**This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.**
Happy New Year! Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this first week of 2014.
*EPA Appeals Alt Decision. The EPA has filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Alt v. EPA. As you read about on this prior blog, the trial court found that manure runoff from the Alt farm constituted agricultural storm runoff and, therefore, was not required to obtain a NPDES permit under the Clean Water Act. [Read article here.]
*Horse Slaughter Update. Two major happenings have occurred with regard to horse slaughter. First, the New Mexico Attorney General has filed suit against Roswell-based Valley Meat seeking to prevent the plant from slaughtering horses. [Read article here.] This has resulted in another temporary restraining order being issued, and a hearing that will occur on Friday to determine whether the order will remain in place. [Read articles here and here.] Second, there are appropriations bills in both the House and Senate that would again put a halt to horse slaughter by defunding federal inspectors required for plants to operate. A similar law defunding inspections was in place from 2007 to 2011. [Read article here.]
* Ag Operations Should Develop Disaster Plans. Lindsay Chichester from the University of Nebraska Extension recently wrote an article in the importance of disaster plans for ag operations in case of fire, flood, or blizzard. A plan should include a list of phone numbers that might be needed in an emergency including police, veterinarians, neighbors, extension service, brand inspector, and a trucking company. Producers should also consider where livestock could be taken in the event of an emergency on the farm, such as a fire. She also recommends that people consider a back up source of power, sufficient fuel, and keeping livestock feed on hand for two to three days. [Read article here.]
*Battles Over Water for Ag Not Just in the West. A lawsuit has been filed in South Carolina over a proposed large-scale potato farm that would irrigate crops with water obtained from a nearby river. The state has granted a permit for the farm to use 6 billion gallons of water per year, and is now considering granting an additional 3 billion gallons of water. A group of concerned citizens filed suit alleging that state regulators violated the law in issuing the permit to the farm. [Read article here.]
*Farmers Input Convinces FDA To Modify Proposed Rules. The FDA has announced that it will revised proposed food safety rules after farmers raised concerns during the comment process. The proposed rules are aimed at vegetables and fruits usually eaten raw, including berries, melons, leafy greens and intend to ensure farm safety in food production, including ensuring that employees wash hands, that irrigation water is clean, and that animals stay out of crop fields. The rules would also have required food manufacturers to prepare food safety plans. Farmers expressed concern over the additional expenses that the rules would involve, including new equipment, paperwork, and record-keeping. The FDA will now make revisions to the proposed rules and hope to have a new draft ready by summer. [Read article here.]