A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.
JUDICIAL: Includes animal welfare, meat inspection, PPIA, and APA
In Animal Welfare Inst. v. Vilsack, No. 20-CV-6595 (W.D. N.Y. Oct. 31, 2022), the plaintiffs brought suit over the defendants’ denial of rulemaking petitions submitted by the plaintiffs in 2013 and 2016. The court concluded that the defendants did not abuse their discretion or reach a decision not in accordance with the law in denying the plaintiffs’ petition.
The Poultry Products Inspection Act (“PPIA”) requires the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) to inspect all domesticated birds that are slaughtered and marketed for human consumption. One of the stated purposes of the PPIA is to “provide for the inspection of poultry and poultry products and otherwise regulate the processing and distribution of such articles[.]” In 2013, the plaintiffs submitted a petition to USDA asking it to adopt regulations under the PPIA which would limit “acts of abuse and cruelty” at poultry processing facilities. In 2016, plaintiffs submitted a letter to USDA urging the Department to revise their PPIA regulations to prohibit the “abandonment of birds at poultry establishments.” USDA acknowledged receipt of both petitions, and in 2019 formally denied them both. According to USDA, the petitions were denied because the PPIA does not grant the Department authority to “prescribe requirements for the humane handling of live birds at slaughter.” In response, the plaintiffs filed this suit claiming that USDA had violated the law by arbitrarily denying their petitions. The court disagreed. It noted that the Supreme Court has found that federal agencies have broad discretion to determine how best to carry out their delegated responsibilities. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, a court may only set aside an agency decision if it is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law[.]” Here, the court found that USDA’s denial of the plaintiffs’ petitions was lawful because USDA rightly noted that the PPIA does not provide express statutory authority to mandate the humane treatment of animals. Therefore, the court ruled in favor of the defendants and has ordered the case to be closed.
REGULATORY: Includes FWS, NOAA
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
Notice announcing that FWS has received applications for permits to conduct activities intended to enhance the propagation or survival of endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Info here.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
Final rule implementing specifications for the 2022 and 2023 blueline tilefish fishery north of the North Carolina/Virginia border and projected specifications for 2024. This action is necessary to establish allowable harvest levels and other management measures to prevent overfishing while allowing optimum yield, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan. Info here.