Welcome to November! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Halloween. Our family celebrated with a tractor and an elephant, both of whom received lots of candy!
Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week.
*John Deere wins trademark infringement claim. Speaking of tractors, Deere & Co. recently won a trademark infringement case in Kentucky federal court. Deere filed suit against FIMCO (Ag Spray Equipment), a company who manufactures and sells sprayers painted, you guessed it, green and yellow. Deere has a trademark for the green and yellow color combination it uses or farm equipment and alleged that the FIMCO equipment infringed on this trademark and confused the public as to the origin of products, thereby diluting the John Deere brand. The court sided with Deere, finding that the FIMCO products were likely to cause consumer confusion, and issued an injunction prohibiting FIMCO from selling green and yellow products in the US. [Read Opinion here.]
*November 15 deadline nears for ag operations to begin emissions reporting. Remember this prior post discussing that agricultural operations are no longer exempt from reporting requirements under CERCLA and EPCRA? Unless an extension is granted, all operations with emissions of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide from manure over 100 pounds in a 24 hour period will be required to report pursuant to these federal laws. Last week, the EPA issued “guidance” on exactly what this means for ag operators, including information on how to calculate emissions. [Read guidance here.]
*Article highlights water issues in West Texas. The Texas Observer published an article this week by Naveena Sadasivam called “How to Disappear a River,” focusing on the San Saba River during the 2011 drought. The article highlights a host of major issues in Texas water law, including the relationship between surface water and groundwater (which are governed by two different legal schemes), concerns over priority of appropriation for surface water during a drought, and environmental concerns when rivers run dry. Plenty of food for thought. [Read article here.]
*Maine seeks to solve rural attorney shortage. Maine has a shortage of rural attorneys, and it is projected to get worse as over 65% of rural attorneys in the state are over 50 years old. The University of Maine law school is launching a “Rural Practice Fellowship” program, which will offer paid summer internships for students to work with rural practitioners. These internships will be funded by the school. [Read article here.]