***This blog is not intended as a substitute for the advice of an attorney.***
A wide variety of ag law stories were in the news this week. Here is a recap.
AQHA Seeks Delay in Registering Clones During Appeal: The AQHA is seeking permission from a federal judge to delay in complying with an order to register cloned horses and their offspring pending a decision on the pending appeal. In July, a jury found that the AQHA’s rules banning registration of cloned horses violated anti-trust laws. Subsequently, Judge Mary Lou Robinson ordered the AQHA to immediately begin registering clones. The AQHA appealed the decision and that appeal is pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In their motion, the AQHA argues that registering the clones will require expensive modifications to their current computer system, require thousands of hours of work, and months of programming modifications. The Plaintiffs response to this request is expected in the coming weeks.
LCRA Will Release Water to Matagorda Bay: Recent rains have raised the levels in Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, prompting the Lower Colorado River Authority to withdraw its request to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to cut off water to Matagorda Bay. [Read article here.]
The Chesapeake Bay Lawsuit – Farm Bureau v. EPA: In 2010, the federal Environmental Protection Agency determined that states surrounding the Chesapeake Bay were not doing enough to prevent harm to the Bay caused by runoff from large farms in the area. In order to address this issue, the EPA implemented a Total Maximum Daily Load (“TMDL”) of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment for the Chesapeake Bay watershed area. Various groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation filed suit challenging the EPA’s establishment of the TMDL as being beyond the EPA’s authority. In September, the trial court sided with the EPA and upheld the TMDL. [Read opinion here.] The American Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs have appealed the decision to the United States District Court for the Third Circuit. [Read article here.] This week, Illinois agricultural attorney, Todd Janzen, wrote a blog this week explaining why a case involving the Chesapeake Bay could have impacts on agricultural producers in the midwest. [Read blog here.]
West Virginia Poultry Farm Wins Suit Against EPA: A federal district court found that the West Virginia poultry farm did not have to obtain a pollution permit from the EPA for runoff from the farm. Lois Alt’s Eight is Enough farm is home to eight poultry confinement houses. The EPA threatened fines against the Ms. Alt due to water runoff from the farmyard outside her poultry houses. The farmer argued that the runoff was exempt from EPA permitting because it was agricultural storm water runoff, which is specifically exempted from the statute. This week, the court agreed, holding that because the water runoff from the farm was storm water, it was not subject to regulation by the EPA under the Clean Water Act. In reaching this decision, the court gave the term “agricultural storm water” its ordinary meaning, and rejected a narrow construction proposed by the EPA. [Read order here.]
Mexico Bans Genetically Modified Corn: In 1998, Mexico banned planting genetically modified crops, but that law was amended in 2005 to allow test plots to be planted if a permit was obtained from the government. In July 2013, a group of Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to ban these test plots due to the potential for contamination of native corn crops in the country. The National Ag Law Center reported earlier this week that the court issued a decision this week that banned the planting of genetically modified corn due to a threat of imminent harm to the environment. [Read article here.]