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


JUDICIAL: Includes state meat labeling laws

In Turtle Island Foods, SPC v. Thompson, No. 19-3154, 2021 WL 1165406 (8th Cir. Mar. 29, 2021) the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed a lower court’s denial of preliminary injunction in a case challenging a Missouri state law which prohibits “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” The Eighth Circuit ultimately affirmed the lower court’s decision not to grant a preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs in this case are challenging the Missouri law by arguing that the law was only passed to protect Missouri’s animal agriculture industry against competition from the plant-based-meat industry. Specifically, the plaintiffs argue that the law violates the First Amendment and the Dormant Commerce Clause. The plaintiffs have asked for a preliminary injunction to be issued which would prevent the law from having legal effect while the case is litigated.

Generally, a preliminary injunction will not be granted unless the plaintiff is able to show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims. In other words, the plaintiffs in this case could only persuade a court to grant a preliminary injunction if they showed that they were likely to win their case based on their constitutional law claims. In arguing that a preliminary injunction was warranted, the plaintiffs asserted that they were likely to prevail on their First Amendment claim. The lower court disagree, concluding that the plaintiffs were not likely to win on their First Amendment claim because the statute did not prohibit their protected commercial speech. The Eighth Circuit agreed. According to the court, the plaintiffs were not likely to prevail on their First Amendment claim because their intended speech – labeling language which would identify the plaintiffs’ products as “vegetarian,” and “all-vegan” – would not fall within the scope of the Missouri statute. Therefore, the Eighth Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision to deny preliminary injunction.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Temporary rule prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, by non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska. Info here.

Final rule delaying the effective date of a final rule that published on December 20, 2019 that amends the alternative tow time restriction to require all skimmer trawl vessels 40 feet and greater in length to use turtle excluder devices designed to exclude small sea turtles in their nets, and that rule had an effective date of April 1, 2021 (84 FR 70048). Info here.

Proposed rule to approve sector operations plans and contracts, and grant regulatory exemptions for fishing years 2021 and 2022, provide preliminary Northeast multispecies annual catch entitlements to approved sectors for fishing year 2021, amend regulations required to administer electronic monitoring, and announce 2021 default specifications for seven Northeast multispecies stocks. Info here.