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


ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us Wednesday, November 1st, at 12 noon (ET) for an Agricultural & Food Law Consortium webinar: “From Farm Fields to the Courthouse: Legal Issues Surrounding Pesticide Use.” Details available here.


JUDICIAL: includes animal welfare, crop insurance, bankruptcy, and PACA issues.

In ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, v. BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN AND RICHARD R. LANE, RESPONDENTS-RESPONDENTS, Appeal No. 2016AP869, 2017 WL 4750694 (Wis. Ct. App. October 19, 2017), plaintiff appealed dismissal of their suit compelling the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin to grant them access to documents withheld following an open records request by plaintiff. The documents sought were created by employees of the University of Wisconsin’s Animal Care and Use Committee during a meeting. Lower court ruled the documents are not “record[s]” under Wisconsin’s public records law because the notes were “prepared for the originator’s personal use. Appellate court reversed, finding the documents “were not excepted from the definition of ‘record[s].’”

In RONALD G. DRIVER, Plaintiff, v. PRO AG MANAGEMENT, INC., d/b/a PRODUCERS AG INS – LEXINGTON and ARMTECH INSURANCE SERVICES, INC. Defendant, No. 3:16-cv-01959, 2017 WL 4682482 (M.D. Tenn. October 18, 2017), a soybean and tobacco farmer had crop insurance policy and was overpaid. He delayed paying the difference and was ruled ineligible for benefits because of the delinquent debt. He sued, arguing that defendants never advised him of the policy that insurance providers “could reinstate a policy if the insured demonstrated that the ineligibility was due to the failure to pay a delinquent debt owed to” an insurance company. Court noted that under the Federal Arbitration Act, “[t]here is a strong presumption in favor of arbitration,” and that “the central purpose of the Federal Arbitration Act [is] to ensure ‘that private agreements to arbitrate are enforced according to their terms.’” Plaintiff’s motion to compel arbitration granted.

In FARMER’S AND MINER’S BANK, Plaintiff, v. TERRY LEE, EASTERN KENTUCKY MINING, INC., and KEY-WAY, LLC, Defendants, No. 6:15-CV-64-HAI, 2017 WL 4707457 (E.D. Ky. October 19, 2017), plaintiff sued claiming defendant did not have a valid lien on a wheel loader and “that Plaintiff’s security interest in the Caterpillar 988G is superior to Defendants’ lien, and that therefore it is entitled to possession.” Defendants claimed to hold “a valid lien on the tractor in the amount of $34,303.46, representing storage, transportation, and repair costs; that their lien is prior and superior to Plaintiff’s security interest.” Court examined the evidence and determined defendants could not dispute priority of plaintiff’s lien. Court further noted that, “Even if Defendants obtained a lien, they did not file it prior to Plaintiff’s Financing Statement and there is no genuine dispute of material fact.” Summary judgment for plaintiff.

In IN RE: Joseph T. GUARRACINO and Yvette L. Guarracino, Joint–Debtors, Alliance Shippers, Inc., Plaintiff, v. Joseph T. Guarracino, Defendant, NO.: 14–30441 (SLM), 2017 WL 4676241 (D.N.J. October 16, 2017), plaintiff sued as an assignee of a debt arising from a statutory trust, under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). Defendant countered that plaintiff lacked standing as a creditor or as a PACA trust beneficiary to collect any debt from defendant. Defendant purchased fruit from a wholesaler that eventually went bankrupt. Bankrupt wholesaler was owed money by defendant and assigned those rights to plaintiff. Court noted that defendant admitted to violating PACA by utilizing sale proceeds to pay for other business expenses and reasoned that “his actions were in reckless disregard of his fiduciary obligations.” Judgment for plaintiff.


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

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE: Rule implements a recommendation from the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (Committee) for a decrease in the assessment rate established for the 2017-18 and subsequent production years from $0.0010 to $0.0001 per pound of assessed weight pistachios handled under the marketing order. Info here.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT:

Notice USDA will submit the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Honey and Honey Bee Surveys. Details here.

Notice USDA will submit the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Plan for Estimating Daily Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection. Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Rule EPA is taking direct final action to approve a revision to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s state implementation plan. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS announces the re-opening of the commercial sector for blueline tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic through this temporary rule. Info here.

Rule NMFS announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates up to 1,000 metric tons (t) of the 2017 bigeye tuna limit for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to identified U.S. longline fishing vessels. Info here.

Rule NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Amendment 41 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper FMP), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Details here.

Notice the Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information. Title: Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program. Info here.

Notice the Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information. Title: Gulf of Alaska Catcher Vessel & Processor Trawl (CVPT) Economic Data Report (EDR). Details here.

Notice requesting extension of a currently approved information collection. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) needs economic data on all harvesters, first receivers, shorebased processors, catcher processors, and motherships participating in the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery. Info here.