Tiffany Lashmet, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
2022 has kicked off with a bang in the agricultural law realm. There has been plenty of news over the last couple of weeks.
*Livestock Forage Protection deadline next week. The deadline to sign up for the Livestock Forage Protection Program is January 31, 2022 for anyone in a qualifying county. LFP provides payments to livestock producers who are also producers of grazed forage crops that have suffered a loss of grazed forage due to qualifying drought conditions. Sign up is done through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in your county. Dr. Justin Benavidez wrote a great article providing an overview of this program, available here.
*TX Supreme Court heard oral argument in high speed rail eminent domain case. On January 11, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral argument in Miles v. Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure. You may recall from this prior blog post that the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals held that Texas Central does qualify to use eminent domain power to condemn property to build the high speed rail from Dallas to Houston. Initially, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, but then granted a motion to reconsider. Three attorneys participated in oral argument, one for the landowner, one for Texas Central, and one on behalf of the State of Texas, who wrote a brief arguing that Texas Central should not have eminent domain power. To listen to the argument, click here.
*US Supreme Court stays OSHA vaccine mandate. You may remember from this prior podcast episode that OSHA issued a mandate requiring that all businesses with 100 or more employees either require COVID vaccines or enforce weekly mandatory testing and masking. The Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their case because OSHA overstepped its authority in passing this mandate. Particularly, the majority ruled that because COVID-19 is not a workplace-specific danger, OSHA did not have the authority to pass the regulation. Thus, the Court issued a temporary stay on the regulation pending litigation. [Read opinion here.]
* Biden administration announces plan on meat and poultry competition issue. On January 3, the White House held a conference with the USDA and the Department of Justice to discuss anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industry. The White House announced its “Action Plan for a Fairer, more Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain.” The plan has four main areas of focus: (1) a joint initiative between USDA and the DOJ to protect against unfair and anticompetitive practices; (2) an expanded $1 billion in funding to support independent processing facilities; (3) new regulations related to the Packers and Stockyards Act and Product of the USA labeling; and (4) new market reports. For more information, click here.
*Environmental groups ask court to lift stay in dicamba lawsuit. Environmental groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity have requested an Arizona federal court to lift its stay in their lawsuit over dicamba pesticides Engenia, Tavium, and XtendiMax. They base their request on the recent EPA report on drift damage occurring in the 2021 growing season. [Read article here.]
*Update on animal confinement standards in Massachusetts and California. There are a couple of updates on the animal confinement statutes in Massachusetts and California. In MA, the governor has delayed the implementation of the Act to Prevent Cruelty to Animals standards until August 15, 2022. The Legislature has also passed a bill that decreases the spacing requirements for laying hens. [Read article here.] In California, Proposition 12 went into effect on January 1, but the California Department of Agriculture has said that egg and pork products that were already in stock on December 31, 2021 would be deemed compliant, even if they do not comply with Proposition 12. The US Supreme Court challenge to Proposition 12 remains pending. To learn more about confinement statutes, click here.