A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions to: camarigg at uark.edu

JUDICIAL: Includes international trade, secured transactions, and environmental issues.

Pablo Calderon, Plaintiff, v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Defendant, No. 14–cv–0425 (TSC), 2017 WL 680367 (D.D.C. Feb. 21, 2017) involved a FOIA request for financial documents submitted to Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) under its Export Credit Guarantee Program. Plaintiff argued the transactions involving documents he requested did not involve the export of agricultural commodities, but were “structured trade finance” transactions. FAS invoked FOIA “Exemption 6” to redact the names, signatures, business addresses, business telephone numbers, and business e-mail addresses of individuals in the documents. Exemption 6 protects from disclosure “personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Plaintiff alleged the purpose of his FOIA request was to reveal that “FAS has been permitting—if not fostering—a practice that the U.S. Attorneys [sic] Office considers to be criminal.” Court found “no logical connection” between the e-mail addresses, signatures, and phone numbers of employees at entities involved in the transactions at issue. Court ordered FAS to disclose individual names and business addresses only.

IN RE: BOBBY KEITH ADKINS, Debtor. QUALITY CAR AND TRUCK LEASING, INC., Plaintiff, v. BOBBY KEITH ADKINS, Defendant, NO. 2:14-ap-2082, 2017 WL 663195 (Bankr. S.D.W. Va. Feb. 15, 2017) involved a Chapter 7 bankruptcy wherein the debtor used plaintiff’s money to purchase farm equipment which became collateral for the loans. Debtor defaulted and some of the collateral was sold without plaintiff’s knowledge, and funds were diverted from plaintiff to debtor’s son. Court observed that, “In selling [plaintiff’s] collateral without its knowledge at auction and in random sales, Mr. Adkins demonstrably acted with substantial certainty that he was causing harm to Quality Car.” Court ruled that debtor “caused an injury to Quality Car and, in doing so, acted both willfully and maliciously.” Debt owed to plaintiff deemed nondischargeable.

Fisheries Survival Fund, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Sally Jewell, et al., Defendants, No. 16–cv–2409 (TSC), 2017 WL 629246 (D.D.C. Feb. 15, 2017) involved the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) plan to lease an area off the coast of New York for the development of a wind energy facility. Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction, challenging BOEM’s failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) before issuing the lease. Court reasoned that plaintiffs needed to establish  ‘irreparable harm” warranting an injunction. Specifically, “To establish irreparable harm under a NEPA claim, Plaintiffs must allege some concrete injury beyond the procedural injury caused by BOEM’s alleged failure to comply with NEPA when it conducted its environmental assessment.” Plaintiff argued that once a lease is issued, the wind energy company “will have made a significant financial investment in the development of a wind facility and will have attained some ‘property rights’ in the ocean area.” Court not persuaded and denied plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

REGULATORY: Includes AMS, USDA, and FS notices.

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICENotice AMS is reopening the comment period on the proposed rule to change the reporting of export certificate information under regulations issued pursuant to the Export Apple Act and the Export Grape and Plum Act. Details here.

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Notice USDA will submit information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Cotton Classing, Testing, and Standards. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE: Notice FS seeks comments on the revised information collection, Federal Excess Personal Property and Firefighter Property Program Administration. Details here.