Happy Friday! My husband and I just returned from a little vacation in the California wine country.
Although we had a great time in Napa, I made sure to keep up with the ag law news this week so I could share some of the biggest stories with you all.
*Justice Kennedy announces retirement. Perhaps the biggest news this week was that US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he will retire during the Court’s summer break. Immediately, talk turned to speculation over who President Trump might nominate as his replacement, and whether that nomination would be confirmed before the mid-term elections this fall. Particularly interesting for agriculture is that it was Justice Kennedy who wrote the plurality opinion in the Clean Water Act case of Rapanos, which gave us the “significant nexus” test that the 2015 WOTUS rule was based upon. How this plays out will be interesting to see. [Read article here.]
*US Supreme Court remands Florida v. Georgia back to Special Master for additional consideration. Just before Justice Kennedy’s big announcement became public, the US Supreme Court issued its final opinions of the term, including a 5-4 decision in Florida v. Georgia, a water law case pitting two states against each other in a battle over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. The Special Master had recommended that the case be dismissed, as Florida failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that its injury could be adequately redressed by an order from the Court in this case. The Supreme Court did not accept this recommendation, deciding instead that the Special Master applied too strict of a standard in reaching this determination, and remanding the case back to him for additional consideration. [Read opinion here.]
*IA Supreme Court upholds Right to Farm Act. Last Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion in Honomichl v. Valley View Swine, LLC, affirmed the constitutionality of the state’s Right to Farm Act. In this case, plaintiffs were homeowners who owned their property prior to a hog farm being built nearby. They sued for nuisance, and the farm contended the Right to Farm Act prohibited the claims. The court reaffirmed a three-part test under the statute to analyze the applicability of the defense. [Read summary of decision here.]
* North Carolina governor vetoes Right to Farm Amendment, Legislature overrides veto. You may recall last week that the North Carolina legislature passed an amendment to the state’s Right to Farm Law. This week, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed that bill. Cooper noted that while agriculture is vital to North Carolina’s economy, so are property rights vital to people’s homes and businesses. [Read article here.] But then, in a twist, the North Carolina House and Senate vote to override the veto, passing the bill into law. [Read article here.]
*Curbing suicide rates in rural America. Ag Web published an article earlier this month looking at suicide rates across the country. The rates are highest across the West and in rural parts of the nation. The article offers tips and resources to help. [Read article here.]
* Senate passes version of Farm Bill. The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill this week by vote of 86-11. There are major differences between this bill and that passed by the House earlier this month, which could set up an interesting situation in the conference committee next month. [Read article here.]