Happy Friday! Last week I made the drive to Muncy, Texas for the Caprock Crops Production Conference to chat about hot topics in agricultural law. There was a great turn out and excellent questions, which always makes a presentation more fun. Kudos to county extension agents Caitlyn Jackson and Cristen Brooks on a great conference. To those of you joining the blog, welcome!
Here are some ag law stories in the news this week.
* Texas database to identify entities with eminent domain power. Last term, the Texas Legislature passed a bill requiring the Comptroller to create a database to identify all entities with eminent domain authority. According to Comptroller, Glen Hagar, at last estimate, his office believes there are at least 6,300 entities in the state with some form of eminent domain power. The database will show the contact information for each entity, the legal provision granting it eminent domain power, the focus or scope of the authority, and whether it has used the authority in the past year. Currently, the Comptroller is collecting information from entities claiming eminent domain power and plans to have the database ready to go by the end of 2016. [Read article here.]
*News on the Enlist Duo litigation. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has officially denied a motion by the EPA to vacate the label for Enlist Duo, claiming that further study was needed on how the chemical contents might react. Since the Ninth Circuit has rejected the EPA’s motion, the approved label for Enlist remains in effect. The EPA may, however, review its decision to approve the herbicide. Importantly, the herbicide label has been approved for use in only 15 states, and has not yet been approved in Texas. Dow is working to get labeling approved in additional states. According to Dow, they are currently working on obtaining Chinese approval of Enlist corn and hoping to have that in place this year. Enlist soybeans are targeted for a 2017 commercial launch and Enlist cotton awaits EPA approval. [Read articles here and here.]
* Lawsuit challenges drone registration requirement. You may recall that the FAA recently passed a regulation requiring all drones–even those for hobby or recreational use–must be registered with the agency. A lawsuit filed by a Maryland attorney is challenging this requirement. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that the rule’s requirement of registration for recreational use drones violates the FAA Reform Law, Section 336(a), providing that the FAA may not “promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft…if…the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use,” does not interfere with other aircraft, weighs less than 55 pounds, and operates in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines. [Read article here.]
* Lawsuit filed over sexing of bull semen. A lawsuit has been filed claiming that one company’s monopoly on the sexing of semen to allow a producer to select whether he or she wants heifer calves or bull calves violates antitrust laws. ABS Global filed suit against Sexing Technologies back in 2014. Earlier this week, Bloomberg ran an article discussing the impacts this suit could have on the dairy industry, which greatly benefits from sexed semen. Essentially ABS argues that because Sexing Technologies controls the vast majority of the market and prevents competition because of holding numerous patents preventing others from participating, it violates the law. The case, filed in federal court in the Western District of Wisconsin, is expected to go to trial in August. [Read Complaint here and article here.]
* Swiss army knife of personal finance. I do love a good Swiss army knife, don’t you? When I came across an article using the trusty knife to offer personal finance advice, I had to read it. And, as I expected, it was excellent. The article outlines the 6 tools you need in your personal finance knife: a well-funded checking account, an emergency fund, savings toward annual expenses, life insurance, and a will. [Read article here.]