By Mayhah Suri
6th Circuit Court of Appeals to Hear WOTUS Challenge On Monday, a fractured 3-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the 6th Circuit had jurisdiction to review challenges to the controversial “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule announced by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. The 6th Circuit had previously granted a nationwide motion to stay the rule in late 2015. In a quick overview of the opinion, 1 judge held that the Clean Water Act allowed for Courts of Appeals to hear challenges like this. One judge disagreed that the Clean Water Act granted this broad review by the Courts of Appeals, but felt obligated to follow past court rulings that allowed for expansive jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act and Courts of Appeals. Finally, one justice dissent on both the expansive reading of the Clean Water Act and following previous court decisions. The next step will be for the parties to request the full 6th Circuit hear this challenge. For a nice summary of this fractured court opinion, check out friend of the blog, Peggy Kirk Hall’s overview on the Ohio Ag Law Blog http://aglaw.osu.edu/blog/tue-02232016-231pm/sixth-circuit-court-appeals-will-hear-challenge-wotus-rule.
MDA secretary talks poultry with Shore reps Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder told Eastern Shore legislators at their weekly meeting on Friday, Feb. 12, that new legislation on poultry integrators submitted this general assembly felt “kind of like a punch in the gut.” The comment was directed to the Poultry Litter Management Act, which is sponsored primarily in Senate and House of Delegates by urban Democrat legislators and takes aim at the Eastern Shore’s poultry industry by requiring “big chicken” poultry companies to deal with their contract growers’ extra poultry manure in an environmentally friendly way. To read the full story click here: http://www.myeasternshoremd.com/news/state_regional/article_41a0f9ea-4229-54df-b1a4-9a072ad733ec.html
Crop Insurance Options Expanded for Organic Growers This week USDA announced expanding crop insurance options for organic growers. Transitioning growers (growers transitioning from conventional to organic) can now use a Contract Price Addendum to cover transitioning crops at a higher contract price than conventional crops. The Risk Management Agency has also expanded organic premium price elections to cover 57 crops, up from 4 crops in 2011. To learn more about the expansions in crop insurance for organic growers, see the USDA press release: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2016/02/0049.xml&contentidonly=true To learn about previous expansions in organic crop insurance, see 2014 Changes for Organic Crop Insurance by Paul Goeringer and Lori Lynch.
Harford County Family Farm Brewery to Open Public Beer Garden Falling Branch Brewery, run by the Galbreath family in Harford County, has announced plans to open a public beer garden this summer. The brewery was buoyed by a county farm brewery law based on the Maryland state law designed to encourage farmers to open up breweries on their property. The intent behind this law is to open up a new avenue for Maryland farmers to connect with the non-farming community and produce a value-added product. Read the full story about Falling Branch Brewery here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/harford/belair/ph-ag-farm-brewery-0224-20160222-story.html For more information about the brewery law, check out our guide: http://go.umd.edu/3qg Reminder Crop Insurance Sales Closing Date is March 15 Those with spring planted crops or considering Whole Farm Revenue Insurance need to remember the sales closing date is March 15. Go see your crop insurance agent before that time to make changes to your crop insurance coverage. To get estimates on premium costs for various coverage, check out the crop insurance tool from the University of Illinois’s FarmDoc that includes Maryland’s information at http://go.umd.edu/iFarmTools. Reminder Webinar on Economic Issues in Big Data Next Week Just a reminder that spots are quickly filling up for the upcoming webinar on economic issues with big data in agriculture. The webinar takes place on March 3 at noon and features Dr. Terry Griffin from Kansas State University. The webinar is sponsored by the Ag Law Education Initiative, the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, and Texas Agrilife Extension. To signup go to http://go.umd.edu/BigDataWebinar1.