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SARL Members and Alumni News

North Dakotans soundly reject corporate farming measure

Reuters | Posted on June 15, 2016

North Dakotans on Tuesday soundly rejected a law enacted last year that changed decades of family-farming rules in the state by allowing corporations to own and operate dairy and hog farms.  Some 75 percent of North Dakotans who went to the ballot box voted to repeal Senate Bill 2351. The law, signed into law in March 2015 by Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple, exempted dairy and swine production from the state's Depression-era corporate farming prohibition. The North Dakota Farmers Union and other groups that collected signatures to put the referendum on the ballot said family farmers cannot compete with large agricultural firms with no ties to the communities where they operate. Supporters of the bill argued that dairy and pork operations are on the decline in the state and cannot survive without corporations that can finance expensive equipment and compete regionally, according to the Yes for Dairies & Pork Producers website. This February, a U.S. district judge issued an injunction barring Nebraska officials from enforcing the state's ban on farmland ownership by corporations. The referendum was the only measure on the state's primary ballot, which was dominated by a Republican fight for the governor's office. In the Republican primary for governor, Doug Burgum defeated North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, results on the state's election website showed.

Why Iowa farmers should win drainage case

Farm Futures | Posted on June 15, 2016

The Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) federal case is coming to a close. DMWW sued Sac, Calhoun, and Buena Vista Counties in Iowa, as trustees of numerous Iowa Drainage Districts. After the complaint was filed by DMWW, the Counties sought summary judgment in federal court regarding the Clean Water Act (CWA) issues. The U.S. District Court referred the common law issues to the Iowa Supreme Court for review and decision. The CWA claims are now fully briefed. The Drainage Districts filed their reply brief on May 31, 2016. It is a homerun. Regarding jurisdiction issues, the Drainage Districts brief destroys DMWW’s claims. First, the districts describe how there is no jurisdiction for the Court to order a drainage district to resolve an issue where it has no power to resolve that issue. Second, the Drainage Districts point out DMWW sat on its hands for 44 years and did nothing regarding permits for tile drainage discharges. The killer argument the brief makes is “…everyone including Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency…the Iowa Department of Natural Resources…and every single state in the Union with drainage tile makes [it] clear NPDES permits are not required for drainage tile.”

Notwithstanding these facts, the bloviating director of DMWW claims he knows better than everyone else “…is a majority of one.” No, really.  In an answer to a question, the DMWW director responds that DMWW is a majority of one and his rate payers are a majority of one. He claims he is correct and everyone else is wrong in interpreting the CWA.  The Drainage Districts and their law firm actually demonstrate to the court that DMWW’s arguments are in conflict with 44 years of consistent interpretation. The brief actually reviews the CWA’s legislative history and cites to EPA documents which declare EPA has never required NPDES permits for drainage tile. On page 18 of the Drainage Districts’ brief, a thorough discussion begins describing how Congress placed agricultural runoff under State control in 1972.

Cranberry growers eye ways to compete with Wisconsin, Quebec

The Herald News | Posted on June 15, 2016

 Faced with an influx of cranberries from Wisconsin and Quebec, agriculture officials have made a series of recommendations they hope will revitalize the 200-year-old Massachusetts cranberry industry and allow it to remain competitive.      In a report to lawmakers, the Massachusetts Cranberry Revitalization Task Force, created by the Legislature in 2015, identified possible areas of innovation in cranberry farming, such as making renewable energy options more viable for growers and doing more to conserve water. The report also highlights the need for funding for cranberry farmers to renovate their bogs to be able to grow "larger, higher-yield fruits" that have become a growing chunk of the cranberry market. "Cranberry growers in Massachusetts as a whole are not confronted by a single problem," the task force wrote in its report. "The external challenges, be they a lack of capital, production costs per barrel increasing while crop values decrease, less productive bogs and other issues, are onerous."

Massachusetts, which accounts for 31 percent of American cranberry acreage, trails only Wisconsin in terms of cranberry production in the United States. But in 2014, the task force said, Quebec eclipsed Massachusetts and produced about 500,000 more barrels of the tart fruit than the Bay State.

Iowa GOP lawmaker dumps party to protest Trump

Des Moines Register | Posted on June 8, 2016

State Sen. David Johnson, one of the senior members of the Iowa Senate, says he has suspended his Republican Party membership to protest "the racist remarks and judicial jihad" by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Johnson, 65, a resident of Ocheyedan in northwest Iowa who has served 18 years in the Iowa Legislature, said he changed his voter registration on Tuesday from Republican to "no party." He told The Des Moines Register he has not decided yet whether he will quit the Republican Caucus in the Iowa Senate.  "I will not stand silent if the party of Lincoln and the end of slavery buckles under the racial bias of a bigot," Johnson said, referring to Trump. His criticism was prompted by Trump's comments that federal Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, who is presiding over a lawsuit involving the now-closed Trump University, was biased because of his Mexican heritage. The judge was born in the United States.  "Mark me down as Never Trump," Johnson said. But Johnson also said he will never support Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic Party nominee for president.

New Montana law puts a unique spin on crowdfunding

Billings Gazette | Posted on June 7, 2016

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small financial contributions from a large number of people. The most well-known types of crowdfunding are internet-based and typically involve a donation instead of an investment. The Montana Legislature, however, enacted a unique kind of Montana-based crowdfunding law. Under the new law, the company must complete an application available on the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance website and pay a fee before soliciting investors. All investors in the crowdfunding project must be Montana residents. A maximum of $1 million can be raised (federal securities registration is required above this amount). Investors can invest a maximum of $10,000, however, accredited investors can invest more.

Businesses interested in crowdfunding must register with the Montana Secretary of State. All investment monies must be deposited into a Montana-accredited financial institution. The business must have a specific plan and purpose. All important information about the venture must be disclosed to the investor. Individuals who have been in trouble with the law or regulatory agencies may not raise money under this exemption.

Goule - New NAWG CEO plans to help wheat industry gear up for Farm Bill discussions

Capital Press | Posted on June 7, 2016

The new CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers wants to make sure farmers have a strong voice in writing the 2018 Farm Bill.  Chandler Goule will begin July 5 as the organization’s top executive in Washington, D.C. He is moving over from his previous job as senior vice president of programs at the National Farmers Union.  Goule said both organizations are grassroots, farmer-driven organizations.

The Maschhoffs, Hormel targeted in undercover video

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 2, 2016

The Animal Legal Defense Fund(ALDF) has released a video that supposedly depicts scenes of animal abuse and neglect at a Nebraska pig breeding farm owned and operated by The Maschoffs.In the video, ALDF also identifies Hormel Foods, a pork company with which The Maschhoffs is a supplier.

Louisiana rep. Anders gets bill passed removing inspection exemptions for slaughter

Louisiana Legislature | Posted on May 19, 2016

HB 515 Engrossed 2016 Regular Session Anders Abstract: Removes the exemption from inspection applicable to the slaughter of animals. Present law provides that the requirement for the inspection of the slaughter of animals and the preparation of carcasses, parts thereof, meat and meat food products shall not apply when certain conditions are met. Proposed law modifies present law by removing the slaughter of animals from the exemption of inspection.


KTICradio | Posted on May 19, 2016

Senator Jerry Johnson, Chairman of the Agriculture Committee of the Legislature, announced that he has contacted members of Congress, including the Chair and Ranking Member of a key House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee, urging Congress to intervene to require OSHA to commence formal rulemaking before implementing a significant and very costly change affecting farmer cooperatives and other anhydrous fertilizer retailers, and their customers, farmers. Senator Johnson is also contacting his counterparts as legislative committee agricultural chairs in each of the 50 states legislatures through State Agriculture and Rural Leaders to encourage them to weigh in on this issue as well.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an enforcement memorandum notifying of its intention to begin enforcing a change in interpretation of the exemption of retail facilities handling anhydrous ammonia from the applicable Process Safety Management (PSM) standards (PSM of Highly Hazardous Chemicals – 29 CFR 1910.119) that are currently applicable only to anhydrous manufacturing and wholesale storage facilities. Under the change in interpretation, farmer cooperatives and other crop nutrient product retailers handling anhydrous ammonia fertilizers, would suddenly be subject to costly compliance costs which includes costs of staffing, recordkeeping, equipment replacement and other costs. A survey of its members by the Nebraska Cooperative Council found that compliance costs per coop could exceed $10 million apiece.

State environmental department rejects federal overreach into agricultural operations

North Carolina Dept of Environmental Quality | Posted on May 11, 2016

North Carolina environmental regulators are reversing the previous administration’s decision to bring poultry operations under federal regulation.  The state environmental department will protect the agriculture industry from federal overreach by requiring poultry operations to be permitted by the state rather than by federal requirements.

The court ruled that the federal EPA and special interest groups misinterpreted federal clean water regulations by calling for poultry operations to hold a federal permit. The EPA did not file an appeal, indicating that it agrees with the federal judge’s ruling. 

Gary Baise of OFW Law and Senator Brent Jackson were involved in this win for agriculture.