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

                                                                                                                                               

JUDICIARY: Includes water law, water rights, Fifth Amendment takings

In Ministerio Roca Solida, Inc. v. United States, No. 16-826L, 2019 WL 6167463 (Fed. Cl. Nov. 20, 2019), the Court of Federal Claims considered a complaint brought by the plaintiff accusing the United States of committing a Fifth Amendment takings of the plaintiff’s water rights. The plaintiff, a nonprofit church located in the State of Nevada, owns a forty-acre parcel of land within the boundaries of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The takings claim originated in actions taken by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) pursuant to a federal restoration project aimed at saving a native fish species. Under that project, FWS re-routed spring waters that had previously flowed through the plaintiff’s property into a new channel located roughly 500 feet east of the plaintiff’s land. According to the plaintiff, FWS’s diversion of the water has caused flooding on the plaintiff’s property, and has resulted in a taking of vested water rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Before the court was a motion for summary judgment by the United States (“U.S.”) government to resolve the claims on the merits before going to trial. In that request, the U.S. argued that its restoration project did not cause the flooding on the plaintiff’s land, that FWS did not intentionally flood the plaintiff’s land, and that the plaintiff’s taking claims were not ripe for review. In considering the plaintiff’s flooding claims, the court reviewed the facts presented by both sides and concluded that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the restoration project caused flooding on the plaintiff’s property that would otherwise not have occurred, and whether such flooding was reasonably foreseeable. Accordingly, the court determined that those claims would progress to the next stage of the litigation. In considering the plaintiff’s water rights claims, the court concluded that the claims were ripe for review, but that the plaintiff had “failed to submit sufficient evidence to defeat the government’s motion for summary judgement as to its claim that is suffered a taking of its water rights.” Accordingly, the claim that FWS committed an uncompensated taking of the plaintiff’s water rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment will not proceed to trial.

                                                                                                                                               

REGULATORY: Includes AMS, NOAA

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE

Proposed rule that would implement a recommendation from the American Pecan Council to revise the reporting requirements prescribed under the Federal marketing order regulating the handling of pecans. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

Final rule implementing regulations that require Charter Halibut Permits to be registered annual with NFMS before use. Info here.

Temporary rule allowing NMFS to transfer 53.2 metric tons of Atlantic bluefin tuna quota from the Reserve category to the General category. Info here.

                                                                                                                                               

STATUTORY: Includes New York State law

New York Bill No. A03860 relates to the registration of certain farm vehicles. Info here.