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 animal cruelty, workers’ compensation, intellectual property, and PACA issues.

In Com. v. Waller, 90 Mass. App. Ct. 295, 58 N.E.3d 1070 (2016), defendant was convicted under animal cruelty statute for starving her dog to death. Court affirmed finding of guilt as defendant’s probation prohibited her from owning “any pet or animal of any kind.” The court noted, however, that “the condition of probation requiring the defendant to submit to suspicionless inspections of her home requires modification.” Case remanded on that issue.

Gabriel v. Johnston’s L.P. Gas Serv., Inc., No. CA15-01542, 2016 WL 5857339 (N.Y. App. Div. Oct. 7, 2016) concerned undocumented farm workers seeking damages for injuries sustained when their living quarters exploded. Defendant-third-party plaintiff supplied propane gas to the farm and filed a third-party action against owners of the farm and plaintiffs’ employers, seeking contribution or indemnification. Defendant farm owners documented they were plaintiffs’ employers and provided workers’ compensation benefits, and proved plaintiff did not suffer “grave injury.” Court found farm owners not liable “for contribution or indemnity to any third person based upon liability for injuries sustained by an employee acting within the scope of his or her employment.”

In McDonald Apiary, LLC v. Starrh Bees, Inc., No. 8:14-CV-351, 2016 WL 5921069 (D. Neb. Oct. 10, 2016), plaintiff agreed defendant would deliver 6,000 beehives to Oklahoma and Nebraska. Parties agreed to share transportation costs, and plaintiff would extract honey and the parties would split proceeds. Plaintiff claimed defendant violated the Nebraska Trade Secrets Act by misappropriating plaintiff’s database. Defendant sought summary judgment, arguing the database was not a “trade secret” because it was “ascertainable by proper means, and was not the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.” The court noted that “if an alleged trade secret is ascertainable at all by any means that are not improper, the would-be secret is excluded from coverage under the Act.” Court found that a jury might conclude defendant obtained information under “false pretenses” or used information “knowing it was mistakenly provided.” Defendant’s motion denied.

Cass River Farms, LLC v. Hausbeck Pickle Co., No. 16-CV-12269, 2016 WL 5930493 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 12, 2016) involved a contract dispute over shipments of jalapeño peppers. Plaintiff claimed defendants’ rejection of delivery and underpayment violated Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). Defendant argued plaintiff’s claims could be resolved in pending state court action. Court found the state court action and federal court action “parallel” as both involved a state law contract dispute. Court observed, “However, the fact that Congress explicitly provided for federal jurisdiction for the PACA claims indicates that Congress believed it was important that PACA claimants have access to a federal forum. Thus, although the presence of concurrent state court jurisdiction over [plaintiff’s] PACA claims supports abstention, that support is mitigated by Congress’s apparent intent to protect the existence of a federal forum for PACA claims.” Case stayed pending resolution of state court action.


REGULATORY: Includes EPA, FDA, FS, BLM and NOAA rules and notices.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule establishes tolerances for residues of the insecticide pyridaben in or on multiple commodities. Interregional Research Project Number 4 requested these tolerances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Info here.

Rule establishes time-limited tolerances for residues of the fungicide isofetamid, N-[1,1-dimethyl-2-[2-methyl-4-(1-methylethoxy)phenyl]-2-oxoethyl]-3-methyl-2-thiophenecarboxamide, in or on caneberry subgroup 13-07A and bushberry subgroup 13-07B. Info here.

Rule proposes to establish tolerances for residues of tebufenozide in or on multiple commodities which are identified and discussed later in this document and amend the existing tolerance for almond, hulls under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Details here.

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATIONNotice FDA announces the renewal of the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE:

Notice FS will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to disclose the environmental effects of commercial and non-commercial vegetation management activities, prescribed burning, road activities, stream and aquatic habitat improvements, and other restoration activities. Details here.

Notice BLM, FS and USACE have participated as cooperating agencies with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the preparation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project and Equitrans Expansion Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Info here.

Notice the Northern New Mexico Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) will meet in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Info here.

Notice the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council (Council) will meet in Sandpoint, Idaho. Details here.

LAND MANAGEMENT BUREAUNotice BLM, FS and USACE have participated as cooperating agencies with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the preparation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project and Equitrans Expansion Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Notice the Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information. Title: Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program Permit and License Information Collection. Info here.

Notice on September 8, 2016, NMFS published a notice of availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment for Amendment 10 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan. Details here.

Notice NMFS informs surfclam and ocean quahog individual transferable quota allocation holders that they will be required to purchase their fishing year 2017 cage tags from the National Band and Tag Company. Details here.

Notice NMFS has issued, in response to a request from Neptune LNG LLC, an authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to maintenance, repair, and decommissioning activities at a liquefied natural gas deepwater port off the coast of Massachusetts. Info here.