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


ANNOUNCEMENT: Mark your calendar for the next Agricultural & Food Law Consortium webinar, Tuesday, January 16th: “The New Deal: Understanding and Negotiating Dairy Supply Contracts.” Details available here.


JUDICIAL: Includes animal welfare, labor, and farm labor issues.

In BETTINA ROED, NANCY BENNETT, KIMBERLY WHITE, TATIANA CHAN, PATRICK CHAN, GRETCHEN FAHRENBRUCH, MARY ANN CANCIO, TARI PANTALEO, DOUG MILLER, JOHN T. JONES, RUTH H. JONES, and DEBORAH HEPLER, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. TOWNSHIP OF WEST WINDSOR, MAYOR OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WEST WINDSOR, COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WEST WINDSOR, and TOWNSHIP OF EAST WINDSOR, Defendants-Appellants, NO. A-2810-15T3, 2018 WL 333488 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. January 9, 2018), a township’s police department issued a memoranda agreeing to take over animal control services for a neighboring township. Lower court invalidated the agreement after concluding that it did “not provide an adequate level of animal control services … to meet the requirements of the state’s animal control statutes.” Defendants appealed and argued they complied with “all applicable state laws and regulations.” Appellate court affirmed after concluding that reliance upon police rather than a certified animal control officer “failed to meet the requirements of the animal control statute and regulations.”

In LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Sacramento County, Respondent; Fowler Packing Company, Inc., et al., Real Parties in Interest, C083180, 2018 WL 316865 (Cal. Ct. App. January 8, 2018), a packing company made a Public Records Act request regarding a state statute involving “minimum wages for employees paid on a piece-rate basis.” The statute also concerned “safe-harbor provisions that provide employers with an affirmative defense against wage and hour claims.” California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (Agency) withheld information from packing company and trial court ordered the agency to produce “an index [including names]. . . to justify withholding information in response to company’s request.” Agency sought to prevent disclose of the information and cited confidentiality concerns. Appellate court concluded trial court erred “in requiring disclosure of matters protected by the deliberative process and attorney work product privileges.” Order vacated.

Alexander ACOSTA, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff, v. VALLEY GARLIC, INC., dba Sequoia Packing Co., a California corporation; Christian Barrere Marrione, an individual; David Clark Anderson, an individual; X–Treme Ag Labor, Inc., a California corporation; Isabella Alvarez Camacho, an individual; Ofelia Ramirez Morales, an individual; and Cesar Neri, an individual, Defendants, No. 1:16–cv–01156–AWI–EPG, 2018 WL 288017 (E.D. Cal. January 4, 2018) involved the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) after some farm workers were injured in a crash involving defendants’ vehicles. Defendants filed for bankruptcy and were granted an automatic stay. Plaintiff moved for a reconsideration of the stay. Defendants argued plaintiff “fails the pecuniary purpose test [under the FLSA] because he seeks to recover some monetary relief, namely unpaid wages.” Court disagreed and reasoned that although the plaintiff “seeks to recover unpaid wages on behalf of the impacted workers—in addition to enjoining conduct offending the FLSA and AWPA—does not alter the character of the action.” Court ruled plaintiff’s suit is “exempted from the reach of the automatic stay.”


LEGISLATIVE:

S. 1425: Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act. Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

H.R. 267: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act of 2017. Signed by President.

H.R. 560: To amend the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Improvement Act to provide access to certain vehicles serving residents of municipalities adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Signed by President.

H.R. 1306: Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act. Signed by President.

H.R. 4475: National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act. Bill’s text for status Reported by House Committee (Jan 9, 2018) is now available.

H.R. 4568: Enhancing Geothermal Production on Federal Lands Act. Bill’s text for status Reported by House Committee (Jan 9, 2018) is now available.

H.R. 4749: To amend the Agricultural Trade Act of 1978 to establish a program to enhance transparency and traceability of food products. Bill referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.


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

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Notice USDA has submitted information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Importation of Tomatoes from France, Morocco, Western Sahara, Chile, and Spain. Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTRECTION AGENCY: Rule EPA is withdrawing the November 14, 2017 direct final rule approving State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions submitted by the State of New Hampshire. Details here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE:

Notice FWS will prepare draft environmental analysis (either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the proposed habitat conservation plan for the California Department of Parks and Recreation Oceano Dunes District. Info here.

Notice FWS seeks comment on applications to conduct certain activities with foreign endangered and threatened species. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS implements management measures described in Amendment 41 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. Info here.

Notice NOAA invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. Title: Coral Reef Conservation Program Administration. Info here.

Notice NOAA invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. Title: Economic Survey of Recreational Steelhead Fishermen in Washington State. Details here.

Notice NOAA invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. Title: Fishery Capacity Reduction Program Buyback Requests. Details here.