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.
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
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.
In 2019, we
continue to see decisions involving the application of the right-to-farm law
(RTF) defense in a few states. Recently,
the Court of Appeals of Indiana upheld a trial court’s decision applying the
state’s RTF law. In this case, the RTF
law applied to claims that a neighboring hog farm was creating a nuisance. Although over the past 18 months, we have
seen decisions involving RTF laws not applying to agricultural companies being
hit with large damage verdicts, it is crucial to remember that in many cases,
the RTF defense continues to apply and prevent large verdicts.
paying attention to the implementation of the new Farm Bill, looking at how
changes to existing and new programs will operate. One issue that may come up after passing the
2018 Farm Bill is how quickly USDA must implement program changes or new
programs. In Ausmus v. Perdue, a group of Colorado wheat farmers recently had a
lower court decision upheld. The farmers
had requested a new crop insurance product authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill before
USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) implemented a product for wheat. The lower court ruled and the court of
appeals agreed that although it might conflict with the agency’s other duties under
federal law, RMA had to allow producers to use the program after the effective
date of the 2014 Farm Bill and not when RMA implemented the regulations.
I recently contributed an article to MarylandBar Bulletin on changes to hemp restrictions in the 2018 Farm Bill and what needs to happen before farmers can grow the crop legally. The Maryland Bar Bulletin recently published the article online.
I recently contributed an article to American Agriculturalist magazine on changes to hemp restrictions in the 2018 Farm Bill and what needs to happen before farmers can grow the crop legally. American Agriculturalist recently published the article online.
In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly first passed legislation allowing for the development of an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in the state. That program was recently updated in 2018 by House Bill (HB) 698 to allow farmers contracting with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) or Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) in Maryland to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. Production of hemp under the program must further either agricultural or academic research. HB 698 became effective on July 1, 2018, MDA has recently issued final regulations to implement this pilot program effective on January 28, 2019, and can be found here.
November, the IRS announced the revised federal estate tax and gift tax limits
for 2019. The 2019 federal estate tax
limit will increase from $11.18 million to $11.4 million. The federal gift tax limit will remain at
$15,000. In Maryland, state estate tax
limits will increase to $5 million, up from $4 million in 2018.
across the country are looking to begin producing hemp. The 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to develop
hemp research programs, but the 2018 Farm Bill significantly changes the
classification of hemp and allows states to begin developing regulations for
legal hemp production. The 2018 Farm Bill
removes hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and allows states and tribal governments
to begin developing hemp production plans.
Hemp produced under these plans will potentially be eligible for federal
crop insurance. Although the 2018 Farm
Bill has made changes to hemp, it is still currently not legal to grow hemp in
Maryland until the state develops and has an approved hemp production plan in