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


ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us this Thursday, April 20, at 12 noon (ET) for an Agricultural & Food Law Consortium webinar: Ag Taxation & Reform 101:  What You Need to Know. Details available here.


JUDICIAL: Includes CAA, nutrition programs, CWA, labor, and environmental issues.

In State of ARIZONA, EX REL. Henry R. DARWIN, Director, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Petitioner, v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY; Scott Pruitt, Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Respondents. CalPortland Company, Petitioner, v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Respondent. Phoenix Cement Company, an enterprise division of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Petitioner, v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Respondent. ASARCO LLC, Petitioner, v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Respondent, No. 14-73368, No. 14-73384, No. 14-73386, No. 14-73394, 2017 WL 1208457 (9TH Cir. April 3, 2017), plaintiffs, including a cement kiln owner and copper smelter owner, sought review of Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) issued pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA) and to replace rejected portions of Arizona’s State Implementation Plan (SIP). Arizona’s plan listed proposals to reduce emissions and improve air visibility in federal wilderness areas located in Arizona. Plaintiffs alleged EPA’s “numerical reasonable progress goals were arbitrary and capricious.” Appellate court found plaintiffs failed to exhaust before the EPA their challenge to EPA’s FIP “as required before seeking judicial review.”

In WAYNE PATTERSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JAMES DIMAS, et al., Defendants-Appellees, No. 16-3223, 2017 WL 1359841 (7th Cir. April 13, 2017), plaintiff received food stamps for years until allegation of fraud by Illinois Department of Human Service led to termination of benefits. Illinois court upheld agency decision and plaintiff appealed, claiming he was denied due process. Lower court ruled plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff “did not establish any exception to the statute of limitations,” and appellate court affirmed, noting that “the doctrine of claim preclusion would bar the claim even if timely.”

In SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ALLIANCE OF PUBLICLY OWNED TREATMENT WORKS, Petitioner, v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY; Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator, USEPA, Region IX, Respondents, 2017 WL 1337263 (9th Cir. April 12, 2017), plaintiff sought review of an objection letter sent by the EPA regarding draft permits for water reclamation plants. Plaintiff argued appellate court has “original jurisdiction to review the objection letter . . . which applies to EPA action ‘approving or promulgating any effluent limitation,’” and also applies to EPA action “issuing or denying any permit.” EPA argued court lacked jurisdiction “to review its Objection Letter and that, so long as permitting authority rests with California state agencies, [plaintiff’s] judicial remedy lies in California courts under California’s administrative procedures.” Court agreed with EPA that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed plaintiff’s petition.

In JESUS RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff, v. RCO REFORESTING, INC. and ROBERTO OCHOA, Defendants, NO. 2:16-2523 WBS CMK, 2017 WL 1351970 (E.D. Cal. April 12, 2017), plaintiff, a Mexican national working in the U.S. on an H-2B visa, claimed defendants failed to pay him his hourly rate, required overtime, travel costs, and “required work expenses in violation of the Agricultural Worker Protection Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, California Labor Code, and California Civil Code.” Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint to add another plaintiff “subject to the same unlawful wage and employment practices he was subject to.” Court noted that “a party seeking to amend its pleading must demonstrate ‘good cause,’” and concluded that, “Because there is no indication that plaintiff lacked diligence in seeking to add Loa, and because an amendment of plaintiff’s Complaint will not prejudice defendants, the court will grant plaintiff’s Motion.”

IN RE: CHRYSLER–DODGE–JEEP ECODIESEL MARKETING, SALES PRACTICES AND PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION, MDL No. 2777, 2017 WL 1282901 (April 5, 2017) concerned litigation involving allegations that Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram 1500 vehicles “were equipped with emissions-cheating devices that engage emissions controls only when emissions testing was being performed.” Litigation consisted of 14 suits pending in 9 districts. US Judicial Panel selected Northern District of California as the transferee district for the suits, reasoning that, “California has a strong factual connection to this litigation, as the state with the most affected vehicles and pending cases.”


REGULATORY: Includes USDA, FWS, GIPSA, and NOAA rules and notices.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENTNotice USDA has submitted information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Operating Guidelines, Forms and Waivers. Details here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE:

Notice FWS announces availability of a proposed habitat conservation plan and accompanying documents for activities associated with the construction of the Suncoast Parkway 2. Details here.

Notice FWS is initiating 5-year status reviews under the Endangered Species Act for eight animal species. Info here.

GRAIN INSPECTION, PACKERS AND STOCKYARDS ADMINISTRATION:

Notice GIPSA is announcing the designation of Northeast Indiana Grain Inspection, Inc., to provide official services under the United States Grain Standards Act. Details here.

Notice GIPSA seeks comments on the quality of services provided by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Info here.

Notice GIPSA seeks comments on the quality of services provided by the Montana Department of Agriculture. Details here.

Notice GIPSA seeks comments on the quality of services provided by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Info here.

Notice GIPSA seeks comments on the quality of services provided by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Notice Department of Commerce will submit to OMB for clearance a proposal for collection of information. Title: Alaska Pacific Halibut Fisheries: Charter Recordkeeping. Info here.

Notice Department of Commerce invites the general public and other Federal agencies to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. Info here.

Notice NMFS Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, has determined that an Exempted Fishing Permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. Info here.