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

ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us TOMORROW 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 food labeling, Urb & Ag, leases, and aquaculture issues.

In UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. William B. AOSSEY, Jr., Defendant-Appellant. United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Midamar Corporation, Defendant-Appellant. United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Jalel Aossey, Defendant-Appellant, No. 16-1611, No. 16-1688, No. 16-1761, 2017 WL 1363801 (8th Cir. April 14, 2017), defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes involving a scheme to sell misbranded meat and appealed. Appellate court ruled the Meat Inspection Act “did not unambiguously remove prosecution from district court’s jurisdiction.” Affirmed.

Kenneth M. SHEPHERD, et al. v. Rachelle CONDE, et al, No. 160606, 2017 WL 1366944 (Va. April 13, 2017) concerned whether an unincorporated association is a “property owners’ association” within the meaning of the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act. Defendants argued that “the interdependence of the definitions of ‘declaration,’ ‘common area,’ and ‘property owners’ association’ . . . creates ambiguity because the definition of each term incorporates both of the other two, yet taken together they are inconsistent.” Court reasoned the standard for establishing a property owners’ association is that “the declaration must impose a duty to maintain common area and authorize the imposition of assessments for the costs of such maintenance.” Court agreed with defendants and found the association does not qualify as a property owners’ association.

GOLDEN SANDS DAIRY LLC, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, ELLIS INDUSTRIES SARATOGA, LLC, PLAINTIFF, v. TOWN OF SARATOGA, TERRY A. RICKABY, DOUGLAS PASSINEAU, PATTY HEEG, JOHN FRANK AND DAN FORBES, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, RURAL MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, INTERVENOR, No. 2015AP1258, 2017 WL 1372507 (Wis. Ct. App. April 13, 2017) involved plaintiff’s attempt to develop an “integrated dairy farm” on approximately 6388 acres of land. Lower court found plaintiff had right to use the land for agricultural purposes per its building application, “even though such use conflicted with zoning enacted by the Town after [plaintiff] filed its building permit application.” Appellate court found that plaintiff “did not establish a vested right to the nonconforming agricultural use of 6388 acres.” Reversed and summary judgment entered for defendant.

SIOUX RURAL WATER SYSTEM, INC., A Non-Profit Corporation, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF WATERTOWN, a South Dakota Municipality, and WATERTOWN MUNICIPAL UTILITIES, an agency of the City of Watertown, Defendants, CIV 15-1023-CBK, 2017 WL 1372602 (D.S.C. April 12, 2017) concerned a non-profit water association formed with USDA loans. Plaintiff claimed City of Watertown annexed territory and extended water supply service to areas within plaintiff’s service territory in violation of federal law. Defendant argued plaintiff “does not have a legal right to serve customers in the disputed area,” and is unable to serve the customers at issue. Court found defendant’s argument that “state law gives it the right of first refusal to provide water service in what, prior to annexation, was Sioux’s territory is contrary to federal law.” Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment granted in part.

In JEFFREY LANCE HILL, SR., AND LINDA PETRY HILL, Appellants, v. SUWANNEE RIVER WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT, Appellee, NO. 1D16-3343, 2017 WL 1382156 (N.D. Fla. April 18, 2017), plaintiffs sued alleging that a water district’s drainage actions flooded their farm’s sixty acres and “denied them viable and beneficial use of their land” without compensation. Circuit court ruled water district “possessed quasi-judicial immunity with respect to the takings claim because its actions were taken under the authority of court orders.” Plaintiffs appealed arguing that defendant “possesses absolute quasi-judicial immunity from suit.” Appellate court observed that, “The District’s actions here, draining a pond and flooding fields, isn’t part and parcel of the judicial process, or functionally comparable to the work of judges.” Summary judgment for defendants reversed.

REGULATORY: Includes APHIS, BOC, FWS, FSIS, ITA and NOAA rules and notices.

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE: Notice APHIS seeks comment on a permit application for the field release of diamondback moths that have been genetically engineered for repressible female lethality. Info here.

CENSUS BUREAU: Rule amending the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) to reflect new export reporting requirements. Info here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: Notice FWS announces 90-day findings on two petitions to list or reclassify wildlife or plants under the Endangered Species Act. Details here.

FOOD SAFETY AND INSPECTION SERVICE: Notice FSIS will request a renewal of the approved information collection regarding poultry slaughter inspection. Details here.


Notice ITA received countervailing duty petitions concerning imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, filed in proper form on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition. Info here.

Notice that on December 15, 2016, the Department of Commerce initiated an antidumping duty investigation of certain softwood lumber products from Canada. Details here.


Rule NMFS implements accountability measures for two species groups in the exclusive economic zone of the U.S. Caribbean off Puerto Rico for the 2017 fishing year. Details here.

Rule NMFS proposes management measures for the 2017 summer flounder and scup recreational fisheries. Info here.

Notice NMFS found that the following stocks are subject to overfishing or overfished: South Atlantic golden tilefish and the Western and Central Pacific stock of Pacific bigeye tuna; South Atlantic blueline tilefish; and Pacific bluefin tuna in the North Pacific Ocean and South Atlantic red snapper. Details here.