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

JUDICIAL: Includes PACA, bankruptcy, procedural, and environmental issues.

COAST-TO-COAST PRODUCE COMPANY, LLC, Plaintiff, v. MOUNTAIN FRESH FARMS, LLC, et al., Defendants, 1:16-CV-0830 (LEK/CFH), 2017 WL 972112 (N.D.N.Y. March 13, 2017) involved a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) action wherein plaintiff sought “prejudgment interest” from defendant at the New York statutory rate of nine percent. Court found that plaintiff provided “no contractual basis” for charging defendant interest. Court reasoned that “the invoices themselves do not mention interest, and [plaintiff] does not identify any other contract providing for interest on unpaid invoices.” Court declined to award plaintiff prejudgment interest.

In Re: LaRosa Greenhouse, LLP, Debtor, No.: 15-30672-ABA, 2017 WL 972081 (Bankr. D.N.J. March 13, 2017) concerned a Chapter 12 bankruptcy case involving a farm. Debtor wanted to modify its Chapter 12 confirmed plan and court considered whether whether debtor’s counsel “was entitled to compensation for post-confirmation services to be paid by the Debtor and whether the Debtor could modify its chapter 12 plan post-confirmation.” Court observed that in contrast to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, “in chapter 12 cases, the vesting of estate property in the debt or upon confirmation does not dissolve the bankruptcy estate.” Court noted that “confirmation is not one of the events that ends the bankruptcy estate,” and found that “a bankruptcy estate exists post-confirmation in a chapter 12 case.” Court ruled that debtor must pay for post-confirmation services.

BERKELEY RESEARCH GROUP, LLC, a California limited liability company, Plaintiff, v. UNITED POTATO GROWERS OF AMERICA, INC., an Idaho corporation; United Potato Growers of Idaho, Inc., an Idaho corporation; IdaGro, Inc., an Idaho corporation; Albert Wada, an Idaho resident; Wada Farms, Inc., an Idaho corporation; Wada Farms Potatoes, Inc., an Idaho corporation; Wada Farms Marketing Group, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company; Wada-Van Orden Potatoes, Inc., an Idaho corporation; Cedar Farms, Inc., an Idaho corporation; Wada Family, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company; Profresh, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company; Jeff Raybould, an Idaho resident; Raybould Brothers Farms, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company’ Michael Cranney, an Idaho resident; Cornelison Farms, Inc., a former Idaho corporation; Keith Cornelison, an Idaho resident; Snake River Plains Potatoes, Inc., an Idaho corporation; Lance Funk, an Idaho resident; Pleasant Valley Potato, Inc., an Idaho corporation; KCW Farms, Inc., an Idaho corporation; Kim Wahlen, an Idaho resident; and Does 1-100, Defendants, No. C 16-07205 WHA, 2017 WL 952680 (N.D. Cal. March 13, 2017) involved a suit arising from an expert litigation consulting contract between plaintiff (BRG) and a group of potato farmers and growing associations. Defendants hired plaintiff to provide expert services in connection with a multi-district litigation in Idaho. Issue concerned diversity jurisdiction and whether at least one of BRG’s members is a citizen of Utah. BRG argued diversity is incomplete between them and defendants because one of the removing defendants is a citizen of Utah, and at least four BRG limited liability company members have “a permanent, primary residence in Utah.” Court observed that, “While statements of intent in the domicile context are entitled to little weight when in conflict with the facts . . . the total absence of an assertion of intent to remain indefinitely inserts suspicion into [plaintiff’s] evidence.” Plaintiff’s motion to remand held in abeyance.

In State of SOUTH CAROLINA, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES; United States Department of Energy; Rick Perry, in his official capacity as Secretary of Energy;1National Nuclear Security Administration; and Lt. General Frank G. Klotz, in his official capacity as Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and Undersecretary for Nuclear Security, Defendants, No. 1:16-cv-00391-JMC, 2017 WL 976298 (D.S.C. March 14, 2017), plaintiff sued defendants for failure to adhere to statutory obligations relating to removal of defense plutonium. Defendant moved to dismiss claiming statute (50 USC §2566. Disposition of weapons-usable plutonium at Savannah River Site) “does not impose a requirement to remove defense plutonium and, thus . . . [plaintiff] fails to state a claim for which the court could grant relief.” After a thorough analysis of the relevant statues, the court determined “the plain text of subsection (c)(1) thus requires that, when the one metric ton of defense plutonium at issue in that provision is removed from South Carolina, that particular metric ton of defense plutonium must be stored or disposed in some place other than in South Carolina.” Defendant’s motion to dismiss denied in part.

REGULATORY: Includes EPA and NOAA rules and notices.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Rule announcing convening of a proceeding for reconsideration of the final rule ameding the chemical accident prevention provisions addressing Risk Management Programs under the Clean Air Act. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: Notice NMFS determined that an exempted fishing permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. Details here.