DOAG: 2019 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP



June 12, 2019

2019 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP

Nathan M. Wilson, Office of the Commissioner

 

With the adjournment of the 2019 legislative session, the following is a roundup of proposals that the department worked on to support and enhance agriculture in our state.  There were many proposals that were debated and passed into law, these are a few that the department engaged in over the course of the session.

 

Hemp Pilot Program, Public Act 19-3

The Department and stakeholders worked tirelessly together to design and implement a hemp program for hemp growers and processors in Connecticut that could be enacted and open for the growing season.

 

The bill was signed by Governor Lamont on May 9, 2019. After the Governor signed it, DoAg had its hemp program up and running so interested parties to apply for a grower and processor license as soon as possible. This legislation required DoAg to establish and operate a hemp research pilot program under the 2014 Farm Bill. The legislation also requires DoAg to prepare a hemp state plan in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill. Once approved, the DoAg must submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) secretary for approval.

 

The legislation also removes hemp from the controlled substance list, and specifies that, 1. Marijuana does not include hemp or hemp products; and 2. THC that is in hemp but does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry weight is not a controlled substance.

 

Honey & Maple Syrup, Public Act 19-18
The bill exempts all in-state maple syrup and honey production, including its preparation, packaging, labeling, and sale, from regulation under the state’s Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and cottage food law. It also exempts producers from the requirement to obtain a DCP food manufacturing license. The legislation allows maple syrup and honey producers to be licensed, inspected, and enforced by DoAg. It requires the commissioner to adopt regulations for overseeing maple syrup and honey production. Existing law already exempts maple syrup prepared and sold on residential farms from the state FDCA.

 

Community Investment Act – Dairy Agricultural Sustainability, House Bill 7424

The state budget which was passed out of the House and Senate increased the CIA’s Ag Sustainability account by $1.5 million for each fiscal year in 2020 and 2021, in addition to the previously allocated $1 million per fiscal year for a total investment of $2.5 million per fiscal year above the CIA generated funding levels. 

 

Green Economy – Anaerobic Digesters, HB 5002

This bill creates a pathway for on farm anaerobic digesters to be sited.  The legislation exempts certain anaerobic digestion facilities at animal feeding operations from DEEP permit requirements to construct and operate a solid waste facility. It allows the DEEP commissioner to procure up to 10 megawatts of energy and requires PURA to establish interconnection standards for biogas which is generated from farms. The liquid material end product must be used as fertilizer and any solid material end products must be used for animal bedding, soil or soil amendment, fertilizer, or other value-added products. The legislation passed the House and Senate, and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

 

Dog Quarantines, Rabies and Disposals – House Bill 7297
This legislation was recommended by DoAg’s Domestic Animal Control Working Group. The legislation shortens the mandatory quarantine period for an animal that has bitten or attacked a person from 14 days to 10 days. It requires an examination on the 10th day of quarantine, rather than the 14th day, to determine whether to continue or end the quarantine.

 

Under the legislation, a biting or attacking dog, cat, or ferret must be quarantined (1) in a public pound, veterinary hospital, or commercial kennel approved by the state veterinarian or (2) on the premises of the animal’s owner or keeper if the animal has a current rabies vaccination. However, if the animal does not have a current rabies vaccination, then it will be quarantined in a public pound, veterinary hospital,  commercial kennel approved by the State Veterinarian, or the premises of the owner or keeper if there is a medical necessity determined by a licensed veterinarian. The legislation passed the House and Senate, and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

 

Regional Animal Shelters – Public Act 19-8

This legislation, which was signed in to law, allows towns with a population of less than 50,000 to regionalize their animal control facility. There are currently 68 towns that have their own facility, 27 facilities that are shared, and 15 towns that use a commercial kennel.  This will allow towns to save money through economies of scale and regional facilities.