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Peggy Kirk Hall, Asst. Professor, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program
Spring brings an increase in agricultural land use activity and with it comes a surge of inquiries about Ohio's agricultural zoning laws. Here at OSU, we repeatedly hear a common question from agricultural landowners and local zoning officials: can zoning regulate this agricultural situation? That's a question without a short and simple answer. A review of Ohio Revised Code sections 303 and 519, which contain the "agricultural exemption" from county and township zoning authority, is the first step toward understanding whether a county or township can regulate an agricultural land use (note that different laws apply for cities and villages). Here's a summary of Ohio's agricultural zoning laws:
Agriculture is exempt from rural zoning authority in many, but not all, situations. While Ohio law grants counties and townships the authority to utilize zoning, the law limits how much authority these local governments have over agricultural land uses. Generally, a county or township may not prohibit the use of any land for agricultural purposes in any unincorporated area, with a few exceptions that are noted below. This exemption applies in any zoning district, whether residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise.
An exempt activity must be in the definition "agriculture." Ohio agricultural zoning laws apply to "agriculture," which the law defines to include: farming; ranching; algaculture; aquaculture; apiculture; horticulture; viticulture; animal husbandry, including, but not limited to, the care and raising of livestock, equine, and fur-bearing animals; poultry husbandry and the production of poultry and poultry products; dairy production; the production of field crops, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees, flowers, sod, or mushrooms; timber and pasturage. "Agriculture" also includes activities involving the processing, drying, storage, and marketing of agricultural products if those activities are conducted in conjunction with but secondary to actual production of those products.
Agricultural buildings and structures can also be exempt from zoning authority. If a building or structure is directly related to an agricultural activity on the same parcel of land, then Ohio zoning law does not allow a county or township to require a zoning certificate or prohibit the construction or use of the building. For example, local zoning cannot require a zoning permit or prevent the construction of a barn being built for housing cattle or storing farm machinery that is used for farming on the same property. Also, zoning may not regulate or prohibit any building or structure that is used primarily for vinting and selling wine that is located on land where grapes are grown.
Special rules for farm markets. Ohio law also says that local zoning cannot prohibit the use of land for a farm market in any industrial, residential, commercial or agricultural zoning district if 50% or more of the market's gross income is from produce raised on farms owned or managed by the farm market operator. But where necessary to protect public health and safety, local zoning may regulate the size of the farm market building, parking area size, set back lines and access to the market. This provision is commonly known as the "farm market 50% test."
Special rules for on-farm energy production. Several energy production activities are not subject to local zoning if they occur on land qualified for CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Valuation). These activities include biodiesel, biomass energy, electric and heat energy production, as well as biologically derived methane gas production of less than five megawatts.
Some agricultural activities can be regulated by local zoning. There are a few exceptions to the agricultural exemption. Local zoning may regulate agriculture in the following situations if the parcel of land is five acres or less and is located in a platted subdivision containing 15 or more lots:
- On a lot that is one acre or smaller, zoning may prohibit or regulate all agricultural activities.
- On a lot between one and five acres, zoning may regulate set back lines, height and size of buildings used for agriculture and may prohibit or regulate dairying and animal/poultry husbandry if 35% or more of the lots in the platted subdivision are developed.
Unfortunately, a summary of the zoning statute doesn't answer all questions about agriculture and zoning. Look for our future articles for continued analysis of Ohio's agricultural zoning laws. For additional zoning information, also see our zoning library, here.
Catharine Daniels, Attorney, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program
Soon, farmer’s markets all over Ohio will be full of vendors selling a variety of products--from fresh fruits and vegetables to home baked goods. For vendors selling home baked goods, it can be tricky to understand the legal landscape at a farmer's market. What laws apply? What type of license is required? What do you need to do to be in compliance with the law?
The first step to answering these questions is to determine how your baked items are classified under state law. Ohio law has two categories of regulation that include baked goods: cottage food regulations and home bakery regulations. Knowing which category your baked goods fall under will determine which laws apply to you. The major difference between the two is whether or not the baked good is considered "potentially hazardous" for consumption if not prepared and managed properly.
A "cottage food operation" is an operation in a person’s home (i.e., in the cottage) where food items that are not potentially hazardous are produced for sale. Ohio Revised Code section 3715.01(A)(19). Ohio law provides a list of baked goods that are cottage foods because they are not potentially hazardous: cookies, breads, brownies, fruit pies, cakes, unfilled baked donuts, granola and pizelles. (There are other types of food products included as cottage foods, but we will discuss those further in future posts.) Because these cottage foods do not pose high food safety risks, they are not highly regulated. A few important questions illustrate Ohio's cottage food laws:
- If I want to produce and sell a cottage food, do I need a license from ODA?
No; the Ohio Department of Agriculture does not require a license if you plan to sell non-potentially hazardous "cottage foods" such as cakes, brownies, breads, fruit pies and cookies. No additional license is needed from the local health department where the farmer’s market is located.
- Will my home kitchen where I produce the cottage food need to be inspected?
No inspection is required for a home kitchen producing "cottage foods."
- What do I need to do to sell my cottage food at a registered farmer’s market?
You must properly label the baked good (see specific labeling requirements here). The label must contain the statement: “This Product is Home Produced.” This alerts potential buyers that the food was produced in a private home that is not subject to inspection.
- Can I sell my cottage food at any farmer’s market?
Under the Ohio cottage food law, you may only sell cottage foods within the state of Ohio. Home Bakeries If you plan to produce "potentially hazardous" baked goods, then you must abide by Ohio's regulations for "home bakeries." The food safety risks posed by potentially hazardous foods lead to a higher level of regulation over Ohio's home bakeries.
- What foods are "potentially hazardous" foods?
Potentially hazardous foods are those that are in a form capable of supporting rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms--these are food products that require temperature control because they create risks for sickness if not prepared and handled property. Examples of potentially hazardous baked goods are cheesecakes, custard pies, filled donuts and cream pies – think of baked goods that typically need to be refrigerated.
- Do I need a license to operate a "home bakery"?
Yes, you are required to obtain a license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to operate as a "home bakery." There is an annual license fee of $10. Also, a local license will be required. Contact the local health department where the farmer’s market in which you will sell is located to obtain a license from them for selling the "home bakery" goods in their market. If you are selling cheesecake for example, not only do you need a home bakery license from ODA to produce the cheesecake in your home, but you will also need a license from the local health department to sell the product at the farmer’s market.
- Will my "home bakery" need to be inspected?
Yes. You will be subject to inspections by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. A few requirements a home bakery kitchen must meet include: being in good repair, being clean and easily cleanable, having no carpeted floors, being pest free, having no pets in the home, and having a mechanical refrigerator equipped with a thermometer.
- What foods may I produce in my "home bakery"?
In addition to being able to produce the potentially hazardous baked goods such as cheesecakes, custard pies and cream pies , you may also produce those baked goods that fall under the "cottage foods" definition--cakes, cookies, brownies, etc.
- What do I need to do to sell goods from my "home bakery" at a registered farmer’s market?
Just as with cottage foods, you must properly label all baked goods from a "home bakery" (see specific labeling requirements here).
- Can I sell my "home bakery" goods at any farmer’s market?
Maybe. Unlike cottage food products, a baked good produced under a home bakery license may be sold and distributed outside of Ohio. You may be able to sell your baked good at a farmer’s market outside of Ohio, but it is highly likely there would be additional requirements, such as obtaining a license from the local health department where the market is located.
The importance of good management practices
To make sure you're in compliance with the law, it is best to check with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and your local health department when you are unsure about how your baked good is classified. It is also a good idea to check with the farmer’s market where you wish to sell your baked good for any additional rules or regulations they may impose for the venue. Also keep in mind the importance of using good production practices when creating your baked goods--a home bakery inspection helps ensure this. But if you're not required to be inspected and licensed, utilize all information available to you to institute good management practices that will yield a safe food product.
For additional information on cottage food and home bakery regulation, visit the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety.
Court rules that farmer's replanting of Roundup Ready beans violates federal patent law
Peggy Kirk Hall, Asst. Professor, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program
The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that a farmer's replanting of harvested Roundup Ready© soybeans violates Monsanto Company's patent rights. The ruling leaves in place a former court award of $84,456 against farmer Vernon Bowman for planting and harvesting the soybeans, which he had purchased as commodity beans from a local grain elevator or saved from his prior harvests.
Relying on the theory of "patent exhaustion," Bowman argued that Monsanto's patent rights exhausted after the first sale of the seed and did not apply to later uses or sales. This exception to patent protection allows a purchaser of a patented good to resell the "used" good without violating patent rights. The Court unanimously disagreed that patent exhaustion was applicable in Bowman's case, explaining that the patent exhaustion theory applies to later uses of a good but not to the creation of new and additional goods from a patented good. While Bowman could sell harvested Roundup Ready beans or use them as feed, he could not plant those beans, produce new beans and sell the new beans without violating Monsanto's patent rights. "That is how "to ‘make’ a new product," said the Court, or to "reproduce Monsanto’s patented invention" without compensation to Monsanto. "A patentee retains an undiminished right to prohibit others from making the thing his patent protects," said the Court.
Bowman tried to distinguish the application of patent exhaustion to his case based on the "self-replicating" nature of seed, arguing that the seed, rather than Bowman, controlled the seed's actual reproduction. Monsanto should not be allowed to interfere with natural reproduction, claimed Bowman. The Court again disagreed, rejecting what it referred to as Bowman's "blame the bean" and "seeds are special" arguments and pointing out that Bowman played an active role in the seed reproduction process. But the Court carefully noted that its ruling does not automatically apply to every self-replicating product, as there could be situations where a self-replication might occur outside a purchaser’s control or be a necessary but incidental step in using the item for another purpose.
Many expected the Court to rule in favor of Monsanto based solely on the argument that ruling otherwise would negate the incentive for innovation that Congress intended upon passing the federal Patent Act. The Court was mindful of this argument when clarifying the parameters of the patent exhaustion doctrine, referring several times to the importance of not depriving Monsanto of its monopoly and the rewards of innovation.
What does the case mean for farmers? The Monsanto ruling is not a big surprise but it does send a strong message to farmers, some of whom have likely grumbled over seed patents and limitations on the age-old practice of saving seed. With the Supreme Court's decision, it's clear that the current legal system simply won't tolerate replantings of patented seeds. Instead, the law will support continued efforts by patent holders to monitor what farmers do with patented seed. Replanting of patented seed, whether intentional or accidental, is more than ever a high risk activity.
Read the Supreme Court's decision in Bowman v. Monsanto Co. here.
Tags: Monsanto patent case; Bowman v Monsanto; Monsanto Roundup Ready patent
Catharine Daniels, Attorney, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program
As the temperatures start to climb, many producers are gearing up for planting season. If you are a farmer who grows, harvests, packs, or holds fruits and vegetables intended for human consumption, you should be aware of the proposed produce safety standards that were released by FDA on January 16, 2013, as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The proposed rule could impact your business later this year. The comment period has been extended: originally all comments were due by May 16, 2013, but now with the extension, you have until September 16, 2013 to submit comments. So if you have not had a chance to review and comment on the proposed rule, there is still time.
What does the proposed produce safety rule do? The focus of the proposed rule is foodborne illness prevention. The goal is to now focus on preventing a foodborne illness outbreak rather than reacting to one. Foodborne illness outbreaks are a major concern and produce is often associated with such outbreaks. As a producer, you are responsible for ensuring your product is safe. If you fail to do so, you could face liability.
The proposed rule establishes “science-based standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce on domestic and foreign farms.” To address foodborne illness prevention, the proposed rule identifies seven routes of microbial contamination where prevention is key and sets standards for each:
- Agricultural Water – The rule proposes requiring all agricultural water to be safe and of adequate sanitary quality for its intended use and to be inspected at the beginning of the growing season to identify conditions that are reasonably likely to introduce pathogens. An alternative to the water requirements may be permitted if the alternative is scientifically established to provide the same amount of protection as the proposed requirement.
- Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin – Types of treatment, methods of application, and time intervals between the application of a biological soil amendment of animal origin and crop harvest are three proposed measures to reduce risk. An alternative to these requirements is also permitted as long as the alternative is scientifically established to provide the same amount of protection as the proposed requirement.
- Health and Hygiene – The rule proposes farm personnel be required to use hygienic practices, including hand washing and maintaining adequate personal cleanliness.
- Domesticated and Wild Animals – For domesticated animals, the rule proposes waiting an adequate period between grazing of the animals and harvesting produce from that growing area. If working animals are being used where produce has been planted, the rule requires farms to take measures to prevent pathogens from being introduced onto the produce. For wild animals, the rule requires farms to monitor for significant wild animal intrusion immediately before harvest and as needed during the growing season.
- Equipment, Tools, and Buildings – Some of the key requirements proposed for equipment and tools includes: using equipment and tools that are of adequate design, construction, and workmanship, inspecting, maintaining, and cleaning all food-contact surfaces of equipment and tools, and storing and maintaining equipment and tools to prevent contamination. Some of the key requirements proposed for buildings includes: requiring buildings to be a suitable size, construction, and design to facilitate maintenance and sanitary operations, buildings must provide sufficient space for placement of equipment and storage of materials, and requiring the plumbing system be properly designed, installed, and maintained.
- Sprouts – Requirements include: treating seeds before sprouting, testing spent sprout irrigation water for pathogens, and monitoring the growing environment for Listeria species or Listeria monocytogenes.
- Training – Training would be required for farm personnel would handle produce or food-contact surfaces, and for supervisors.
Who is exempt from the proposed rule? The standards and requirements of the proposed rule will apply to farms that grow, harvest, pack, or hold fruits and vegetables intended for human consumption in its raw or natural state. The rule however, does exempt certain farms. Total exemptions include:
- Produce that is rarely consumed raw, such as potatoes.
- Produce that is destined for further processing, such as green beans destined for a canning operation.
- Produce intended for personal or on-farm consumption.
- Farms that sell $25,000 or less of food per year.
A farm could also be partially exempt from the rule if the farm meets two requirements:
- Food sales average less than $500,000 per year during the last 3 years.
- Sales to qualified end-users exceed sales to others during the same period.
For purposes of the second requirement, a qualified end-user is a consumer, restaurant, or retail food establishment. The consumer may be located anywhere, but the restaurant or retail food establishment must be located in the same state as the farm or not more than 275 miles away from the farm.
If your farm does qualify for a partial exemption, then you must comply with certain labeling requirements. If a label is already required on the produce, then the name and business address of the farm where the produce was grown must be included on that label. If a label is not already required, then the name and business address must be displayed at the point of purchase.
Could I lose my exemption status? Yes. FDA may withdraw an exemption if:
- There is an investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak directly linked to your farm, or
- FDA determines it is necessary to protect the public health and prevent or mitigate a foodborne illness outbreak based on conduct or conditions associated with your farm.
How soon do I have to start complying with the rule? After the final rule is published, it will become effective within 60 days. Farms would have between two and four years to comply with the rule depending on the value of food their operation sells during the previous three-year period:
- Businesses selling less than $250,000 per year would have 4 years after the effective date to comply and 6 years to comply with some of the water requirements
- Businesses selling between $250,000 and $500,000 per year would have 3 years after the effective date to comply and 5 years for some of the water requirements
- Businesses selling more than $500,00 per year would have 2 years after the effective date to comply and 4 years to comply with some of the water requirements.
The proposed rule is currently open for comments. Comments must be submitted by September 16, 2013 to be considered. For more information on the proposed rule and to submit a comment, visit: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FSMA/ucm334114.htm.
The focus of this year's program is representing Ohio's farm and agri-business clients. Two nationally respected practitioners will teach for the Symposium. Allen Olson from Albany, Georgia, who has farm clients throughout the southern states, will provide guidance on representing farmers in crop insurance disputes and will also share his outlook on federal farm bill policies. Cari Rincker of Rincker Law Office in New York, NY, whose client base is spread around the country, will speak on protecting the farm client’s business by managing contracts, intellectual property and employment concerns.
The program will also include Ohio legal experts on labor, trucking, food safety and estate and business planning. Leah Curtis from Ohio Farm Bureau and Roxi Liming with Adams, Liming & Hockenberry, LLC in Columbus will use a case study approach to discuss advising farm clients on trucking and labor regulations. Russell Cunningham and Jeff Easterday of Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham & Eselgroth, LLP will present on estate and business planning for farm clients, and advising clients on recent food safety regulations will be presented by our own OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program. An update from the Ohio Department of Agriculture will feature Deputy Director John Schlichter.
New this year are changes to the location and timing of the Symposium. The conference will be held at Cherry Valley Lodge near Newark, Ohio, and will begin on Sunday evening with a bonus 2.5 hour CLE session on Ethics, Professional Responsibility, and Substance Abuse. Ethics and substance abuse topics will be delivered via video replay and speakers Allen Olson and Cari Rincker will cover the professionalism component with strategies for developing and retaining farm and agri-business clients. The Sunday session will conclude with a social reception. Also new this year, the Ohio State Bar Association Agricultural Law Committee will meet on Monday morning.
Law students interested in attending the Symposium may apply for student scholarships provided by the Paul L. Wright Chair in Agricultural Law Endowment Fund at Ohio State. Contact Peggy Hall at farmoffice.osu.edu for scholarship information.
To register for the Symposium, visit the Ohio State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education website at www.ohiobar.org. View the complete Symposium brochure on the OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law website.