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

JUDICIAL: Includes PACA, biosecurity, SNAP, bankruptcy, and administrative issues.

ALLIANCE SHIPPERS, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Respondent, v. CASA DE CAMPO, INC.; Pedro Perez, individually and as an agent of Casa De Campo, Inc.; Arthur De Pinto; Felix Produce Corp.; Felix Ceballo, individually and as an agent of Felix Produce Corp.; GFP Distributors, Inc. t/a Garden Fresh Produce; Joseph T. Guarracino, individually and as an agent of GFP Distributors, Inc. t/a Garden Fresh Produce; Joseph Kolinek, individually and t/a C&M Produce; Lionxen Corp. and Produce Biz LLC t/a Poseidon Food Service; Xenofon Gialias, individually and as agent of Lionxen Corp. and Produce Biz LLC t/a Poseidon Food Service; Village Produce, Inc.; Mohammed Hadi, individually and as agent of Village Produce, Inc.; Alex Produce Corp.; Alex Bonilla a/k/a Alejandro Bonilla, individually and as an agent of Alex Produce Corp.; Hee Jae Park d/b/a J&S Produce Company; Luis Jose Bonilla d/b/a Luis Jose Produce; Zef Deljevic; Henry Garland, individually and t/a Pro Quality Produce and Balmangan Produce, Inc.; George V. Roussos; Sananjos Produce Corp. d/b/a Frieman Bros.; Korean Produce Corp.; Paul Kim a/k/a Pil Jung Kim and Stella Koufalis, individually and t/a KMS Fruit & Vegetables; and Havana Produce, Inc., Defendants, and Ernesto Reguitti, individually and as an agent of Sananjos Produce Corp. d/b/a Frieman Bros., Defendant-Respondent/Cross-Appellant, NO. A-0255-15T3, 2017 WL 1436114 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. April 24, 2017) involved a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) suit resulting in sanctions imposed on the plaintiff by the court. After a lengthy review of the litigation at issue, the appellate court reversed the sanctions imposed on plaintiff and state, “In our review, the court, not Alliance, is responsible for the confusion created by assigning two judges to handle separate aspects of a single matter. The record suggests each judge reviewed a single aspect of the case without regard to other pending issues.” The court further noted, “Although a judge has the right to amend or vacate an interlocutory order, he or she may not do so without complying with due process requisites.” Case reversed and remanded.

In FRANKLIN LIVESTOCK, INC., J and K Cattle, Kevin Van Beek, and Jay Leloux, Plaintiffs, v. BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM VETMEDICA, INC., Defendant, NO. 5:15–CV–63–BO, 2017 WL 1434490 (E.D.N.C. April 18, 2017), plaintiff bought and “preconditioned” cattle on behalf of customers and purchased vaccines manufactured by defendant. Plaintiffs alleged that after administering vaccines their cattle suffered symptoms of endotoxemia and died. Defendant countered that if plaintiffs had excessive death loss, “it was due to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by bacteria for which defendant’s vaccines are neither designed nor labeled to protect against.” Court considered evidence of both parties and concluded plaintiff was not able to establish “which cattle, owned by whom, died when or for what reason.” Plaintiff’s claims dismissed.

In Musleh LUDI and Nargis Sultana, Plaintiffs, v. Theresa MAYLONE and Jerome Wren, Defendants, No. 16-14410, 2017 WL 1476903 (E.D. Mich. April 25, 2017), plaintiff sued for constitutional violations relative to a search and seizure incident stemming from an investigation of a grocery store for alleged “bridge card fraud” in violation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Court did not find the officers involved violated a “clearly established constitutional right,” and concluded the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. Case dismissed.

IN RE: DAVID EUGENE YUSKA, Debtor, No. 14-1504, 2017 WL 1483485 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa April 25, 2017) involved a bankruptcy and concerned an appeal of an order denying debtor’s request to have the Chapter 7 trustee return money when the case was converted from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7. Iowa Department of Revenue converted the bankruptcy case from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 and after conversion, “the Chapter 13 remitted the $40,704.00 in farmland rents, less fees, to the Chapter 7 Trustee.” Debtor sought return of the farmland rents and the court denied his motion. Appellate court reasoned that “when Debtor filed his Chapter 13 petition, his farmland tenants owed him rent under the lease agreement.” Court concluded that rent owed debtor “was not ‘wages’ for services that Debtor rendered postpetition,” but were rents “owing to Debtor prepetition for property rents, and would have entered into the bankruptcy estate in both Chapter 13 and Chapter 7.”

In MARY ANN SMITH, d/b/a SMITH’S KENNEL, Appellant, v. THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES and MISSOURIANS FOR THE PROTECTION OF DOGS, Respondents, No. SC 95175, 2017 WL 1485572 (Mo. April 25, 2017), plaintiff sued the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, alleging statements made in documents related to the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” defamed her. Plaintiff claimed statements were defamatory because they “falsely stated or implied her kennel was one of the worst ‘puppy mills’ in Missouri.” Defendant countered the statements were “absolutely privileged opinions,” because “ratings, rankings and grades are inherently subjective.” Circuit court dismissed plaintiff’s suit and she appealed. Appellate court found that, “Because none of the statements pleaded in the defamation claims were actionable as a matter of law and because she did not plead any facts cognizable in a false light claim, the circuit court did not err in dismissing the petition.”


REGULATORY: Includes FSA, FS, NOAA, RBCS, RHS, and RUS rules and notices.

FARM SERVICE AGENCYRule FSA published a document in the Federal Register on March 2, 2016 (81 FR 11000), entitled “Environmental Policies and Procedures.” Info here.

FOREST SERVICE: Notice the Palouse Ranger District of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is gathering information to prepare an environmental impact statement. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS is issuing regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to the training activities conducted in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA) Study Area. Details here.

Rule NMFS received a request from the U.S. Navy for authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting operations of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active sonar in areas of the world’s oceans. Details here.

RURAL BUSINESS-COOPERATIVE SERVICE: Rule RBCS published a document in the Federal Register on March 2, 2016 (81 FR 11000), entitled “Environmental Policies and Procedures.” Info here.

RURAL HOUSING SERVICE: Rule RHS published a document in the Federal Register on March 2, 2016 (81 FR 11000), entitled “Environmental Policies and Procedures.” Info here.

RURAL UTILITIES SERVICE: Rule RUS published a document in the Federal Register on March 2, 2016 (81 FR 11000), entitled “Environmental Policies and Procedures.” Info here.