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


JUDICIAL: Includes ag leases, water law, and CWA issues.

In EMERICK FARMS, a General Partnership; Fayette Farms, a General Partnership; and Benjamin Emerick, Individually, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. James E. MARLEN and Joann Marlen, Individually, and James E. Marlen, as Trustee of the James E. Marlen and JoAnn Marlen Declaration of Trust Dated January 27, 2010, Defendants-Appellants, NO. 5-16-0260, 2017 IL App (5th) 160260-U (Ill. App. Ct. May 2, 2017), plaintiffs sued defendants (trustee) for breaching oral agreements to lease lands to plaintiffs for farming. Circuit court ruled defendants breached lease agreements and entered judgment for plaintiffs for $264,830.80. Appellate court reversed, finding that the circuit court “improperly invoked the doctrine of partial performance to sustain the plaintiffs’ action at law for money damages for breach of an oral contract.” The court also concluded “plaintiffs’ breach of oral contract actions . . . were barred by the statute of frauds and should have been dismissed on the defendants’ motion.” Case reversed and remanded.

CITY OF PEORIA, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. PEORIA AREA ADVANCEMENT GROUP, LLC, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, No. 3-16-0216, 2017 IL App (3d) 160216-U (Ill. App. Ct. May 2, 2017) concerned an agreement wherein defendant agreed to loan plaintiff (City) $1 million to consider purchasing assets related to the operation of a waterworks facility. City breached a later agreement with defendant by failing to complete required due diligence tasks, but argued the agreement was “void as a matter of law due to the requirements of the prior appropriation rule.” Court observed that, “The purpose of the prior appropriation rule is to protect the municipal treasury against incurring liabilities that exceed an appropriation or for which no appropriation has been made.” Regarding prior appropriation, the court concluded “the plain language of the 2005 agreement itself does not require the City to make any payments. Without a required payment, a prior appropriation is not necessary to validate a contract with a municipality.” Appellate court affirmed order “partially granting [defendant’s] motion for summary judgment.”

In SUNCOAST WATERKEEPER, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF GULFPORT, Defendant, NO. 8:17-cv-35-T-24 MAP, 2017 WL 1632984 (M.D. Fla. May 1, 2017), plaintiffs sued alleging defendant violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by repeatedly spilling “raw and partially treated sewage” from its wastewater collection system “through a series of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).” Defendant argued plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed because “they have failed to allege an actual injury that is fairly traceable to Defendant’s conduct.” Court noted, “The U.S. Supreme Court has held that, in establishing standing, environmental plaintiffs adequately allege injury in fact when they aver that they use the affected area and are persons ‘for whom the aesthetic and recreational values of the area will be lessened’ by the challenged activity.” Court reasoned plaintiffs’ allegations “meet the requisite standard of attesting that their members do use, and would more frequently use, their local waterways if not for Defendant’s alleged SSOs into those waterways.” Defendant’s motion to dismiss denied.


LEGISLATIVE: 

S. 35: Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 99: James K. Polk Presidential Home Study Act. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 189: Fort Scott National Historic Site Boundary Modification Act. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 287: A bill to update the map of, and modify the maximum acreage available for inclusion in, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 331: A bill to remove the use restrictions on certain land transferred to Rockingham County, Virginia, and for other purposes. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 432: Cerros del Norte Conservation Act. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 466: A bill to clarify the description of certain Federal land under the Northern Arizona Land Exchange and Verde River Basin Partnership Act of 2005 to include additional land in the Kaibab National Forest. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 501: East Rosebud Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This bill’s text for status Reported by Senate Committee (May 3, 2017) is now available.

S. 1059: A bill to extend the authorization of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 relating to the disposal site in Mesa County, Colorado. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

S. 1046: A bill to facilitate certain pinyon-juniper related projects in Lincoln County, Nevada, to modify the boundaries of certain wilderness areas in the State of Nevada. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

S. 1041: A bill to include the State of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico outer Continental Shelf revenue sharing program, to extend the moratorium on oil and gas leasing in certain areas of the Gulf of Mexico, and for other purposes. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

S. 1053: A bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to issue new resource management plans applicable to the Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area and the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and a new amendment to the St. George Field Office. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

H.R. 2374: To facilitate certain pinyon-juniper related projects in Lincoln County, Nevada, to modify the boundaries of certain wilderness areas in the State of Nevada. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the House floor for consideration.

H.R. 2365: To convey certain Federal land in California to Apple Valley, California, Twentynine Palms, California, Barstow, California, and Victorville, California. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the House floor for consideration.


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

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Notice USDA submitted information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review. Title: State Meat and Poultry Inspection Programs. Details here.

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE: Notice APHIS will request reinstatement of an information collection to support the National Animal Health Monitoring System’s Beef 2017 Study. Info here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: Notice FWS received an application from the Scotts Valley Middle School for a 10-year incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act. Details here.

FOREST SERVICE: Notice FS advises public that the Coronado National Forest Supervisor is expected to sign the Record of Decision for the Rosemont Copper Project. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Rule NMFS reopens the commercial sector for king mackerel in the western and northern zones, and the run-around gillnet component in the southern zone of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone. Details here.

Rule NMFS implements an accountability measure for the commercial longline component for golden tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. Info here.

Rule NMFS issues this final rule for the 2017 Pacific whiting fishery under the authority of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the Pacific Whiting Act. Info here.

Notice NMFS determined that an Exempted Fishing Permit application contains all of the required information. Info here.

Notice NMFS determined that an Exempted Fishing Permit application from the University of Rhode Island to conduct flatfish bycatch reduction in the limited access general category scallop fishery contains all of the required information. Details here.