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


JUDICIAL: Includes environmental and administrative law issues. 

In Thomas L. BRANTLEY, et al., Plaintiffs, v. INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY, Defendant, No. 2: 09-230-DCR, 2017 WL 2292767 (M.D. Ala. May 24, 2017), a class of plaintiffs alleged defendant caused injuries by releasing hazardous substances into the environment. Court allowed parties to select 40 “test plaintiffs” to expedite discovery. Upon considering testimony of a number of potential plaintiffs, court determined “there is simply no evidence—beyond speculation—that the mill is responsible for these damages, which include failing air conditioners, refrigerators, and microwaves of various vintages.” Defendant’s motion for summary judgment regarding test plaintiffs’ property damage claims granted.

In Kathy WHITSON, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Defendant, No. 16–cv–01090–LTB–NYW, 2017 WL 2242592 (D. Colo. May 23, 2017), plaintiff alleged Forest Service violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), by failing to fully respond to her July 27, 2015 FOIA request for agency records. Plaintiff’s FOIA request concerned administration of a Wild Horse and Burro Program in New Mexico. Court considered a number of issues and observed that, “FOIA Exemption 5 allows a government agency to withhold ‘inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency….’” Defendant’s motion for summary judgment granted in part.

In Gloria Palacios MORALEZ, Plaintiff, v. George Ervin PERDUE III1, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture, Defendant, No. 1:16–CV–00282–AWI–BAM, 2017 WL 2264855 (E.D. Cal. May 24, 2017), plaintiff suffered a loss of about 70 percent of her raisin grape crop and applied for disaster payments from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Plaintiff claimed USDA denied her payments based on her Hispanic identity and that USDA’s failure to provide her with disaster payments while providing such benefits to similarly-situated while male farmers constituted unlawful discrimination in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Court found that plaintiff “failed to make the strong showing necessary to permit discovery in this APA action, and granted defendant’s motion precluding further discovery.


REGULATORY: Includes AMS,  EPA, FWS, FDA, FNS, FS, GIPSA, ITA, and NOAA rules and notices.

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE:

Rule amends the Beef Promotion and Research Order by adding six Harmonized Tariff Schedule codes for imported veal and veal products and updating assessment levels for imported veal and veal products based on revised determinations of live animal equivalencies. Info here.

Rule proposes to establish a de minimis quantity exemption threshold under the Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order. Details here.

Notice AMS announces a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board to assist the USDA in the development of standards for substances to be used in organic production and to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on any other aspects of the implementation of Organic Foods Production Act. Details here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule EPA is approving the April 14, 2016, request from the Indiana to redesignate the Muncie nonattainment area to attainment for the 2008 national ambient air quality standards for lead. Details here.

Rule EPA approves a state implementation plan revision submitted by the State of Maryland. Details here.

Rule EPA approves updates to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council air quality regulations in the Washington State Implementation Plan. Details here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE:

Rule FWS prescribes final frameworks from which States may select season dates, limits, and other options for the 2017-18 migratory bird hunting seasons. Info here.

Rule FWS announces the reopening of the comment period for a proposed rule to list the Texas hornshell as an endangered species. Details here.

Notice FWS will ask OMB to approve an information collection. Title: Federal Fish and Wildlife Permit Applications and Reports—Migratory Birds and Eagles. Details here.

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION:

Rule FDA announces that BASF Corp. has filed a petition proposing that the food additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of formic acid as a feed acidifying agent in complete poultry feeds. Info here.

Notice solicits comments on the information collection provisions of FDA’s regulations for submission of petitions, including food and color additive petitions, submission of information to a master file in support of petitions, and electronic submission using FDA Form 3503. Info here.

FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE:

Notice FNS will conduct a census of all 53 State Agencies that administer the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to catalog and describe how States are currently using or planning to use computer matching strategies to reduce recipient fraud, payment errors, and administrative burden for both applicants and eligibility workers. Info here.

Notice FNS invites comment on the proposed collection of information for the Evaluation of Alternatives to Improve Elderly Access. Details here.

Notice invites comment on a proposed information collection regarding the Study of School Food Authority Procurement Practices. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE: Notice the Sierra County Resource Advisory Committee will meet in Sierraville, California. Details here.

GRAIN INSPECTION, PACKERS AND STOCKYARDS ADMINISTRATION:

Notice GIPSA seeks comments on the quality of services provided by the following designated agency: Aberdeen Grain Inspection, Inc. Info here.

Notice GIPSA seeks comments on the quality of services provided by the following designated agency: Hastings Grain Inspection, Inc. Info here.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION:

Notice the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on Thursday, July 27, 2017 at the U.S. Department of Commerce Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington, DC. Info here.

Notice the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee will hold a conference call on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS hereby amends the Capital Construction Fund regulations to eliminate provisions that no longer meet the needs of CCF participants, and to simplify and clarify the regulations to better implement the purposes of the underlying statute. Info here.

Rule closing the American Plaice Trimester Total Allowable Catch Area to Northeast multispecies common pool vessels fishing with trawl gear for the remainder of Trimester 1, through August 31, 2017. Details here.

Rule NMFS proposes to implement annual management measures and harvest specifications to establish the allowable catch levels for the northern subpopulation of Pacific sardine. Details here.

Notice NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization to the National Park Service to incidentally harass marine mammals during gull monitoring and research activities in Glacier Bay National Park. Details here.

Notice that a Letter of Authorization has been issued to the U.S. Navy to take marine mammals incidental to Navy training activities conducted in the Gulf of Alaska Temporary Maritime Activities Area. Info here.