The Biden administration recently announced a proposed regulation to revise the Packers and Stockyards Act to require more disclosures to contract poultry growers. These regulations would fully replace the proposed regulations announced by the Trump administration. The regulations being proposed by USDA are to combat a concern by USDA that poultry growers are not fully aware of the financial risks associated with flock placements and the tournament system. At the same time, there is a concern that growers potentially are making financial decisions involving improvements to houses without fully understanding the financial risks. The proposed rules would assist in combating that. The current administration’s proposed regulations are similar to efforts made at the end of the Obama administration to create transparency in the tournament system.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a U.S. District Court of the District of Montana decision holding that the Montana Beef Council’s and other qualified state beef councils’ (QSBCs) advertisements are exempt from First Amendment scrutiny. The decision is in Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America v. Vilsack, No. 20-35453 (9th Cir. July 27, 2021).
Back in 2018, I posted on a federal district court decision involving a challenge to a USDA loan guarantee granted to a new Maryland poultry farm in Caroline County. Food & Water Watch (FWW) had challenged the environmental assessment required at the time to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); see that information here. In 2018, the federal district held that FWW had standing to bring the challenge. Still, a federal court of appeals recently reversed this decision. A two-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, agreed that FWW did not have standing.
Combine unloading wheat into a semi truck in a harvested field. Photo by Shannon Dizmag via flickr.com
The article is not a substitute for legal advice.
Many of us are paying attention to the debate over the new Farm Bill and looking at how changes to existing programs and potential new programs. One issue that may come up after passing a new Farm Bill is how quickly USDA must implement the program changes or new programs. In Ausmus v. Perdue, a group of Colorado wheat farmers recently won after selecting to utilize a new crop insurance product before USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) had implemented the product for wheat. The court ruled that although it might conflict with other duties had under federal law, RMA had to allow producers the ability to use the program after the effective date of the 2014 Farm Bill and not when RMA had implemented the regulations. Continue reading →
Many of you have heard the slogan “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” in advertising to promote the use of beef in a healthy diet. But if you were a beef producer would you consider this type of generic beef advertising to be a violation of your First Amendment rights? Would you want this generic advertising to promote American beef? Or beef produced in your home state? A federal lawsuit touching on these issues has been progressing in a federal district court in Montana this year, and a federal magistrate judge has recently recommended to the federal court to allow a challenge to the beef advertising be allowed to continue. Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) and United Stockgrowers of America brought the action against Secretary Vilsack and USDA. The beef check-off program created by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (Act) and the check-off pays for the generic advertising to promote beef. The Act allows qualified state beef councils to collect the beef check-off dollars. These qualifying state beef councils must agree to follow similar promotional activities as the federal Cattlemen’s Beef Production and Research Board (Board). In Montana, the group is the Montana Beef Council.