You all may have noticed the lack of weekly round up posts for the last couple of Fridays. I apologize for that, but hope you will agree I had a good excuse….
In addition to getting married, I was also fortunate to be able to speak at two national conferences. First, I spoke on grazing and hunting leases at the American Agricultural Law Association Conference in Albuquerque and then I spoke on regulatory takings of water at the American Water Resources Association Conference in Washington, DC. Both were great conferences and I enjoyed the opportunity to attend and participate!
Here are some of the major ag law stories in the news over the past couple of weeks.
* San Antonio City Council Approves Vista Ridge Pipeline Project. The San Antonio City Council has voted unanimously to approve the controversial Vista Ridge pipeline project. [Read article here.]
*Lawsuit Filed Against Denton Fracking Ban. The day after Denton voters passed a ballot referendum banning fracking in city limits, the Texas Oil and Gas Association filed suit against the ban. [Read Complaint here.] Primarily, TXOGA argues that the law is pre-empted by the state-level regulatory scheme that governs oil and gas production through the Railroad Commission. [Read article here.]
* US Supreme Court Appoints Special Master in Texas v. New Mexico. This week, A. Gregory Grimsal was appointed as special master in the water law dispute between Texas and New Mexico. Mr. Grismal, an attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana, will oversee the case by requesting and reviewing factual evidence he deems necessary. [View order here.]
* Texas Water Development Board Adopts SWIFT Rules. A year after Texas voters approved moving $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund in order to create SWIFT, the Texas Water Development Board has adopted rules for the application and consideration process, which is now open. [Read article here.]
* WTO Rules Against United States in COOL Dispute. For a second time, the World Trade Organization has ruled against the United States in a dispute regarding mandatory country of origin labeling (“COOL”) of meat products in the United States. Canada and Mexico challenged the regulations as violating trade rules by giving more favorable treatment to domestic livestock, which causes a detrimental impact on Canadian and Mexican livestock. The United States is considering its options, including appeal, at this point. If this issue is not resolved, the WTO could permit trade sanctions on the US by Mexico and Canada. [Read article here.]
* Montana Exempt Well Statute Should Not Apply to Subdivisions. Last Friday a Montana district court judge ruled that the Montana exempt well statute–which allows domestic wells meeting certain requirements to be drilled without first obtaining a permit–should not apply to wells drilled for subdivisions. The lawsuit was brought by several ranchers who were concerned about depletion of groundwater after a subdivision was proposed in their area. The judge ruled that allowing numerous exempt wells to be drilled for homes in a subdivision violated the legislative intent of the exempt well statute and ordered a new rule to be written excluding subdivisions from the exempt category. [Read article here.]
* More Lawsuits Filed Against Syngenta for GMO Corn. As I mentioned about a month ago, Cargill filed suit against Syngenta after GMO corn caused China to reject a large amount of the United States corn crop. Now, farmers in 11 states have also filed similar suits. Farmers allege over $1 billion in damages because of the rejection and blame Syngenta for selling the seed prior to approval from the Chinese government. [Read article here.]
* Judge Denies Primus Labs Motion to Dismiss in Jensen Cantaloupe Lawsuit. A Colorado judge dismissed Primus Labs’ motion to dismiss claims brought by 24 plaintiffs on behalf of those killed or sickened in the listeria outbreak linked to Jensen Farms in 2011. The plaintiffs sued Primus, a food safety auditor, after Primus inspected the facility and granted it a 96% score just days before the outbreak began. Additionally, the judge refused to dismiss cross claims made by co-defendant distributors and retailers who also sued Primus. The case will now proceed to the discovery phase and potentially to trial. [Read article here.]