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

                                                                                                                                               

JUDICIAL: Environmental law, CEQA

In King and Gardiner Farms, LLC v. Cty. of Kern, No. F077656, 2020 WL 913788 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 25, 2020) the court considered an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) certified by the County of Kern (“the County”) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), the California state law requiring environmental review of projects approved or conducted by a California state agency. The EIR had be certified as part of the County’s approval of an ordinance to streamline the permitting process for new oil and gas wells within the County. The plaintiffs filed suit, alleging multiple CEQA violations. Although the trial court agreed with the plaintiffs that the EIR failed to adequately consider the environmental impacts to rangeland, it rejected the plaintiffs’ other CEQA claims. The plaintiffs appealed the trial court decision to this court which found that some of the plaintiffs’ other CEQA claims have merit.

In a lengthy opinion, the court carefully considered each of the plaintiffs’ CEQA claims that the trial court rejected in turn. Ultimately, the court concluded that the EIR violated CEQA by failing to adequately assess the new drilling ordinance’s effects on water supply impacts, emission impacts, agricultural land impacts, and noise impacts. Additionally, the EIR failed to supply adequate mitigation measures for the impacts the ordinance would have on water supply, air quality, and agricultural land. Accordingly, the court has ordered that the EIR approved by the County be vacated and revised to appropriately comply with CEQA.

                                                                                                                                               

REGULATORY: Includes CCC, EPA, FWS, FS, NOAA

COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION

Final rule implements changes to the Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Programs, which include the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Notice of filing of petitions and request for comment to establish tolerance for residues of the fungicide Fludioxonil: [4-(2, 2-difluoro-1,3-benzodioxol-4-yl)-1H-pyrrole-3- carbonitrile] in or on the raw agricultural commodities Brassica leafy greens subgroup 4-16B at 10.0 parts per million, Vegetable, Head and Stem Brassica, Group 5-16 at 2.0 ppm, and Kohlrabi at 2.0 ppm. Info here.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Final rule designating critical habitat for the black pinesnake (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi) in under the Endangered Species Act. Info here.

FOREST SERVICE

Proposed rule to create a new category of lands eligible for conveyance outside of the National Forest System under the Small Tracts Act for parcels of 40 acres or less that are physically isolated, inaccessible, or have lost National Forest System character and also a new category of lands eligible for conveyance involving parcels of 10 acres or less. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

Temporary rule closing the Atlantic bluefin tuna General category fishery for the January subquota period to prevent overharvest of the adjusted January subquota. Info here.

Temporary rule prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 in the Gulf of Alaska. Info here.