2015 National Agriculture Law Year in Review (Part II)

Today we continue in our review of national agricultural law developments in 2015.  If you missed Part I of this series, click here.

EPA Revokes Approval for Suloxaflor and Enlist Duo.  Just a few weeks ago, the EPA announced it would revoke approval for suloxaflor (active ingredient in Transform) and withdraw its approval for the Enlist Duo.  Both were a result of litigation filed by environmental groups challenging the approval of these products.  Dow Chemical has stated it is confident that the EPA’s concerns can be addressed quickly and adequately.

Photo via Denton Dowell, Aurora Agronomy

Draft drone regulations published by FAA.  The Federal Aviation Administration published much anticipated draft regulations related to drone use in the United States.  The regulations cover a variety of issues including operator qualifications, height, and visual requirements for drone operation.   These regulations, when finalized and enacted, will allow commercial drone use in the United States.   Currently drones may only be used for recreational or hobby use.  Any commercial use of a drone requires a permit from the FAA.  The draft rules were open for public comment and final rules should be forthcoming.  [Read prior post here.]

AQHA cloning suit reversed, registration not required.  After losing at the trial court level, the American Quarter Horse Association scored a major victory on appeal when the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the AQHA rule banning registration of cloned horses or their offspring did not violate the law.  The trial jury found that the AQHA policy prohibiting registration of clones violated the Sherman Anti-trust Act.  Earlier this year, however, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.     [Read prior post here.]

GMO production bans and labeling issues considered.  The buzz over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continued to increase during 2015.  Several legal issues have arisen.  Chief among these is a legal challenge to a Vermont law that will require labeling of all products containing GMO ingredients by 2016.  Numerous plaintiffs, led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, filed suit claiming the law violates the First Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and is pre-empted by federal law.  In April, the court issued a ruling primarily in favor of Vermont, which is now on appeal.  Although Connecticut and Maine have also passed such labeling laws, only the Vermont law has a set effective date, while the other states laws will become effective only once certain trigger conditions are met.   Another case arose in Hawaii, where a federal judge struck down a local law prohibiting farmers from growing any GMO crops in Maui County.  Specifically, the court found this local law was pre-empted by state and federal laws on the topic. [Read prior posts here and here.]

US Supreme Court sides with raisin farmers in takings case.  It is not that common for a farmer to be before the United States Supreme Court, but California raising farmers and brokers not only appeared, but prevailed on their takings claim before the Court earlier this year.  Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, the USDA sets a quota on the number of raisins that may be sold in the United States each year by requiring growers to give a certain percentage of their crop to the government.  The surplus crop is then either destroyed, donated, or sold in non-competitive markets.  The plaintiffs claimed that this marketing scheme resulted in a taking of their private property rights for which just compensation was owed.  The high court agreed, ordering the USDA to compensate the growers the market value of the raisins at the time they were taken by the government.  How broadly this decision will be applied, and whether it will impact any other price control laws is, for now, not clear.  [Read prior post here.]

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