Posts tagged Colleen Frei
USDA Announces 2019 Trade Aid to Farmers

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a $16 billion trade aid program for American farmers in response to the trade and tariff impacts on the agriculture industry.   This additional trade aid strategy supplements the USDA Market Facilitation Program of 2018 and aims to support American agricultural growers and producers that have been impacted by recent trade conflicts and export market challenges.

This aid package involves three parts:

  • The centerpiece involves cash payments totaling $14.5 billion through the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program to eligible agricultural growers and producers of a variety of crops, including fresh sweet cherries, fresh grapes and many row crops as well as dairy and pork producers impacted by recent tariffs

  • Purchases totaling $1.4 billion through the USDA’s Food Purchase and Distribution Program to eligible agricultural producers of surplus fresh produce (may include apple and pear growers and other tree fruit producers) and other food products (may include meat and dairy producers) impacted by tariffs. The Food Purchase and Distribution Program facilitates the supply of fresh produce and other food products to help food banks, pantries and school meal programs

  • A $100 million trade promotion program for livestock producers and certain crops to help agricultural industry sectors develop new markets. A similar program launched as part of the USDA’s 2018 trade aid program

In addition to this most recent announcement, more sweet cherry growers may be able to apply for aid under the Market Facilitation Program in 2019, thanks to changes in eligibility supported by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Dan Newhouse. Sen. Cantwell and Rep. Newhouse’s provision to expand eligibility to a wider variety of business structures, recently passed the Senate but still awaits a vote in the House.

Details regarding eligibility and payment rates of this trade aid and Market Facilitation Program of 2019 still need to be established by the USDA and are expected at a later date. JDSA Law is committed to following these developments and will keep you updated as events and details continue to unfold.

Online Retailers: Be Ready to Collect Sales Tax

In a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, States will now be able to collect sales tax from internet retailers who sell their products online.  This change appears to be a big victory for the States, and is expected to increase revenue that individual States argued they have been missing out on for decades.

Prior to this ruling, the law did not require businesses to collect sales tax on customer’s purchases if the business was shipping the purchase to a State where the business did not have a physical presence. In these situations, customers who resided in a State with sales tax were required to report and pay ‘use tax’ for their online purchase directly to their home State.  This tax reporting requirement was not widely known, and the home States seldom received the use tax.  This is all about to change as a result of this recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

What Does This Means for Businesses?

Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, States can now pass laws requiring sellers – without a physical presence in the State to which they are shipping – to collect that State’s sales tax from customers and send the collected sales taxes to that State.  What is not yet clear is whether Federal legislation will provide details on how sales tax collection will take place, or if each State will be responsible for carrying out their own specific sales tax collection program.

JDSA is also following the question of whether the ruling requires all Internet companies to collect sales tax.

Could this only apply to larger companies? 

For example, what about the smaller retailer who sells on eBay or Etsy?  Will they also face the same sales tax collection requirement?  This ruling, though favorable to State revenue, could create an undue burden on small, online retailers.  Tax planning and a full understanding of the collection process will be key to compliance.

Attorneys at JDSA Law are monitoring this developing legislation closely.  Stay close, by reading our blog for how this change could impact you.

ICE Audits Expected To Increase This Summer

As previously reported, investigations by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are expected to increase, especially throughout this summer.  They will be scrutinizing suspected, undocumented workers and the businesses that employ them. 

Time is of the essence. Review your ICE Audit & Raid Plan in the event your business receives an unexpected visit from this federal agency.  Your ICE Audit & Raid Plan should establish your protocols for responding to a workplace audit or raid.

WHAT EMPLOYERS SHOULD KNOW

  • Be aware — Understand that violations have serious consequences including monetary penalties and arrests of unauthorized workers and employers.
  • Be prepared — Plan for the possibility of receiving a Notice of Inspection (NOI) of your Forms I-9 or a workplace "raid."
  • Be ready — Ensure the identity and work authorization is verified for each employee with a Form I-9.

DON’T DELAY – PREPARE NOW

You can never anticipate if this activity will impact your business. It is important to have proactive measures in place including an ICE Audit & Raid Plan, and to keep your employees calm during such a disruptive time. 

If you need assistance or advice, contact an attorney at JDSA Law.

Technology + Agriculture = Success
By Colleen M. Frei

By Colleen M. Frei

Technology is everywhere.  For most, it's the method utilized to consume news, plan vacations, and communicate with friends and family.  But when you enjoy a glass of delicious Washington wine, or take a bite of a crisp Washington apple, do you ever stop to consider the technology needed to fulfill that experience?

Technology is increasingly important—and necessary—for how agricultural businesses evolve and thrive.  Consider these recent examples:

In an article published by Bloomberg, establishing a winery goes beyond purchasing a vineyard and simply growing grapes.  Larry Stone, a master sommelier and former Napa Valley resident, uses technology and innovation in his custom-made tanks to integrate lines that allow for both heating and cooling. Plus, his chardonnay room has a separate heating system to accommodate the colder Oregon nights.  This winery also utilizes a unique European press device that controls the intensity of the grape press in order to produce the desired result.  Technology is something this winery is proud to incorporate into its business.
Equally impressive is a new technology being used at Iowa State University (ISU) to study the effect of water on plants.  In an article published by Science Daily, scientists at ISU have developed graphene-based, sensors-on-tape that can be attached to plants to provide data to researchers and farmers about water use in crops.  This technology opens doors for scientists and farms to begin breeding plants with better water efficiency, and paves the way for further expansion of technology sensors to monitor the environment and test crops for diseases or pesticides.

These examples highlight some different ways innovation and technology is shaping the way the agriculture industry is doing business.  As always, the attorneys at JDSA Law strive to remain current with the latest news and technology, and assist our clients in this dynamic and exciting agricultural landscape. 

Stay current with us, about the changes that may impact you. Check out our podcast and blog for more news and legal topics.