March 15, 2024 Weekly Round Up

It has only been two weeks since our last Weekly Round Up, but there have been a number of major news items related to agricultural law!

Photo by Dan Dennis 

* Resources for producers and landowners impacted by Panhandle wildfires.  On Monday, we posted a blog with information for producers and landowners who suffered losses during the wildfires about resources available. We have continued to update that document as additional resources have been announced.  To read more, click here.  In particular, I want to highlight an announcement from USDA about $6 million in EQIP funding for producers impacted by fires.  The application will need to be made through the producer/landowner’s local NRCS office by April 8.  Read more here.  We also have a podcast episode on resources available here.

*  Securities & Exchange Commission publishes final emissions reporting rule; Scope 3 emissions excluded.  The SEC released its final rule related to greenhouse gas emissions.  You may recall that two years ago, the SEC released a proposed rule that would have required not only publicly traded companies to report their emissions, but also would have required those companies along the supply chain of publicly traded companies to report their emissions as well.  These supply chain emissions are known as Scope 3 emissions, and many agricultural groups responded to the proposed rule with concern over what this might mean for farms, ranches and agribusinesses.  The final rule does not require reporting of Scope 3 emissions.  This will not be the last we hear of this issue, however, as there are state reporting laws that have been passed and other federal lawmakers have announced they will seek additional legislation to require Scope 3 reporting.  We will have an Ag Law in the Field Podcast episode on this topic in the next few weeks.   [Read more here.]

*  Corporate Transparency Act ruled unconstitutional by Alabama court; injunction entered for named plaintiffs.  An Alabama federal court judge in National Small Business United v. Yellen recently found the Corporate Transparency Act unconstitutional in violation of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.  [Read Order here and article here.]  You may recall from this prior blog post that the CTA is a federal law requiring beneficial ownership information be reported for small entities created by filing documents with a Secretary of State such as an LLC or corporation.  The judge issued an injunction prohibiting the US Department of the Treasury from enforcing the CTA against the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit.  The Department of Treasury issued a press release that it will comply with the injunction, but that the CTA is still in effect for everyone other than the named plaintiffs in the case.  The case will likely be appealed, but that has not been filed at this point. The National Agricultural Law Center will be hosting a free webinar next week on the CTA and this litigation.  For more information, click here.  We previously did a podcast episode on the CTA here.

*  Texas farmers file lawsuit against Synagro for selling fertilizer allegedly containing PFAS and causing extensive damage.  Five farmers near Grandview, Texas have filed suit against Synagro in a Maryland court claiming that the company sold them fertilizer for their fields that contained PFAS and resulted in contaminated water supplies, soil, and severe health impacts for humans and livestock. [Read article here and Complaint here.]  We previously did a podcast episode discussing PFAS here.

*  Last Sugar Mill in Texas shuts down citing ongoing water shortage issues.  The Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, Inc. announced it has completed its last harvest and milling season after more than 50 years in operation.  The Board of Directors cited issues with water shortages with Mexico as a main reason for the closure of the mill. [Read article here.]

*  EPA launches Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.  The Environmental Protection Agency just announced that it will be establishing a new office to expand opportunities for engagement with agriculture and rural communities.  This will be a new office within the EPA, and EPA Administrator, Michael Regan, says that by creating this office the EPA will “ensure agricultural and rural stakeholders will continue to have a seat at the table for many years to come.”  The office will be led by Rod Snyder. [Read more here.]

*  Plaintiffs sue Wisconsin cranberry farms for violating the Clean Water Act.  Two Wisconsin cranberry farms are facing allegations they violated the Clean Water Act in Courte Oreilles Lakes Ass’n, Inc v. Zawistowski.  The plaintiffs claim the farms have been making unpermitted discharges in violation of the Clean Water Act.  Traditionally, cranberry bogs are exempt from Clean Water Act permitting requirements because they fall within the “irrigation return flow” exemption.  [Read more here.]

Upcoming Programs

I’ll be busy the next couple of weeks with several programs.  On Tuesday, March 19, I’ll be virtually attending a meeting with the University of Houston Agricultural Law group.  The following day,  I will be in Lubbock at the Texas Tech University School of Law to talk about ag law with the Ag Law Society and to guest lecture in the agricultural law class.  The following week, I’ll be speaking to the Texas Sorghum Growers Association and to a group of NRCS employees at their meetings.

Remember, we are just a month away from our upcoming Ranchers Leasing Workshop and Owning Your Piece of Texas programs in San Angelo!  Make plans to join us.

To see a full list of my upcoming programs, click here.



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