A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.


ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us Wednesday, April 18th at 12 noon (ET) for a FREE webinar: Examining the Landscape of Agricultural Certainty Programs in the United States. Details available here.


JUDICIAL: Includes urb & ag, bankruptcy, and aquaculture issues. 

ERIK J. HANSEN et al., Plaintiffs, Cross-defendants and Respondents, v. SANDRIDGE PARTNERS, L.P. et al., Defendants, Cross-complainants and Appellants, F073106, 2018 WL 1663760 (Cal. Ct. App. April 6, 2018) involved an easement dispute wherein plaintiff planted pistachio trees and installed an irrigation system on land owned by defendant. Lower court awarded plaintiff an easement of “equitable interest … of limited scope and duration,” despite a dispute regarding the parcel’s lot lines. Appellate court observed that per an equitable easement, a trespasser’s encroachment “’must not be willful or negligent,’” and considered whether plaintiffs’ planting of trees on the land constituted negligent encroachment. Court concluded that “[w]hile growers do not have a general duty to survey or otherwise confirm boundaries before planting, it is negligent to plant permanent crops on a swath of land, knowing that some unspecified part of that land is in need of a “lot line adjustment.” Reversed for defendants.

In IN RE: Tony Dian PERKINS, Debtor, Nos. 17–8001/8008, 581 B.R. 822 (Bankr. 6th Cir. March 13, 2018), debtor owned a 200-acre farm in partnership with her parents and eventually could not pay off her debts. Creditor objected to lower court’s confirmation of debtor’s Chapter 12 plan, arguing that debtor was not “family farmer” per Chapter 12 relief and that her “aggregate debt exceeded Chapter 12 eligibility limits.” Appellate court considered whether debtor’s schedules were prepared in good faith and looked at definition of term “aggregate debts.” Court determined “’aggregate debts’ . . . should be understood as simply the aggregate of debtor’s farm and non-farm debts,” and noted income from debtor’s farm partnerships with her son and subchapter S corporation “could be added to farm income that debtor earned from farm that she and husband owned to determine what percentage of debtor’s income was earned from ‘farming operation.’” Appellate court affirmed, finding debtor’s bankruptcy schedules were filed in good faith.

In ROBERT RIDDLE, d/b/a FAIRBANKS PUMPING AND THAWING, Appellant, v. ERIC LANSER, Appellee, 2018 WL 1661600, Supreme Court No. S-15780 (Alaska April 6, 2018), appellant ran a business pumping privately-owned septic tanks and dumped collected septage into lagoons on his farm property. Appellant started his business in 2005 and an adjacent landowner acquired his land in 2007 for development and sued for nuisance and negligence due to smells emanating from appellant’s property. Lower court agreed with appellee and issue on appeal was whether the odors created a nuisance. Appellant sought protection under the right to farm act (RTFA), arguing he intended to use the waste for fertilizing his farm and others. Appellate court agreed with lower court’s reasoning that “[i]n order to be protected [under RTFA], the septage must be intended for use in farming from the onset.” Affirmed.


REGULATORY:  Includes EPA, FS, FNS, and NOAA rules and notices.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule EPA is proposing to approve elements of two State Implementation Plan (SIP) submissions from New Hampshire which address the infrastructure and interstate transport requirements of the Clean Air Act for the 2012 fine particle National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Info here.

Rule EPA is proposing to approve the remaining portion of a November 2, 2015 State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Vermont. Info here.

Rule proposes amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) Refinery MACT 1 and Refinery MACT 2 regulations to clarify the requirements of these rules and to make technical corrections and minor revisions to requirements for work practice standards, recordkeeping and reporting. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE: Notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. This collection is a revision of a currently approved collection for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Request for Administrative Review. Info here.

FOOD AND NUTRUITION SERVICE: Notice of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) January 16, 2018 Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) (83 FR 2181). Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS prepared an analysis of a final rule to prohibit the use of hired masters for sablefish catcher vessel quota shares received by transfer after February 12, 2010. Details here.

Rule NMFS is prohibiting retention of non-Community Development Quota sablefish by vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. Details here.

Notice Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information. Title: National Saltwater Angler Registry and State Exemption Program. Info here.

Notice Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information. Title: Monitoring Programs for Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery. Info here.