DOAG: 2006 Legislative Session Summary

2006 Legislative Session Summary

 
The 2006 regular legislative session adjourned on May 3rd, 2006, The following Public and Special Acts, passed this legislative session, are pertinent to the agricultural community or to subject matter under the purview of the DOA (DOA). As of the date of this publication, no new bond monies were authorized. For the specific language for each Act you may use the Connecticut General Assembly website as a resource at http://www.cga.ct.gov or call Melanie Attwater-Young, Legislative Liaison, Department of Agriculture at (860) 713-2509.
 
Public Act 06-19 – An Act Concerning Minor Revisions to the Department of Agriculture Statutes – The Act makes minor corrections to PA 05-175. Requires that each retail raw milk producer and intra state dealer with ten or fewer milking aged animals keep records relating to drugs used on such animals and keep such records available for inspection by the Commissioner of Agriculture. It enables the Commissioner to require a producer and intrastate dealers of retail raw milk, with ten or more milking aged animals, to test for drug residue. It also adds the camel family of animals to the statutory definition of “livestock animal” under Chapter 432 “Slaughtering of Animals Commission Sales Stables” and to “livestock” under Chapter 433 “Diseases of Domestic Animals”. The Act also enables the Commissioner of Agriculture to make orders regarding the identification of livestock and changes the mandatory fine, for any person who violates any provision, order or regulation under the purview of or issued by the Commissioner, to discretionary. (Effective from passage Sections 1-7, 9; Section 8, October 1,2006)
 
Public Act 06-52 – An Act Concerning Farmers’ Markets – This law enables a farmer to sell a wider variety of Connecticut-Grown products at a certified farmers’ market. By defining the structure or area within a farmers’ market that is used by a farmer as an extension of that farmer’s on-farm business, it allows for farmer’s to market a greater number of their Connecticut Grown products to customers at Connecticut’s farmers’ markets. The law also spells out that it is the farmer’s responsibility to acquire and maintain any licenses required by state law to sell any product they may offer for sale. (Effective from passage)

Public Act 06-67 – An Act Concerning Farm Wineries – In Connecticut, a “farm winery” must use a minimum of 25% of grapes grown within the state’s borders in the manufacture its wine in order to qualify for such status. This law makes it clear that it is allowable that such fruit may be grown on property adjacent to and under the same ownership and control as the farm winery’s permitted premises without jeopardizing the farm’s “farm winery” status.  (Effective from passage)

Public Act 06-105 – An Act Concerning Exemption from Rabies Vaccination Requirements – This Act provides for a process whereby a veterinarian may apply to the DOA for an exemption from a rabies vaccine, valid for one year only, for dogs or cats under their care and whose life may be endangered by the administration of such vaccination. If approved by the DOA, the Department is required to issue a rabies exemption certificate, copies of which shall be issued to the veterinarian making such request, the  owner of the animal, and the animal control officer of the town where the animal’s owner resides. In the case of an exempted dog, a copy of the exemption certificate must be presented to the Town Clerk in lieu of a rabies vaccination certificate in order to license the dog.  The Act makes violation of any provision of the components of Section 1 of the bill an infraction. Section 2 of the Act requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to institute measures for the control of rabies in public settings such as petting zoos, riding stables, fairs, farm tours and educational exhibits. It requires the Commissioner to adopt regulations and spells out some of the possible items for consideration when adopting such regulations. (Effective October 1, 2006)

Public Act 06-116 – An Act Concerning the Interstate Shipment of Shellfish and Shellfish Relay – This law requires the DOA to allow shellfishermen to transplant or move shellfish from “restricted” or polluted shellfish grounds to other shellfish grounds on the same day a shellfisherman harvests shellfish for market. However, a shellfisherman must first land (bring to shore) all shellfish intended for market prior to beginning such a transplantation of shellfish. The shellfisherman must notify and supply required information to the Department of Environmental Protection prior to the beginning of such transplantation. After transplantation has begun, the shellfisherman may not land shellfish intended for market for the remainder of the day. Under existing law, a non-confidential numbering system is in place for tags identifying shellfish harvest lot locations from state and local shellfish beds. The law allows for but also requires that harvester initiated shellfish lot codes be kept confidential and be given to the Department of Environmental Protection and the DOA. The law also makes the Food and Drug Administration’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance the standard for the identification of shellfish shipment or delivery rather than regulations adopted by the DOA. (Effective upon passage)
 
Public Act 06-135 – An Act Concerning Implementing the Provisions of the Budget Concerning Education - Section 21 enhances the DOA’s existing Farm to School Program by establishing a counterpart arrangement with the Department of Education. The Department of Education’s Farm to School Program, in consultation with the DOA, must establish an annual “Connecticut-Grown for Connecticut Kids Week”; encourage all types of schools to purchase Connecticut-Grown products for inclusion in school meals; provide information and guidance to parent and teacher organizations and school food service directors regarding the value of and procedure for purchasing Connecticut-Grown farm products; arrange for events which will facilitate interaction between potential Connecticut-Grown product purchasers and farmers; and arrange for student field trips to farms and in-school presentation by farmers.
The Act also requires that the DOA encourage Connecticut farmers to sell their Connecticut-Grown products to schools; develop and maintain a website containing a database of currently available Connecticut-Grown products; work with farmers and the Department of Education to facilitate the use of such products in the school systems; and educate and guide farmers about the value and procedure for selling their products in the school systems. (Effective July 1, 2006)
 
Public Act 06-186 – An Act Making Adjustments to State Expenditures and Revenues for the Biennium ending June 30, 2007 -The budget adjustment to the ’05-’07 budget passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Rell makes the following additions to the DOA budget:  Adds an additional $171,364 to “Other Expenses”; removes $225,072 from Personal Services, which addresses the shift of DOA’s Business Office duties to the Department of Administrative Services; this change was made last year. The Act also removes $93,575 for the Oyster Program and adds back $47,500 to the Connecticut Wine Council. This compromise budget reduces the Department’s budget for fiscal year 2006-2007 by $99,783. (Effective July 1, 2006)
 
Public Act 06-187 – An Act Concerning General Budget and Revenue Implementation Provisions – (The “Budget Implementer bill”) – Sections 46-51 establishes a Lobster Restoration Advisory Committee to advise the Commissioner of Environmental Protection on establishing a lobster v-notch conservation program upon which the Commissioner of Agriculture has a seat. Requires, within available appropriations, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection to establish a lobster “buy-back” program and makes other provisions for the maintenance of a viable lobster industry for Connecticut. Section 65-66 makes changes to the “Connecticut-Grown” program by: 1) requiring the Commissioner of Agriculture to provide for the “design, plan and implementation of a multi-year, state-wide marketing and advertising campaign, including, but not limited to, television, and radio advertisements...”, 2) establish an website connected to this campaign, 3) promote interaction and business relationships between farmers and restaurants, grocery stores, institutional cafeterias and other like potential purchasers of Connecticut Grown farm products to be achieved linking farmers and potential buyers through the website and by organizing statewide events promoting Connecticut Grown by individual farmers and such potential customers. The Act also requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to annually report to the Environment Committee on these activities. Section 90 requires the Agricultural Experiment Station to transfer $300,000 to the Integrated Pest Management Account to the University of Connecticut for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007. These monies shall be used for the purposes of development and implementation of a nonagricultural integrated pest management program such as trees, shrub, turf and structural applications and agriculture related programs for vegetables, fruit, forage crops and nurseries. (Effective upon passage Sections 46-51; Effective July 1, 2006, Sections 65-66 and 90)
 
Public Act 06-412 - An Act Concerning the Seizure of Milk Products – This Act eliminates a mandatory hearing for milk and milk products seized by DOA as being unsafe for consumption and replaces it with an optional hearing at the request of the producer of the product in question. It adds specifically adds cheese to the list of products that the DOA may prohibit the sale or distribution of when such cheese is considered unsafe to consume. (Effective October 1, 2006)
 
Special Act 06-5 – An Act Concerning a Study of the Expansion of the Animal Population Control Program – This Special Act requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to investigate and make recommendations for legislation to the Environment Committee concerning the expansion of the animal population control program to include sterilization of domesticated cats and dogs owned or adopted by low-income individuals and the needs of nonprofit organizations that assist caretakers of cats that are not owned by anyone and are considered feral. The Commissioner must submit findings and recommendation to the Environment Committee by January 1, 2007. (Effective from passage)