July 28, 2023 Weekly Round Up

We’ve reached the end of July!  Here are some of the ag law stories in the news.

*Court rules that challenge to EPA dicamba registration brought by farm groups belongs in district court.  The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently ruled that a lawsuit filed by the American Soybean Association against the EPA should have been filed in the district court (trial level court) rather than at the court of appeals level.  Because of this, the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. The jurisdictional distinction here is that for FIFRA challenges where the EPA holds a public hearing, jurisdiction lies exclusively with courts of appeals.  Conversely, if no public hearing was held, jurisdiction lies with the district courts. [Read Opinion here.]  The plaintiffs also filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which remains pending.

*Lessons from Aretha Franklin’s will.  Robert Moore at Ohio State University recently wrote a great blog post discussing lessons we can learn from the handwritten will Aretha Franklin executed that was found in her couch.  Importantly, do note that handwritten wills are valid in Texas so long as they are written completely in the handwriting of the testator and signed (assuming other requirements like testamentary capacity are met).  Of course, there are far better ways to go about this than handwriting a will and leaving it tucked into the couch cushions.  Hear Robert’s take here.  If this topic interests you, we have a prior podcast episode with Professor Gerry Beyer all about lessons from celebrity estate plans available here.

*More thoughts on the “thumbs up emoji” grain contract.  As you read about on Monday’s blog post, a Canadian court recently held a text message response of a “thumbs up emoji” constituted acceptance of a grain contract.  The failure of the texting farmer to perform under this contract costs him $82,000 in damages.  I recently did an interview with Progressive Farmer magazine on this case.  [Read article here.]

*US Supreme Court will not take California foie gras case.  The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear a lawsuit challenging California’s ban on foie gras, a dish made by force feeding ducks and geese.  California passed a law banning this practice on animal cruelty grounds in 2012.  The lawsuit challenging the law, which was dismissed by lower courts, was filed by farmers and poultry producers in Canada and New York.  [Read article here.]

*North Carolina Farm Bureau seeks SCOTUS review of “ag gag” ruling.  The North Carolina Farm Bureau has filed a Petition for Certiorari at the US Supreme Court seeking review of a 2017 ruling that the “Property Protection Act” was unconstitutional. [Read article here and Petition here.]  On the topic of “ag gag” laws, attorneys at Husch Blackwell recently published a state-by-state guide to ag gag legislation.  You can view that guide here.

*Farm safety should be a priority.  I appreciated an article from Chris Chinn offering an important reminder about making safety a priority on the farm.  He offers 5 areas to review and consider with regard to safety on your operation, and also reminds farmers that safeguarding their mental health is critical as well.  [Read article here.]

Upcoming Presentations

I will be kicking off August with a bang.  Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting via video at the Gillespie County wildlife meeting.  On August 1st, I’ll be presenting at the Fairfield, TX Annie’s Project via Zoom.  Then, I’ll head to San Marcos to present on landowner liability at the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Conference on August 7.  The following day, I’ll be speaking at Beef Cattle Short Course in College Station.

For a complete list of my upcoming programs, click here.

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