A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.
JUDICIAL: Includes food labeling
In Thornton v. Tyson Foods, Inc. et al., No. 1:20-CV-105-KWR-SMV, 2020 WL 5076083 (D. N.M. Aug. 27, 2020), the court considered the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint. This case was originally filed as two separate cases. However, the cases brought by the plaintiffs were so similar that the court consolidated the cases into one for pre-trial proceedings. The plaintiffs both accuse the defendant of misleading retailers and consumers by labeling the beef it sells as a “Product of the USA,” when the cattle are raised in foreign countries, then slaughtered and processed in the United States. The plaintiffs bring their claims purely under state law. The defendants argue that the plaintiffs’ case must be dismissed because it is federal law, not state law, that regulates labels on beef products, and the labels the plaintiffs’ challenge were approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). In the United States, the Federal Meat Inspection Act (“FMIA”) regulates a variety of activities related to meat processing, including the labeling of beef products. Regulations for the FMIA provide that a label cannot be used on any meat product unless it has been approved for use by USDA. The label approval program used by USDA to review proposed meat labels ensures that no meat products bear any false labeling. The FMIA gives USDA exclusive authority over meat labeling, meaning that states and state law may not impose different or additional labeling requirements than those found under the FMIA. Because the plaintiffs brought their claims seeking to change the defendants’ beef labels entirely under state law, the court concluded that the FMIA preempted the plaintiffs’ claims. Therefore, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ case
REGULATORY: Includes FWS, NOAA, USDA-AMS
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
Final rule the FWS is opening, for the first time, eight National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) that were previously closed to hunting and sport fishing. In addition, they are opening or expanding hunting and sport fishing at 89 other NWRs and adding pertinent station-specific regulations for other NWRs that pertain to migratory game bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting, and sport fishing for the 2020-2021 season. Info here.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
Final determination the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes the final Annual Determination (AD) for 2020, pursuant to its authority under the Endangered Species Act (ESA or Act). Info here.
Proposed rule the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) allows for specified persons to employ measures to deter marine mammals from damaging fishing gear and catch, damaging personal or public property, or endangering personal safety, as long as these measures do not result in death or serious injury of marine mammals. Info here.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE
Notice of Meeting AMS is announcing a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) on October 28-30, 2020 from 12 noon until 5 pm Eastern Standard Time. Info Here.