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


JUDICIAL: Includes urb & ag and climate change issues.

In James K. WOOLFORD, Trustee of the Woolford Trust U/A Dtd 13 April 2008, et al. v. VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION, No. 161095, 2017 WL 5623441 (Va. November 22, 2017), plaintiff owned a large farm and hired a professional appraiser in order to apply for a land preservation tax credit. Virgina Tax Department rescinded $4.9 million in land preservation tax credits it had earlier awarded to plaintiff. Lower court sustained the agency’s decision and ruled plaintiff’s appraiser was not a “qualified appraiser” per the Tax Code. State Supreme Court reversed and ruled appraiser was qualified after considering the appraiser’s “detailed appraisal report, correspondence, and extensive testimony.”

IN RE PETITION OF GMPSOLAR–RICHMOND, LLC (Allco Renewable Energy Limited, Appellant), Nos. 2016–034 and 2016–148, 2017 WL 5623519 (Vt. November 22, 2017) involved a certificate-of-public-good (CPG) proceeding for a solar electric generation facility. The applicant for the CPG is an electricity utility and is owned by an investor. Appellant develops solar electric facilities in Vermont and a Public Service Board (PSB) denied its request for intervention as of right and permissive intervention. Appellant maintained that the Board “used the wrong framework in reviewing its request and incorrectly applied the intervention criteria.” Appellant further argued that the CPG should be denied for noncompliance because the electric utility “is a retail electricity utility governed by the federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).” State Supreme Court found “no abuse of discretion” by the Board and affirmed.


LEGISLATIVE:

H.R. 2615: Gulf Islands National Seashore Land Exchange Act of 2017. This bill has been added to the House’s schedule for the coming week.

H.R. 2768: Fowler and Boskoff Peaks Designation Act. This bill has been added to the House’s schedule for the coming week.

H.R. 3115: Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017. This bill has been added to the House’s schedule for the coming week.

H.R. 4454: To support State and tribal efforts to develop and implement management strategies to address chronic wasting disease among deer, elk, and moose populations. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and House Committee on Natural Resources.


REGULATORY: includes USDA, EPA, FCIC, FWS, NOAA and RUS rules and notices.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT:

Notice USDA has submitted information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund. Info here.

Notice announces the members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and Senior Level (SL) and Scientific or Professional (ST) Performance Review Board. Agriculture has one PRB that is represented by each Mission Area. Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule for “Approval of Nebraska Air Quality Implementation Plans; Adoption of a New Chapter Under the Nebraska Administrative Code” published in the Federal Register on October 5, 2017. Details here.

Rule EPA is proposing to approve a revision to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) portion of the Arizona State Implementation Plan (SIP). Info here.

Rule EPA is providing notice of the transfer of the state of Idaho’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program for Class II injection wells from Idaho to EPA, and is concurrently issuing a proposed rule to amend EPA’s UIC regulations to reflect such transfer. Details here.

FEDERAL CROP INSURANCE CORPORATION: Rule FCIC amends the Catastrophic Risk Protection Endorsement, the Area Risk Protection Insurance Basic Provisions, and the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions to revise and clarify policy provisions and reduce burden on producers choosing to insure their crops. Details here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE:

Notice the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Council) will meet to select North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant proposals for recommendation to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Info here.

Notice FWS received an application for incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ACT). Orange Dale Venture, LLC, (Applicant) is requesting a 10-year ITP. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS announces approval of a regulatory amendment to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to reallocate quota shares (QS) of widow rockfish in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program. Info here.

Rule NMFS implements accountability measures for the commercial hook-and-line component for golden tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. Details here.

Rule NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch in the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). Info here.

Notice the Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance a proposal for collection of information. Title: Recreational Angler Survey of Sea Turtle Interactions. Info here.

Notice the Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance a proposal for collection of information. Title: Billfish Tagging Report. Info here.

Notice the Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance a proposal for collection of information. Title: Greater Atlantic Region Vessel Identification Requirements. Details here.

Notice NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (L-DEO) to incidentally harass, by Level A and Level B harassment only, marine mammals during marine geophysical survey activities in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Details here.

RURAL UTILITIES SERVICE:

Rule RUS is issuing a final rule to streamline, revise, and update the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program, to minimize the burden of applying for and awarding grants. Info here.

Notice RUS published a document in the Federal Register on October 12, 2017 announcing the availability of up to $10 million in fiscal year 2017 (FY17) and application deadlines for competitive grants to assist communities with extremely high energy costs. Details here.