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News Roundup: December 18th Edition

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

By Mayhah Suri

In honor of the Star Wars premiere and new FAA drone rules, here is a clone on a drone. Made by Adam Woodworth, photograph by Stephen Warrener

FAA Announces UAVs Registration Process

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that any unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) commonly referred to as drones over half a pound must be registered with the agency. Any UAV owned before Dec. 21, 2015 must be registered with the FAA by Feb. 16, 2016. UAVs owned after Dec. 21, 2015 will need to be registered before the first flight. Owners can begin registering their drones online starting Dec. 21. To learn more about the registration process see this article on Popular Science

Agri-Tourism Regulatory Challenges Debated at 2015 MACo Winter Conference

A mix of agriculture, state, and county speakers discussed the health and environmental regulatory challenges posed by agri-tourism businesses on December 10 at the 2015 MACo December Winter Conference. The title of the session was “Old MacDonald Had a Farm (and a Winery…and a Creamery…and a Gift Shop) – Regulating Agro-Tourism Businesses.” Lisa Staley, the Chief of the Center for Facility and Process Review in the Office of Food Protection at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provided an overview of some of the State’s regulatory requirements. She noted that agri-tourism activities can be subject to both state and local regulations. Common challenges for agri-tourism businesses involve permitting, zoning, water and sewer, and health regulations. To read the full article click here:

Idaho Appeals Federal Court Decision Overturning States’s Ag-Gag Law

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco to review a lower federal court’s opinion that the Gem State’s new “ag-gag” law is unconstitutional. Wasden filed a notice of appeal with the Ninth Circuit over the ruling in August by U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill invalidating the 2014 Idaho law that makes it illegal for animal activists to take undercover videos of alleged animal abuse. Read the full story and more here

Spending Bill Includes $104-Million Increase for FSMA, COOL Repeal

Late Tuesday night, the House of Representatives released a $1.1-trillion spending bill to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30, 2016. Lobbyists for full funding of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) were pleased with the numbers. The Food and Drug Administration will receive a total of $2.72 billion in discretionary funding in the bill. Within this total, food safety activities are increased by $104.5 million. Read the full story at

USDA Removes Farm Program Payments to Managers Not Actively Engaged in Farming

On December 15th, 2015, US Department of Agriculture finalized a proposed rule to ensure that farm safety-net payments are only given to active farm managers. The action excludes family farm operations, as mandated by Congress, but closes a loophole where individuals who were not actively part of farm management still received payments. The changes go into effect for the 2016 crop year for most farms. Farms that have already planted fall crops for 2016 have until the 2017 crop year to comply. For more information, visit Check out Paul’s take on what this rule actually means for you:

Maryland Nutrient Trading Symposium-January 8th

The Symposium is sponsored by the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Agriculture in collaboration with the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Maryland Grain Producers. The Symposium will address the basic concepts of trading and the role of trading in Bay restoration efforts, including accelerating nutrient and sediment reductions, lowering the high costs of reaching and maintaining loading caps, providing the funding for conservation practices, and generating supplemental farm income and other financial benefits. For more information go here:

Baltimore County Estate Planning Workshop – Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Having an up-to-date succession and estate plan is an important part of any farm operation. The workshop will cover the features of the formation of a succession and estate plan, tax considerations and what you need to consider before developing the plan starting with family communications. The workshop will include strategies for including non-farming beneficiaries into the family succession and estate plan. The workshop will be co-sponsored by Maryland Crop Insurance Education Program and the Agriculture Law Education Initiative. See more at: or contact Ashley Newhall at

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