This is not a substitute for legal advice.

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. …

Image of crossing over the Raccoon River in Iowa. Image is by Michael Leland

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

The Supreme Court of Iowa recently found that a dispute brought by two groups against the state of Iowa lacked standing and was not an issue the courts could decide. The two groups claim that excessive nitrate levels from agricultural runoff into the Raccoon River had impaired recreational uses of the river and increased costs to purify the water for drinking. The decision, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement v. State of Iowa, can be found here.


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) and Food and Water Watch (FWW) brought a lawsuit…

Hog farm with small pigs in confined system. Image is by United Soybean Board.
Hog farm with small pigs in a confined system. Image is by United Soybean Board.

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

Late in 2020, we had a North Carolina Hog Farm Litigation settlement that ended several lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown, LLC and Smithfield Foods. In May 2020, neighboring landowners filed a new set of federal lawsuits against Murphy-Brown and Smithfield, the same defendants in the prior lawsuits. Similar to the previous lawsuits, neighbors sued the companies that the farms grow for, not the actual hog farms themselves. In these lawsuits, the neighbors used legal theories based on trespass and negligence and not around nuisance. Recently, the federal judge hearing the lawsuit allowed it…

Image of poultry farm in Maryland. Image by Edwin Remsburg

This is not a substitute for legal advice. Before reposting check with the author.

Earlier this month, a circuit court judge in Montgomery County reversed the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) final 2020 Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) Discharge Permit for not considering ammonia emission discharges into the air as a pollutant into the water, since the ammonia discharges could fall into waters covered by Clean Water Act (CWA). MDE does have to option to appeal this decision but as of writing this post, an appeal has not happened.


MDE began work on reissuing the AFO discharge permit…

Solar Panel Farm on a sunny day with blue sky by Gus Garcia

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

Many past readers may remember the previous discussions on the Perennial Solar decision by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which held that the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) statutory scheme, in approving Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for 20 megawatts or larger solar energy generating facilities, allows for the preemption of county zoning authority. Shortly before the Perennial decision, the General Assembly changed the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity process, to require the Public Service Commission to give due consideration to the county’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances.


Hemp plant research plots at Wye Research and Education Center Image by Edwin Remsberg

This is not a substitute for legal advice. Editor’s note: Since publishing this article, the final hemp rule has gone into effect with no revisions from what is discussed in the article.

On January 15, 2021, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published the final hemp rule for Hemp Domestic Production. The final rule will make changes related to sampling for testing, including expanding the days before harvest and how the testing must take place; testing done by a non-Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registered lab till December 31, 2022; changes to what will be considered a negligent violation; changes to…

Soybean harvest in Caroline County MD by Chesapeake Bay Program

In late 2020, the federal district court approved the settlement involving off-target dicamba damage to soybeans. The settlement will compensate soybean growers for yield losses from 2015 to 2020. As we will discuss, if you qualify, you need to file your claim before May 28, 2021.

Dicamba Off-Target Damage Class Action

Producers experiencing dicamba off-target damage brought the current In re Dicamba Herbicides Litigation against the manufacturers of the dicamba-based herbicides XtendiMax and Engenia in 2017. With the federal claims, the plaintiffs argue that Bayer and BASF Corporation violated § 1125(a) of the Lanham Act in marketing both XtendiMax and…

Aerial image of poultry barns on the Lower Eastern Shore. Image by Matt Rath/Chesapeake Bay Program

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On July 9, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the final rule updating regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), marking the first comprehensive update of the regulations since 1978. This change removes federal loan guarantees from the NEPA process. The change includes federal loan guarantees granted by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) utilized by many producers. This final rule goes into effect on September 14, 2020.

What is NEPA?

NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the damage to the environment, directing agencies to assess the environmental impacts…

Hemp plant research plots at Wye Research and Education Center in Queenstown, MD. Image by Edwin Remsberg

This is not a substitute for legal advice. Contact the author to repost all rights reserved.

On July 6, 2020, the Maryland Department of Agriculture released the proposed hemp plan, required under the 2018 Farm Bill to allow for more hemp production in the state. The 2014 Farm Bill opened the door to limited hemp production, and several Maryland growers have been participating in the state’s pilot research program for the past two years. With this move towards a hemp production plan, Maryland growers need to pay attention to the changes between the two programs. One of the most significant…

Image of sprayer boom in soybean field. Image by United Soybean Board

This is not a substitute for legal advice. Contact author about reposting all rights reserved

Dicamba has been back in the news lately in several areas. EPA recently moved to cancel registrations for three dicamba products, XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapa, based on a ruling in the Ninth Circuit. Growers have till the end of July 2020 to use existing stocks. And Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, recently announced the settlement of around $400 million for class-action lawsuits filed against possible drift damage caused by the company’s XtendiMax product. …

Paul Goeringer

Extension Legal Specialist @UofMaryland posts do not represent my employer & retweets ≠ endorsements

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