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, Wednesday, March 21st: 2018 Farm Bill Outlook. Details available here.


JUDICIAL: Includes labor and animal welfare issues.

In Adolfo HERNANDEZ, Rogelio Flores-Escobar, Francisco Silva-Garcia, Martin Perez-Medel, Gustavo Arellano-Olmos, Luis Leon-Salinas, and Manuel Morales, Plaintiffs, v. RAY DOMENICO FARMS, INC.; Gregory L. Domenico; and Theresa M. Domenico, Defendants, No. 17SA77, 2018 WL 1146468 (Colo. March 5, 2018), migrant farm workers sued organic vegetable farmer for violations of the Colorado Wage Claim Act (CWCA). At issue were unpaid wages that “seem to be time-barred because they became due and payable more than two (or three) years earlier.” Plaintiffs argued that under the CWCA, employees can seek “any unpaid wages or compensation earned during the course of their employment, as the statute of limitations begins to run on their [CWCA] claim only upon the termination of the employment relationship.” Defendant argued terminated employees may collect wages “only due as part of the final paycheck.” Court concluded terminated employees “are not limited to only those wages or compensation that become due and payable upon separation.” The court agreed with defendants, however, that plaintiffs could not “resurrect claims for wages that were time-barred as of the date of termination.”

ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Bailing Out Benji, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc., and Center for Food Safety, Plaintiffs, v. Kimberly K. REYNOLDS, in her official capacity as Governor of Iowa, Tom Miller, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Iowa, and Bruce E. Swanson, in his official capacity as County Attorney for Montgomery County, Iowa, Defendants, No. 4:17–cv–00362–JEG, 2018 WL 1151000 (S.D. Iowa February 27, 2018) involved a challenge to Iowa’s Agricultural Production Facility Fraud statute by animal advocacy groups. Plaintiffs claimed the law is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. With respect to plaintiffs’ Equal Protection argument, the court found that plaintiffs provided “no authority for the proposition that protection for one favored group would necessarily signify animus for those opposed to that favored group.” Court also acknowledged that defendants “identified legitimate governmental objectives in preventing trespasses at operating industrial facilities . . . and in preventing fraud in employment.” Defendant’s motion to dismiss granted in part.


LEGISLATIVE:

S. 2372: Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act. Referred to House Committee (Mar 5, 2018) is now available.

H.R. 5169: To amend the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act to prioritize research on sensor and imager technology in agriculture. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.

H.R. 5164: To expand economic opportunities, improve community policing, and promote common-sense gun violence prevention in underserved communities. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and 7 other committees.

H.R. 5170: To amend title 54, United States Code, to reauthorize and reform the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and one other committee.

H.R. 5168: To amend the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 to establish seaweed as a high-priority research and extension area. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture which will consider it before sending it to the House floor for consideration.


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

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE:

Notice APHIS is dvising the public that an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact have been prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service relative to the release of a stem gall weevil, Rhinusa pilosa, for the biological control of yellow toadflax. Details here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule establishes tolerances for residues of fluopicolide in or on multiple commodities which are identified and discussed later in this document. Details here.

Rule EPA received adverse comment on the direct final rule titled “Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revision to References for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Sector to Incorporate Latest Edition of Certain Industry, Consensus- based Standards,” published on December 11, 2017. Info here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE:

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

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). Info here.

Notice the Access-Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) was redesigned prior to implementation in 2013. Info here.