A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions to: camarigg at uark.edu


ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us Thursday, January 19, at 12 noon (ET) for a free webinar: Major Market Approval and the Syngenta China Corn Class Action. Details and sign-in information here.


JUDICIAL: Includes labor and bankruptcy issues.

In Gaudencio Garcia–Celestino, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Raymundo Cruz–Vicencio, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Raul Ismael Estrada–Gabriel, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Daniel Ferro–Nieves, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Jose Manuel Ferro–Nieves, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, et al., Plaintiffs–Appellees, v. Ruiz Harvesting, Inc., et al., Defendants, Consolidated Citrus Limited Partnership, Defendant–Appellant, No. 16-10790, 843 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. Dec. 15, 2016), temporary migrant farm workers brought class action alleging a labor supplier and a fruit grower violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay promised wages for hours worked, and that fruit grower was liable as a “joint employer.” Labor supplier suit was settled, but district court granted judgment against fruit grower and fruit grower appealed. Court considered “joint employer” issue and identified eight factors to determine whether an entity qualifies as an employer under the FLSA “suffer or permit to work” standard. Court stated, “The ultimate question, when applying these [Aimable factors] to determine joint employer status under the FLSA ‘suffer or permit to work’ standard, is whether, as a matter of ‘economic reality,’ the hired individual is ‘economically dependent’ upon the hiring entity.” Court affirmed lower court and held fruit grower liable as a joint employer under FLSA.

IN RE: LANCE LEE MEYER, Debtor, Bankruptcy No. 14-01484, 2017 WL 113603 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa Jan. 11, 2017) involved a debtor that rented farmland from several family trusts administered by trustee. Debtor farmed trust land for a decade and filed bankruptcy. Trustee sought past due rent and debtor claimed that improvements to trust-owned facilities and repairs to trust-owned equipment offset trustee’s claim. Trustee argued lease did not include the use of the equipment and facilities and that debtor’s claims are barred by statute of limitations. Court found that the lease included “use of the equipment and facilities, as well as reimbursement for repairs and improvements.” Ruling for debtor.


LEGISLATIVE:

S. 101: A bill to provide for the exchange of Federal land and non-Federal land in the State of Alaska for the construction of a road between King Cove and Cold Bay. Bill referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Sponsor: Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R-AK].

H.R. 306: Energy Efficient Government Technology Act. Bill’s text for status Passed the House and is now available.

H.R. 434: To authorize a pilot project for an innovative water project financing program, and for other purposes. Bill referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.  Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Denham [R-CA10].

H.R. 438: To direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a California New River restoration program to build on, and help coordinate funding for, restoration and protection efforts relating to the New River. Bill referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Sponsor: Rep. Juan Vargas [D-CA51].

H.R. 442: To lift the trade embargo on Cuba, and for other purposes. Bill referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, House Committee on Financial Services, and 2 other committees. Sponsor: Rep. Tom Emmer [R-MN6].

MEETING: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Meeting to examine the nomination of Ryan Zinke, of Montana, to be Secretary of the Interior. Jan. 17 at 10 a.m. Location: SD-366.

MEETING: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Meeting to examine the nomination of Scott Pruitt, of Oklahoma, to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Jan. 18 at 10 a.m.  Location: SD-406.


REGULATORY: Includes AMS, ARS, USDA, EPA, FSA, FWS, FDA, FNS, FS. ITA, NOAA, NPS, and PPTO rules and notices.

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE:

Rule would adjust representation on the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board to reflect changes in domestic cattle inventories since January 1, 2013, and changes in levels of imported cattle, beef, and beef products occurring since December 31, 2012. Details here.

Rule proposes amending country of origin labeling (COOL) regulation to add muscle cuts of venison and ground venison to mandatory COOL requirements. Details here.

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE: Notice ARS will grant to Huvepharma, Inc. of Peachtree City, Georgia, an exclusive license to U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 15/108,725, “MUTATED SALMONELLA ENTERIACA.” Info here.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT:

Notice USDA submitted information collection requirement(s) to Office of Management and Budget for review. Title: 7 CFR 1783, Revolving Fund Program. Details here.

Notice USDA, Food and Nutrition Service will conduct a computer matching program with the State agencies of all 50 States and the State agencies of the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands administering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule EPA proposes to implement section 425 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, which requires EPA to work with the Great Lakes states to establish public notification requirements for combined sewer overflow discharges to the Great Lakes. Details here.

Rule recent amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act require EPA to designate chemical substances on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory as either “active” or “inactive” in U.S. commerce. Info here.

FARM SERVICE AGENCY: Notice seeks comments on an information collection associated with FSA’s Farm Loan Programs General Program Administration. Details here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE:

Notice FWS seeks comment on applications for a permit to conduct activities intended to enhance the survival of endangered or threatened species. Details here.

Notice FWS announces opening of an information gathering period regarding the status of the fisher throughout the range of its northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment. Details here.

Notice FWS and NPS announce the availability of the Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the North Cascades Ecosystem, Washington. Info here.

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION:

Rule extends comment period for the notice of availability of a draft guidance entitled “Scientific Evaluation of the Evidence on the Beneficial Physiological Effects of Isolated or Synthetic Non-Digestible Carbohydrates Submitted as a Citizen Petition.” Info here.

Notice FDA is establishing a docket to receive suggestions for topics from interested parties on policy issues considered by the FDA Combination Product Policy Council. Details here.

FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE: Notice the final rule titled Administrative Reviews in the School Nutrition Programs was published on July 29, 2016 (81 FR 50170). Info here.

FOREST SERVICE:

Notice the Salmon-Challis National Forest is initiating the first phase of the forest planning process pursuant to the 2012 National Forest System Land Management Planning rule. Info here.

Notice FS submitted an application to Secretary of Interior proposing a withdrawal of approximately 234,328 acres of National Forest System lands within the Rainy River Watershed on the Superior National Forest from disposition under United States mineral and geothermal leasing laws. Details here.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION: Notice on June 22, 2016, the Department of Commerce published its preliminary results in these changed circumstances reviews regarding certain pasta from Italy. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS withdraws a proposed rule to revise existing regulations governing confidentiality of information submitted in compliance with any requirement under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Details here.

Rule announcing receipt by NMFS of a petition for rulemaking to establish a whale protection zone in the San Juan Islands, Washington. Details here.

Notice during a meeting of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, twelve species of fauna were nominated and recommended to be added to the Annexes of the SPAW Protocol. Info here.

Notice a permit application was submitted by California American Water Company to NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to construct and operate a reverse osmosis desalination facility project. Info here.

Notice that NOAA has finalized revisions to the agency’s procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act. Details here.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: Notice FWS and NPS announce the availability of the Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the North Cascades Ecosystem, Washington. Info here.

PROCUREMENT AND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT OFFICE, USDA: Rule would amend the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement to add 12 sections that will designate 12 product categories composed of intermediate ingredient and feedstock materials within which biobased products would be afforded procurement preference by Federal agencies. Info here.