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


JUDICIAL: Includes nutrition programs, environmental, climate change, and food labeling issues.

In J & L LIQUOR, INC., Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES of America, Defendant, No. 16-10717, 2017 WL 4310109 (E.D. Mich. September 29, 2017), the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) found that plaintiff trafficked in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and permanently disqualified him from participating in the program. Plaintiff ran a liquor store and appealed the agency’s findings, asserting that it “conducted its own investigation into the transactions and found no SNAP violations, and that FNS’s speculative findings were specious.” Court reasoned that plaintiff’s explanations for “multiple transactions in short time frames and the excessively large transactions cite no specific examples, provide no data, and do not attempt to account for the specific transactions identified by FNS.” Summary judgment granted for defendant.

In JARITA MESA LIVESTOCK GRAZING ASSOCIATION; ALAMOSA LIVESTOCK GRAZING ASSOCIATION; SEBEDEO CHACON; THOMAS GRIEGO; DONALD GRIEGO; MICHAEL PENA; JUAN GIRON; JOE GURULE, JR.; FERNANDO GURULE; DIEGO JARAMILLO; LORENZO JARAMILLO; GABRIEL ALDAZ; ARTURO RODARTE; JEFFREY CHACON; GLORIA VALDEZ; JERRY VASQUEZ; CARLOS ORTEGA; LEON ORTEGA; HORACIO MARTINEZ; RONALD MARTINEZ; STEVE CHAVEZ; VANGIE CHAVEZ; ALFONSO CHACON; DANIEL RAEL; JOHN VALDEZ and BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF THE COUNTY OF RIO ARRIBA, Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE and DIANA TRUJILLO, in her official and individual capacities, Defendants, No. CIV 12-0069 JB/KBM, 2017 WL 4621600 (D.N.M. October 13, 2017), the Forest Service (FS) intended to reduce some grazing permits and issue was whether the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the FS to consider the “social and economic impacts of a proposed action” before implementing it. Here, FS decided to reduce grazing permits for the Alamosa and Jarita Mesa Grazing Districts before considering an Environmental Assessment. Court found that NEPA requires agencies to consider the “environmental impacts of agency action.” However, the court noted that NEPA does not require agencies to “consider social and economic impacts that flow directly from an action and not from the action’s effect on the physical environment.” Court concluded that “[b]ecause the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants failed to consider an agency action’s direct social and economic impacts . . . the Plaintiffs’ allegations do not amount to a NEPA violation.”

In RESOLUTE FOREST PRODUCTS, INC., ET AL., Plaintiffs, v. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL, ET AL., Defendants, No. 17-cv-02824-JST, 2017 WL 4618676 (N.D. Cal. October 16, 2017), plaintiff alleged defendant targeted its forestry company with media campaigns “designed to reduce [plaintiff’s] profits through false or misleading statements about the company’s impacts on the environment and on indigenous communities.” Defendants moved to dismiss arguing that their conduct “consists of speech and other advocacy that is protected by the First Amendment.” Court concluded plaintiff is a “limited public figure for the purposes of the claims involved in this case,” and reasoned that “the company must show that the Defendants’ speech and related actions were made with actual malice.” Court considered California’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute and concluded defendants’ actions were “issues of public interest for the purposes of California’s anti-SLAPP statute.” Defendants’ motion to dismiss granted.

Dale SABO, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. WELLPET, LLC, Defendant, No. 16 C 8550, 2017 WL 4563862 (N.D. Ill. October 10, 2017)involved a class action claim alleging consumer fraud based on defendant’s “deceptive” labeling of its pet food products as “Made in the USA.” Plaintiff’s first complaint was dismissed for failing to allege actual damages. Here, court noted that Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (ICFA) claims alleging fraud require heightened pleading standards. Court was not persuaded by plaintiff’s claims and concluded that  “the inference that plaintiff spent more on defendants’ products because he believed they were American made than he would have spent otherwise requires more than unsubstantiated allegations about the products’ ‘worth’ and the statement that plaintiff would not have bought the products . . . in the absence of the alleged fraud.” Defendant’s motion to dismiss granted.


LEGISLATIVE:

S. 1959: A bill to designate certain Federal land in the State of California as wilderness. Bill referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 1966: A bill to amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to modify the regional conservation partnership program. Bill referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

S. 1975: A bill to designate additions to the Rich Hole Wilderness and the Rough Mountain Wilderness of the George Washington National Forest. Bill referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

H.R. 4072: To designate certain Federal land in the State of California as wilderness. Bill referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.


REGULATORY: Includes USDA, EPA, and NOAA rules and notices.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Notice USDA submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Disposal of Mineral Materials. Details here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Rule EPA is promulgating significant new use rules (SNURs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for 29 chemical substances which were the subject of premanufacture notices. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS is prohibiting retention of shortraker rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska. Info here.

Rule announces inseason changes to management measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. Details here.

Rule NMFS publishes a proposed Annual Determination (AD) for 2018, pursuant to its authority under the Endangered Species Act. Details here.

Notice Department of Commerce invites the general public and other Federal agencies to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. Title: Protocol for Access to Tissue Specimen Samples From the National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank. Details here.

Notice NMFS has received a request from the United States Department of the Navy (Navy) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to Ice Exercise 2018 (ICEX18) activities proposed within the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Info here.