industrial hemp is now a legal commodity and growers would potentially fall under Maryland’s right-to-farm (RTF) law. Industrial hemp growers would be eligible for the nuisance defense in the RTF law.

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“Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019” Raises the Aggregated Debt Limit For Chapter 12 Bankruptcies

Combine harvesting soybeans. Image is by United Soybean Board.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

            Congress has recently passed and the President has signed the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019.  This change in the law will raise the aggregated debt limit with Chapter 12 bankruptcies for family farms to $10 million up from the $4,411,400.  This increase in the aggregated debt limits will allow for more family farmers to qualify for the Chapter 12 bankruptcy option.  

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Updated: Where Are My Syngenta Settlement Payments: Why Have Checks Not Been Issued Yet?

Harvesting corn in Maryland with combine dumping grain into truck. Image by the Chesapeake Bay Program.

            A number of you have asked when potential Syngenta settlement checks would be released to growers.  In late 2018, the settlement order was approved for the $1.51 billion MIR162 Syngenta settlement.  Based on the final order, payments to producers should have started going out in the second quarter of 2019.  At this time that has not happened, but recently the Settlement website has been updated to reflect to show that class members can expect to see class determinations will go out in July 2019 that will show their compensable recovery quantity.  Other producers who did not supply enough information, should have gotten notices of rejection in June 2019.  Payment timing is expected to be at the earliest February 2020.

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Webinar to Address Issues Associated With Hiring and Training New Employees on the Farm

Dairy of Distinction 2013 Kennedyville MD

        Agricultural operations may not always take the time to do simple background checks or provide employees with the proper initial training that can cause huge issues down the road.  Recent news has highlighted what can go wrong when agricultural operations hire employees with limited knowledge of agricultural practices. The University of Maryland will host a webinar focused on proper hiring and training techniques for agricultural operations on July 12 starting at noon (EST).

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Maryland Court of Special Appeals Overturns Lower Court, Finding Pesticide Ordinance Is Not Preempted by State Law

Sprayer in field. Image by United Soybean Board

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

            In 2015, the Montgomery County Council passed a bill prohibiting the use of certain pesticides on private and county-owned properties.  The law limited the use of pesticides registered with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), allowing pesticides listed by the county for non-essential cosmetic purposes, and exempting agricultural applications.  In 2017, the Montgomery County circuit court found that Maryland state law preempted the ordinance; click here to see my overview of this ruling.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently issued an opinion overruling the circuit court.  The Court of Special Appeals found that federal and state laws in Montgomery County v. Complete Lawn Care, Inc. do not preempt the ordinance.

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Where Are My Syngenta Settlement Payments: Why Have Checks Not Been Issued Yet?

A farmer harvests corn in Queen Anne’s County, Md. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

            A number of you have asked when potential Syngenta settlement checks would be released to growers.  In late 2018, the settlement order was approved for the $1.51 billion MIR162 Syngenta settlement.  Based on the final order, payments to producers should have started going out in the second quarter of 2019.  At this time that has not happened due to a number of unresolved appeals which could impact the final settlement.  Till these issues are resolved or we have more information, Mid-Atlantic growers should remain patient.

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2019 Brings Potential Changes to Hemp Production in Maryland

Industrial hemp being grown on University of Kentucky research farm. Image by University of Kentucky

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

            As I have discussed earlier, the 2018 Farm Bill makes significant changes to the classification of hemp and allows states to begin to develop regulations for the legal production of hemp.  The 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and allows for states and tribal governments to begin developing hemp production plans.  Hemp produced under these plans will potentially be eligible for the federal crop insurance program.  The Maryland General Assembly during the previous session passed legislation allowing the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to develop a hemp production plan for the state.  MDA will be able to create this hemp production plan once USDA releases the guidelines for the state programs.

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