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


JUDICIAL: Includes landowner liability, labor, and urb & ag issues.

SARAH JANE GROVES AND GEORGE HIBERT GROVES, JR. APPELLANTS v. JOHN WOODS, SR., HAZEL J. WOODS, TERRY HARRIS AND TAMMY L. HARRIS APPELLEES, No. 2016-CA-001546-MR, 2018 WL 560417 (Ky. Ct. App. January 26, 2018) involved landowner liability wherein plaintiff was injured by a horse on defendants’ property. Plaintiff leased the property from defendant and appealed after lower court granted summary judgment. Plaintiff argued defendants were negligent in providing a fence on the property and that the horse was an “open and obvious danger.” Appellate court observed that plaintiffs knew the horse was present on the property that they leased and concluded “[i]t is well-settled law in Kentucky that a landlord is only required to warn a tenant of a known, latent danger.” Affirmed.

In Selso Palma ULLOA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. FANCY FARMS, INC., Defendant, No. 8:15–cv–2690–T–24 AAS, 2018 WL 557865 (M.D. Fla. January 9, 2018), defendant operated a strawberry farm and contracted with a staffing firm to hire workers via the H-2A program. Plaintiff argued he paid recruitment fees to staffing firm hired by defendant was and was never reimbursed. Plaintiff brought a breach of contract claim based on defendant’s breach of its obligation to “contractually forbid third party staffing firms from seeking recruitment payments from prospective employees.” Defendant claimed it was not liable for staffing firm’s actions, including “seeking recruitment fees solely because such conduct was not authorized by defendant.” Per this issue, court observed that federal regulations show that “failure to contractually forbid recruitment fees is a violation that can result in a penalty against the employer.” Court further reasoned that foreign laborers may sue for breach of contract to attempt to recover recruitment fees paid “when the employer fails to contractually forbid the recruiter from charging recruitment fees.”

In Rodney CAPPEL et al, appellants and cross-appellees, v. STATE of Nebraska DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, an executive department and agency of the State of Nebraska, and Jeff Fassett, in his official capacity as director of the Department of Natural Resources, appellees and cross-appellants, No. S-16-1037, 298 Neb. 445 (Neb. December 22, 2017), a group of farmers brought inverse condemnation claims against Department of Natural Resources (DNR), after the agency began regulating surface water use in a river basin under an interstate Compact. The administration of water in the basin at issue is subject to “an interstate compact between Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado that regulates the consumption of the basin’s waters and allocates a certain amount of surface water to each state.” District Court found the State was not protected by sovereign immunity, but dismissed the complaint because no taking occurred. On appeal, Nebraska Supreme Court found the farmers did not have “property rights superior to the interstate Compact,” and that the DNR’s actions “were not a regulatory taking.” Affirmed in part and reversed in part.


REGULATORY: Includes USDA, APHIS, FS, and NOAA rules and notices.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Notice USDA will submit information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Water Use Surveys. Info here.

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE:

Notice APHIS is amending the regulations governing the importation of plants for planting to add orchid plants of the genus Dendrobium from Taiwan to the list of plants that may be imported into the United States in an approved growing medium, subject to specified growing, inspection, and certification requirements. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE:

Rule FS is revising the text of Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding the Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber. Details here.

Notice FS advises the public that the USDA Forest Service, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Montpelier Ranger District, is gathering information necessary to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in connection with Lower Valley Energy’s request to construct an eight-inch diameter, low pressure pipeline in a north-northeasterly direction between Montpelier, Idaho and Afton, Wyoming. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS is issuing a final rule to list the oceanic whitetip shark as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Info here.

Rule that NMFS issued final specifications for scup, summer flounder, and black sea bass for 2018. This document corrects the final This document corrects the final 2018 specifications and informs the public of these adjustments. Details here.

Rule NMFS proposes to approve changes to the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan and codified regulations for the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s regulatory Area 2A off Washington, Oregon, and California. Details here.

Notice Commerce invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. Details here.