JUDICIAL:
ORGANIC TRADE ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT, OF AGRICULTURE, et al., Defendants., No. CV 17-1875 (RMC), 2019 WL 954774 (D.D.C. Feb. 27, 2019):
On January 19, 2017, the last day of the administration of former President Barack Obama, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the final Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (Final OLPP Rule), which made more stringent the regulations that govern the certification of livestock as “organic” by USDA. On January 20, 2017, the first day of the administration of President Donald Trump, the White House directed executive agencies to delay implementation of all pending regulations that had not yet become effective, which included the Final OLPP Rule. USDA thereafter issued “Delay Rules” in February, May, and November 2017, each further delaying the effective date of the Final OLPP Rule. Eventually, on March 13, 2018, USDA formally withdrew the Final OLPP Rule.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) challenged the delays to the effective date of the Final OLPP Rule in September 2017, while the November Delay Rule was open for public comment and not yet finalized. Between then and now, the Complaint has twice been amended and now also includes a challenge to the withdrawal of the rule. The government moves to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. OTA opposes. Having studied the parties’ briefs, the Court finds OTA has standing to sue but will dismiss its challenge to the Delay Rules.
STEVE BULLOCK, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR OF MONTANA; MARTHA WILLIAMS, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS, Petitioners, v. TIMOTHY C. FOX, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MONTANA, Respondent., 2019 MT 50:

Petitioners Steve Bullock, in his official capacity as Governor of Montana, and Martha Williams, in her official capacity as Director of the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, invoke this Court’s original jurisdiction to declare whether Montana law requires FWP to bring conservation easement transactions of more than 100 acres or $100,000 in value before the Board of Land Commissioners for final approval.
The court restates the issues as follows:
1. Whether the Governor and FWP Director have standing within prudential limits.
2. Whether “land acquisition” per § 87-1-209(1), MCA, requires FWP to bring conservation easement transactions of more than 100 acres or $100,000 in value before the Land Board for final approval.
This Court assumes original jurisdiction over the issue presented and finds the issue presented justiciable. The Governor and FWP Director have standing within prudential limits to petition this Court. The Court is well within the sphere of its constitutional authority to interpret the statutory meaning of § 87-1-209(1), MCA. The plain and ordinary meaning of “land acquisition” does not encompass conservation easement acquisition, and § 87-1-209(1), MCA, does not require FWP to finalize its conservation easementtransactions with the Land Board.

REGULATORY:
Final rule: Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA; This final rule adds four flexibilities to the hiring standards for new school nutrition program directors in small local educational agencies (LEAs) and new State directors of school nutrition programs under the Professional Standards regulations for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. First, to address hiring challenges faced by small LEAs, which are those with 2,499 or fewer students, this rule requires relevant food service experience rather than school nutrition program experience for new school nutrition program directors. Second, it provides State agencies with discretion to consider documented volunteer or unpaid work as relevant experience for new school nutrition program directors in LEAs with 2,499 or fewer students. Third, it gives State agencies discretion to accept less than the required years of food service experience when an applicant for a new director position in an LEA with fewer than 500 students has the minimum required education. Lastly, this rule adds flexibility to the hiring standards for State directors of school nutrition programs by allowing State agencies to consider applicants with either a bachelor’s or advanced degree in specified fields. These changes are expected to expand the pool of candidates qualified to serve as leaders in the school nutrition programs while continuing to ensure that school nutrition professionals are able to perform their duties effectively and efficiently. Info HERE

Notice: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA; The Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has determined the suspension of the assessment of fees for supervision of official inspection and weighing services performed by delegated States and/or designated agencies under the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) will continue through December 31, 2020. Info HERE

Final rule: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. This final rule reauthorizes the Dairy Forward Pricing Program (DFPP) in accordance with the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). Establishing new contracts under the DFPP has been prohibited since the expiration of the program on September 30, 2018. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized the program to allow handlers to enter into new contracts until September 30, 2023. Any forward contract entered prior to the September 30, 2023, deadline is subject to a September 30, 2026, expiration date. Info HERE

Notice and request for comments: National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the intention of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to seek reinstatement of the 2019 Organic Survey. Response to this survey will be mandatory. Info HERE

Notice and request for comments: National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA; In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the intention of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to seek reinstatement of an information collection, the Census of Horticultural Specialties. Response to this survey will be mandatory. Info HERE

Notice of public meetings: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, published a notice of availability, public meetings, and Section 106 notification on December 7, 2018 (83 FR 63149Federal Register for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345-kV Transmission Line Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Meetings were scheduled for January 2019 and the public review period was to conclude on February 5, 2019.

On February 12, 2019 (84 FR 3412), RUS published a notice announcing an extension of the public comment period to April 1, 2019 due to the lapse in federal funding. Previously cancelled Draft EIS public comment meetings in January 2019 are rescheduled for six days in March. Info HERE