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


ANNOUNCEMENT: Mark your calendar for the next Agricultural & Food Law Consortium webinar, Wednesday, March 21st: 2018 Farm Bill Outlook. Details available here.


JUDICIAL: Includes international trade, CWA, administrative law, and urb & ag issues.

QUIEDAN COMPANY, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES, Defendant, and REBAR TRADE ACTION COALITION, Defendant-Intervenor, Slip Op. 18-19, No. 16-00275, 2018 WL 1229850 (Ct. Intl. Trade March 9, 2018) concerned a scope ruling on Chinese-produced agricultural and horticultural stakes used to train grape vines. US Department of Commerce (Commerce) published an antidumping order on rebar from China and plaintiff filed a scope ruling request “seeking a determination from Commerce that its agricultural training stakes ‘are excluded from and/or outside the scope of’ the Order.” Plaintiff argued that his merchandise should not be included under the Order because his stakes “are not straight-length rebar, but are separate goods described as ‘merchant bar.’” Court found that Commerce’s scope determination was supported “by substantial evidence and in accordance with the law.”

IN RE: UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE and United States Environmental Protection Agency Final Rule: Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States,” 80 Fed. Reg. 37,054 (June 29, 2015), Murray Energy Corporation, et al., Petitioners, v. United States Department of Defense, Department of the Army Corps of Engineers; and United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., Respondents, Nos. 15-3751, et al., 2018 WL 1108702 (6th Cir. February 28, 2018) involved consolidated actions challenging the validity of the “Clean Water Rule.” U.S Supreme Court granted certiorari and “reversed the majority jurisdictional ruling and remanded the matter to this court with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.” Court’s order staying the Clean Water Rule nationwide was vacated and all petitioners’ challenges to the Clean Water Rule dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

In LES ANCIENS D UNE EGLISE EN LES CHAMBRES COMPAGNIE, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, Defendant, No. 2:15-CV-26-D, 2018 WL 1279288 (E.D. N.C. March 12, 2018), nonprofit organization assisting rural communities dissolved after being awarded a $75,000 grant by USDA. USDA cancelled the grant, claiming the remaining members could not “carry out the responsibilities of administering a revolving loan fund.” Plaintiff sued, challenging USDA decision to cancel the grant. Court considered evidence of plaintiff organization’s activities by remaining members after its dissolution, including “suspicious” documents and concluded USDA’s cancellation of the grant was not arbitrary and capricious. Motion to dismiss granted.

In Wilma Jean KELLOGG, Appellant, v. CITY OF ALBIA, Iowa, Appellee, No. 15-2143, 2018 WL 1224514 (Iowa March 9, 2018), homeowner sued City and claimed “reoccurring flooding in the basement of her home due to the discharge of rainwater from storm sewer constituted a nuisance and that city was negligent in installing storm sewer pipe.” District court granted summary judgment for City and appellate court reversed. City appealed to State Supreme Court. Court observed that plaintiff “did not offer any evidence that the City’s storm sewer system was inherently dangerous beyond the dangers associated with failing to upgrade the pipe to accommodate the increased water flow.” Supreme Court also considered the issue of immunity under the Iowa Municipal Tort Claims Act, and affirmed district court judgment after city showed that “conduct immunized under statute was the conduct supporting nuisance claim.”


LEGISLATIVE:

S. 2278: State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization Act of 2018. Text for status Reported by Senate Committee (Mar 12, 2018) is now available.

S. 2539: A bill to amend the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015, to reauthorize certain projects to increase Colorado River System water. Referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 2540: A bill to provide predictability and certainty in the tax law, create jobs, and encourage investment. Referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

H.R. 5250: To reauthorize the Rural Economic Area Partnership Zones Program through fiscal year 2023. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.

H.R. 5248: To amend and enhance the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act to improve the conservation of sharks. Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R. 5259: To amend the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 to reauthorize the farm and ranch stress assistance network. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.

H.R. 5264: To direct the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, provide grants to States to facilitate the acquisition of land, water, and interests therein. Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

H.R. 5262: To redesignate the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area as the Maurice D. Hinchey Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and for other purposes. Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

H.R. 1800: To direct the Secretary of Agriculture to transfer certain Federal land to facilitate scientific research supporting Federal space and defense programs. Passed in the House on March 13, 2018.

H.R. 3469: To designate the bridge located in Blount County, Tennessee, on the Foothills Parkway as the “Dean Stone Bridge”. Passed in the House on March 13, 2018 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

H.R. 4266: Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act. Passed in the House on March 13, 2018 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

H.R. 1350: To modify the boundary of Voyageurs National Park in the State of Minnesota. Passed in the House on March 13, 2018 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

H.R. 4465: Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act of 2017. Passed in the House on March 13, 2018 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.


REGULATORY: Includes USDA, APHIS, EPA, FWS, FS, NOAA and RUS rules and notices. 

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT:

Notice USDA has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: Volunteer Application and Agreement for Natural and Cultural Resource Agencies. Info here.

Notice USDA proposes a new Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) system of records entitled: USDA/FSIS-0004, Public Health Information System (PHIS). Info here.

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE:

Rule APHIS is amending the regulations governing the importation of plants for planting by authorizing the importation of Campanula spp. plants for planting from Denmark in approved growing media into the United States, subject to a systems approach. Details here.

Notice APHIS will request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the control of chronic wasting disease in farmed or captive cervid herds. Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule EPA is taking final action to reaffirm and reapprove a negative declaration for existing hospital/medical/infectious waste incinerator (HMIWI) units within the City of Philadelphia. Info here.

Rule EPA is taking final action to notify the public that it has received a negative declaration for sewage sludge incineration (SSI) units within the City of Philadelphia. Info here.

Rule establishes a tolerance for residues of trinexapac-ethyl in or on poppy, seed. Info here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: Rule FWS withdraws proposed rule to list Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina (San Fernando Valley spineflower), a plant from southern California, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE: Notice the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (Council) will meet via teleconference. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska. Info here.

Rule NMFS is reducing the Atlantic herring possession limit for federally permitted vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear in the Mid-Atlantic/Southern New England Catch Cap Closure Area, based on a projection that the threshold catch for the corresponding catch cap area has been reached. Details here.

Rule NMFS proposes to approve and implement the measures the portion of Framework Adjustment 29 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan that establishes scallop specifications and other measures for fishing years 2018 and 2019. Info here.

Notice NMFS has received twelve scientific research permit application requests relating to Pacific salmon, steelhead, eulachon, and green sturgeon. Details here.

RURAL UTILITIES SERVICE: Notice RUS announces its Community Connect Grant Program application window for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Info here.