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

ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us Thursday, April 20, at 12 noon (ET) for an Agricultural & Food Law Consortium webinar: Ag Taxation & Reform 101:  What You Need to Know. Details available here.

JUDICIAL: Includes landowner liability, Urb & Ag, biotechnology, and alternative dispute resolution issues.

In ALAN BUGAI and JUDITH BUGAI, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. WARD LAKE ENERGY, Defendant-Appellant, No. 331551, 2017 WL 1337476 (Mich. Ct. App. April 11, 2017), plaintiff was injured while snowmobiling and alleged that a plowed road “was not visible and that defendant breached a duty owed to snowmobilers by failing to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition or warn snowmobilers of the danger posed by the plowed road bisecting the snowmobile trail.” Defendant argued claims were barred under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) and the Recreational Land Use Act (RUA). Court found plaintiff’s claim “was barred by the RUA because he was engaged in an enumerated recreational use of defendant’s land when he was injured.” Summary judgment for defendant.

In In the Matter of ALPER RESTAURANT INC., Also Known as Swiss Hutte et al., Appellants, v. TOWN OF COPAKE PLANNING BOARD et al., Respondents, et al., Respondent, 2017 WL 1347786 (N.Y. April 13, 2017), a planning board granted developers applications for subdivision and site plan approval and petitioners, who own and operate an inn and restaurant on property adjacent to the proposed resort hotel, challenged the Planning Board’s issuance of a negative declaration and site plan and subdivision approval. State Supreme Court ruled suit was time-barred and petitioners “failed to establish that the doctrine of equitable estoppel applied.” On appeal, plaintiffs argued that any “delay in commencing this proceeding was a result of a misrepresentation by the Planning Board.” Appellate court agreed with court’s finding that “the Planning Board’s erroneous statement does not rise to the level necessary to implicate the exception where estoppel may be invoked against a [municipality].” Affirmed for defendants.

In UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, Plaintiff-Appellee v. MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN E.V., a corporation organized under the laws of Germany, Max-Planck-Innovation GmbH, a corporation organized under the laws of Germany, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, a Delaware corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Massachusetts corporation, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Delaware corporation, Robert L. Caret, President of the University of Massachusetts in his official capacity, James R. Julian, Jr., Christine M. Wilda, Senior Vice President for Administration & Finance and University Treasurer of the University of Massachusetts, in his official capacity, James P. McNamara, Executive Director, Office of Technology Management of the University of Massachusetts, in his official capacity, their predecessors and successors in office, Defendants-Appellants, University of Massachusetts, a Massachusetts corporation, David J. Gray, Defendants, 2016-1336, 851 F.3d 1317 (Fed. Cir. March 23, 2017), a university sued other research institutions alleging that professor at university “should have been named joint inventor of family of patents for inhibiting gene expression.” Summary judgment granted for defendants, but they were not awarded attorney fees and appealed on that issue. Appellate court ruled district court “did not abuse its discretion in determining that university’s action was not exceptional case warranting attorney fee award.”

In ALIMENTS KRISPY KERNELS, INC., Appellant v. NICHOLS FARMS a/k/a Nichols Family Farms a/k/a Nichols Pistachios, No. 16-1975, 851 F.3d 283 (3rd Cir. March 21, 2017), plaintiff, a “snack purveyor,” sued to enforce arbitration award it received against a pistachio grower in a contract dispute. Claiming the parties never agreed to arbitrate, defendant did not attend the arbitration. Plaintiff filed a petition to confirm the arbitration award and defendant moved to vacate. District court ruled for plaintiff, but appellate court found that “an issue of material fact exists as to whether the parties agreed to arbitrate.” Ruling reversed and case remanded.

REGULATORY: Includes USDA, Commerce, NOAA and NTIA rules and notices.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Notice USDA has submitted information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Guaranteed Farm Loans. Details here.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT: Notice Commerce Department seeks comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. Title: The Environmental Questionnaire and Checklist. Info here.


Rule NMFS proposes revised black sea bass specifications for the 2017 fishing year and projected specifications for 2018. Info here.

Notice NOAA seeks a renewal with revisions to the existing reporting requirements approved under OMB Control Number 0648-0205, Southeast Region Permit Family of Forms. Details here.

Notice the Deepwater Horizon Federal and State natural resource trustee agencies for the Alabama Trustee Implementation Group prepared a Final Restoration Plan I and Environmental Impact Statement: Provide and Enhance Recreational Opportunities. Info here.

Notice the Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has made a preliminary determination that an Exempted Fishing Permit application contains all required information. Info here.

NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION: Notice NTIA will convene a meeting of a multistakeholder process on Internet of Things Security Upgradability and Patching on April 26, 2016. Info here.