Maryland Court of Special Appeals Overturns Lower Court, Finding Pesticide Ordinance Is Not Preempted by State Law

Sprayer in field. Image by United Soybean Board

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

            In 2015, the Montgomery County Council passed a bill prohibiting the use of certain pesticides on private and county-owned properties.  The law limited the use of pesticides registered with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), allowing pesticides listed by the county for non-essential cosmetic purposes, and exempting agricultural applications.  In 2017, the Montgomery County circuit court found that Maryland state law preempted the ordinance; click here to see my overview of this ruling.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently issued an opinion overruling the circuit court.  The Court of Special Appeals found that federal and state laws in Montgomery County v. Complete Lawn Care, Inc. do not preempt the ordinance.

Continue reading

Where Are My Syngenta Settlement Payments: Why Have Checks Not Been Issued Yet?

A farmer harvests corn in Queen Anne’s County, Md. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

            A number of you have asked when potential Syngenta settlement checks would be released to growers.  In late 2018, the settlement order was approved for the $1.51 billion MIR162 Syngenta settlement.  Based on the final order, payments to producers should have started going out in the second quarter of 2019.  At this time that has not happened due to a number of unresolved appeals which could impact the final settlement.  Till these issues are resolved or we have more information, Mid-Atlantic growers should remain patient.

Continue reading

2019 Brings Potential Changes to Hemp Production in Maryland

Industrial hemp being grown on University of Kentucky research farm. Image by University of Kentucky

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

            As I have discussed earlier, the 2018 Farm Bill makes significant changes to the classification of hemp and allows states to begin to develop regulations for the legal production of hemp.  The 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and allows for states and tribal governments to begin developing hemp production plans.  Hemp produced under these plans will potentially be eligible for the federal crop insurance program.  The Maryland General Assembly during the previous session passed legislation allowing the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to develop a hemp production plan for the state.  MDA will be able to create this hemp production plan once USDA releases the guidelines for the state programs.

Continue reading

Court of Appeals Finds Indiana Hog Farm Entitled to Right-to-Farm Defense, Upholding Its Constitutionality

Image of hogs in modern hog facility. Image is by Kevin Chang via flickr.com.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

            In 2019, we continue to see decisions involving the application of the right-to-farm law (RTF) defense in a few states.  Recently, the Court of Appeals of Indiana upheld a trial court’s decision applying the state’s RTF law.  In this case, the RTF law applied to claims that a neighboring hog farm was creating a nuisance.  Although over the past 18 months, we have seen decisions involving RTF laws not applying to agricultural companies being hit with large damage verdicts, it is crucial to remember that in many cases, the RTF defense continues to apply and prevent large verdicts.

Continue reading

Court of Appeals Agrees USDA Did Not Have the Discretion to Implement New Program Benefiting Farmers

Combine dumping wheat into grain cart pulled by tractor in wheat field in Colorado. Image by Shannon Dizmang.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

            Many are paying attention to the implementation of the new Farm Bill, looking at how changes to existing and new programs will operate.  One issue that may come up after passing the 2018 Farm Bill is how quickly USDA must implement program changes or new programs.  In Ausmus v. Perdue, a group of Colorado wheat farmers recently had a lower court decision upheld.  The farmers had requested a new crop insurance product authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill before USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) implemented a product for wheat.  The lower court ruled and the court of appeals agreed that although it might conflict with the agency’s other duties under federal law, RMA had to allow producers to use the program after the effective date of the 2014 Farm Bill and not when RMA implemented the regulations. 

Continue reading

2018 Farm Bill Makes Hemp Production Legal; But State Still Needs to Act to Take Advantage of Change

Close-ups of the industrial hemp research plots at the Spindletop research farm. Image by University of Kentucky

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

I recently contributed an article to Maryland Bar Bulletin on changes to hemp restrictions in the 2018 Farm Bill and what needs to happen before farmers can grow the crop legally. The Maryland Bar Bulletin recently published the article online.

Continue reading

Wait for hemp production plans before you begin planting

The hemp research plot at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment Spindletop Research Farm was harvested Tuesday monring in Lexington, Ky.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

I recently contributed an article to American Agriculturalist magazine on changes to hemp restrictions in the 2018 Farm Bill and what needs to happen before farmers can grow the crop legally. American Agriculturalist recently published the article online.

Continue reading

Pilot Industrial Hemp Program Now Final and Allows For Research Growing of Hemp in Maryland

Image of first UK Industrial Hemp Field Day at Spindletop Research Farm. Image by University of Kentucky.

This post is not legal advice.

In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly first passed legislation allowing for the development of an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in the state.  That program was recently updated in 2018 by House Bill (HB) 698 to allow farmers contracting with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) or Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) in Maryland to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. Production of hemp under the program must further either agricultural or academic research. HB 698 became effective on July 1, 2018, MDA has recently issued final regulations to implement this pilot program effective on January 28, 2019, and can be found here

Continue reading

Federal Estate Tax and Gift Tax Limits Announced For 2019

Image by Sridhar Sara. Image of barns and farm from road in Maryland

This is not a substitute for legal advice. 

            In November, the IRS announced the revised federal estate tax and gift tax limits for 2019.  The 2019 federal estate tax limit will increase from $11.18 million to $11.4 million.  The federal gift tax limit will remain at $15,000.  In Maryland, state estate tax limits will increase to $5 million, up from $4 million in 2018.

Continue reading

2018 Farm Bill Makes Hemp Production Legal Only In Certain Situations

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

Image of hemp research plots with University of Kentucky. Image by University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

            Farmers across the country are looking to begin producing hemp.  The 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to develop hemp research programs, but the 2018 Farm Bill significantly changes the classification of hemp and allows states to begin developing regulations for legal hemp production.  The 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and allows states and tribal governments to begin developing hemp production plans.  Hemp produced under these plans will potentially be eligible for federal crop insurance.  Although the 2018 Farm Bill has made changes to hemp, it is still currently not legal to grow hemp in Maryland until the state develops and has an approved hemp production plan in place.

Continue reading