December 11, 2015 Weekly Round Up

We have reached another Friday!  This week I was on the road to speak at the Swisher County Ag Day on the top legal developments in 2015.  Thanks to John Vialba and Glenda Gibson for all their hard work to put on a great event and for inviting me to participate.  For those of you interested in that topic, stay tuned next week for a blog recapping the year in ag law!  To those of you joining the blog from the Swisher County Ag Day, welcome!

Here are some ag law stories in the news this week.

Syngenta files complaint against grain handlers.  Syngenta is fighting back by filing its own third-party claim in relation to the Viptera (MIR-162) corn seed lawsuit filed by numerous agribusinesses and farmers earlier this year.  [Read about initial lawsuit here.]  This week, Syngenta filed suit against grain handlers Cargill and ADM.  Essentially, Syngenta claims there is no liability to or damage caused to the plaintiffs or the corn market due to its seed, but if such damage did exist, it would be the fault of the grain handlers, not Syngenta.  Specifically, Syngenta argues that the seed met all requirements and was approved in the US, and that it was the grain handlers who commingled the Viperta seed with other corn seed, knowing it was likely to enter into the international market.  [View Complaint here.]

WTO approves $1.01 billion in COOL retaliation.  The WTO has approved $1.01 billion in annual retaliation for Mexico and Canada against the US due to the US Country of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) program which violates WTO rules.  The retaliation will consist of tariffs on a variety of products that could be in place soon unless COOL is repealed.  Currently, the US House has voted to repeal COOL, but the Senate has yet to act on the bill.  [Read article here.]

Texas A&M Agrilife Photo by Kay Ledbetter

Plaintiffs seek attorney’s fees in Idaho “ag gag” case.  The plaintiffs, animal rights groups, who successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Idaho “ag gag” statute are seeking over $250,000 in attorney’s fees.  [Read post discussing decision here.]  Additionally, the State of Idaho will decide soon whether to appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  [Read article here.]

How is big data used on the farm?  Southwest Farm Press recently ran an article on how big data can be used on the farm to aid farmers in decision-making. [Click here if you missed our prior Big Data blog series.]  From improving yields to increasing profitability, there are numerous exciting potentials for big data use.  [Read article here.]

Proposed settlement would allow Jackson County GMO ban to remain in force.  As we discussed in this prior blog post, a Jackson County ban on the production of GMO crops in the county was challenged by several farmers.  Now, a proposed settlement may alleviate the concerns and let the ban remain in place.  The proposed settlement will allow the plaintiffs to continue raising their GMO alfalfa for the next 8 years.  The court must approve the settlement before it is final.  [Read article here.]

Estate planning for blended families.  My friend and Dripping Springs-based attorney Margaret Menicucci recently posted a blog discussing the importance of estate planning for blended families.  Her blog outlines some of the challenges facing those seeking to develop estate plans that involve step-children or other blended family situations.  It is good information to keep in mind when considering estate plan options.  [Read blog post here.]









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