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 real property, antitrust, FSA, USWA, and TEFAP issues.

In In Pendergrast v. Matichuk, 379 P.3d 96 (Wash. 2016), plaintiff and defendant bought adjacent lots separated by a fence. Parties maintained their lots with the fence as a boundary line, however, the fence stood several feet from the deed line and on defendant’s land. Defendant tore down the fence and built a new one on the deed line. Plaintiff won action to quiet title and defendant appealed. Court observed that, “A common grantor can establish an ‘on the ground’ boundary line between tracts of land sold to separate parties ‘that is binding on the common grantees,’ even when the deed describes a different boundary.” Judgment for plaintiff affirmed.

In First Impressions Salon, Inc. v. Nat’l Milk Producers Fed’n, No. 13-CV-454-NJR-SCW, 2016 WL 5816506 (S.D. Ill. Oct. 5, 2016), plaintiffs brought class action on behalf of purchasers of raw milk, cheese, and butter against defendants for violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The suit alleged defendants conspired to prematurely slaughter dairy cows to limit production of raw milk and drive up milk prices. Defendants argued plaintiff’s claims are barred by the “filed-rate doctrine.” The court observed that the filed-rate doctrine “comes into play when an entity is required to file rates for its services with a governing regulatory agency and the agency has been given exclusive authority by federal statute to set, approve, or disapprove the rates.” The court noted that, “Neither the over-order price of milk nor the price of butter and cheese is set, approved, or otherwise regulated by the Secretary of Agriculture. They are determined by market forces. Court found the filed-rate doctrine inapplicable and denied defendant’s motion on that issue.

In COREY LEA, Plaintiff-Appellant v. UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appellee, No. 2016-2108, 2016 WL 5845742 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 6, 2016), plaintiff, a farmer, acted via his company and applied for a loan guaranteed by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The loan guarantee named plaintiff’s company as borrower. Plaintiff defaulted, bank foreclosed, and plaintiff appealed suing the government for breach of contract on the loan guarantee. Court found the loan agreements were intended to help plaintiff’s company, and not the plaintiff as an individual. The court observed that “Even though Lea was the president and sole shareholder of Corey Lea, Inc., the company was and is still a separate legal entity.” The court found that “[Plaintiff] made the conscious choice to apply for the loan in his company’s name rather than his own.” Decision for defendant affirmed.

Canon Garth Ltd. v. Banner Grain & Peanut Co., No. 7:14-CV-191 (2016 WL 5745124 (M.D. Ga. Sept. 30, 2016) involved a contract for the sale of peanuts. Plaintiff produces and distributes peanuts and defendant buys, sells and stores peanuts. Plaintiff contracted to provide financing allowing defendant to purchase peanuts out of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Defendant could not find buyers for the peanuts and failed to pay plaintiff money owed. Defendant moved for summary judgment on a counterclaim for a tariff plaintiff allegedly owed under the United States Warehouse Act that “provides regulatory licensing for the storage of agricultural products in federally-licensed warehouses.” The court concluded that “notice is required if a warehouse operator intends to charge a warehouse user for storage, fumigation, load in, and load out fees, as Defendant attempts to do through its tariff claim.” Court found “material questions of fact remain unanswered as to Defendant’s tariff claim” and denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

In BREAD FOR THE CITY, INC., Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE et al., Defendants., No. CV 15-1591 (RJL), 2016 WL 5715922 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2016), plaintiff sued claiming USDA did not purchase and distribute over $277 million worth of food required by Congress as part of The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). USDA moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. Plaintiff and USDA argued about amount USDA was required to spend on TEFAP in fiscal year 2015. Plaintiff and USDA specifically disagreed about the interpretation of § 2036(a)(2)’s spending schedule and each party calculated different TEFAP totals for 2015. Court concluded that USDA’s interpretation of the statute was correct and that the agency was not required to spend an additional $277 million in 2015. USDA’s motion to dismiss granted. A copy of the opinion is available here.


REGULATORY: Includes APHIS, FWS, FS, ITA, NOAA and BOEM rules and notices.

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE: Notice the Secretary is soliciting nominations for membership for the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health to serve for terms of 2 years. Info here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: Notice FWS will ask the Office of Management and Budget to approve an information collection. Title: Programmatic Clearance for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Social Science Research. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE:

Rule FS proposes to amend regulations pertaining to the National Forest System Land Management Planning. Info here.

Notice Forestry Research Advisory Council will meet in Washington, DC. Details here.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION: Notice Department of Commerce is conducting an administrative review and a new shipper review of the antidumping duty order on freshwater crawfish tail meat from China. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS is transferring 125 metric tons of Atlantic bluefin tuna quota from the Reserve category to the General category for remainder of the 2016 fishing year. Details here.

Rule NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Details here.

Notice NMFS and USFWS announce the initiation of a 5-year review for the distinct population segment of North Pacific Ocean loggerhead sea turtle and our intent to draft the North Pacific loggerhead recovery plan. Info here.

OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT BUREAU: Rule clarifies language in a final rule that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published in the Federal Register on March 30, 2016. Details here.