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


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

The MAYOR and Aldermen OF GARDEN CITY v. HARRIS et al, S17G0692, 2018 WL 575988 (Ga. January 29, 2018) concerned interpretation of Georgia’s Recreational Property Act (RPA) which shields landowners from liability who “either directly or indirectly invite or permit without charge any person to use their property for recreational purposes.” Plaintiff, a child, was injured after falling off some bleachers at a sporting event on City property and sued City. City argued it had no liability because plaintiff was not charged a fee to use the property for recreational purposes. Appellate court concluded “a landowner would not be shielded from potential liability by the RPA where that landowner charged a fee to some people who used the landowner’s property for recreational purposes, but did not charge any fee to the injured party who used the property for such purposes.” State Supreme Court reversed appellate decision, finding the RPA’s language shielded City from liability.

In THOMAS W. LANE, ZONING ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OF THE TOWN OF CLINTON v. JEFFREY S. CASHMAN ET AL, (AC 38290), 2018 WL 577343 (Conn. App. Ct. January 30, 2018), plaintiff alleged defendant operated a farming operation on his property in violation of local zoning laws. Plaintiff was granted an injunction and defendant appealed, arguing that their use of the property at issue “was a nonconforming use that existed prior to the town’s amendment of the zoning regulations in 2012 with respect to farms and livestock.” Appellate court observed, however, that defendants did not file a timely appeal and failed to demonstrate, on the record, that their farming activities existed prior to enactment of the zoning ordinance. Affirmed for plaintiff.

In FRIENDS OF ANIMALS, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, and SCOTT PRUITT, in his official capacity as the Administrator the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Defendants, and THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES, Proposed Defendant-Intervenor, No. 2:17-cv-01410-SU, 2018 WL 566215 (D. Or. January 26, 2018), plaintiff sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeking a Special Review of the pesticide ZonaStat-H. Compl (PZP). The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) moved to intervene as a defendant because of the pesticide’s impact on wild horses. Plaintiff initially did not oppose HSUS intervention provided HSUS agreed to a number of conditions. Ultimately, HSUS would not agree to waive its right to supplement the administrative record, and plaintiff then objected to HSUS intervention. Court considered the issue of intervention by HSUS and observed that the EPA “represents the broad public interest, whereas HSUS has the narrower interest of preventing cruelty to animals, and specifically in the protection of wild horses and burros.” Motion to intervene granted.

In re: Michael J. Rogers, dba Roger’s Farms, Debtor. Jeffrey Snider, Valerie Snider, CAV Farms Inc., Medio Cielo, LLC, individually and as trustees of the Snider Living Trust, Plaintiffs, v. Michael J. Rogers, Defendant, Bankruptcy Case No. 17-21187-PRW, Adversary Proceeding No. 18-2001-PRW, 2018 WL 576750 (Bankr. W.D. New York January 25, 2018) involved a Chapter 12 bankruptcy case wherein “2,100 head of cattle and over $500,000 of collateral disappeared just prior to the commencement of the case.” When questioned by creditors, debtor invoked the Fifth Amendment and claimed no business records exist regarding his farm operation. Trustee filed motion to dismiss and court reasoned debtor filed the case “to hold off creditors, while the tracks of 2,100 missing cows faded.” Court further observed that “[t]he rights and remedies of the creditors can be effectively and quickly determined by the state courts.” Court concluded debtor filed his Chapter 12 case in “bad faith” and dismissed.


LEGISLATIVE:

H.R. 219: Swan Lake Hydroelectric Project Boundary Correction Act. Text for status Reported by House Committee (Jan 29, 2018) is now available.

H.R. 2630: La Paz County Land Conveyance Act. Text for status Reported by House Committee (Jan 29, 2018) is now available.

H.R. 3058: Gateway Arch National Park Designation Act. Text for status Reported by House Committee (Jan 29, 2018) is now available.

S. 2350: A bill to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a forest incentives program to keep forests intact and sequester carbon on private forest land of the United States. Referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

H.R. 4888: To provide that the production safety systems rule and the well control rule in section 250 of title 30, Code of Federal Regulations, shall have the same force and effect of law as if such rules had been enacted by an Act of Congress. Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

H.R. 4892: To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 with respect to nutrient and soil health management and source water protection. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture which will consider it before sending it to the House floor for consideration.

H.R. 4895: To establish the Medgar Evers National Monument in the State of Mississippi. Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.


REGULATORY: Includes AMS, USDA, EPA, FCIC, and FDA rules and notices. 

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE:

Rule AMS is adopting, as a final rule an interim rule that implemented a recommendation from the Washington Apricot Marketing Committee to decrease the assessment rate established for the 2017-2018 and subsequent fiscal periods. Info here.

Rule realigns the production districts for producer and handler membership on the National Watermelon Promotion Board under the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) regulations regarding a national research and promotion program for watermelons. Info here.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Notice USDA has submitted information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Communicable Diseases in Horses. Details here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Rule that on December 1, 2017 EPA published a direct final Notice of Deletion for the Hatheway & Patterson Superfund Site from the National Priorities List. The EPA is withdrawing the direct final Notice of Deletion due to adverse comments that were received during the public comment period. Details here.

FEDERAL CROP INSURANCE CORPORATION: Rule FCIC amends the Common Crop Insurance Regulations, Nursery Crop Insurance Provisions. The intended effect of this action is to clarify existing policy provisions, increase risk management choices allowed by the policy provisions, and expand availability to more producers. Details here.

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Rule FDA is confirming the effective date of December 8, 2017, for the final rule that appeared in the Federal Register of November 7, 2017, and that amended the color additive regulations to provide for the safe use of calcium carbonate to color hard and soft candy, mints, and in inks used on the surface of chewing gum. Info here.