Raising the Stakes in Farm Nuisance Cases

By Todd J. Janzen, Partner, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP Indiana farms that are the victims of "nuisance" suits by neighbors who don't like the smell, sounds, or sights associated with farming are generally protected by Indiana's Right to Farm Act. The Right to Farm Act bars...

State Net Capitol Journal Legislative Updates: Transfer of Yellowstone National Park Bison Halted

ENVIRONMENT A MONTANA judge blocks any further relocation of Yellowstone National Park bison to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. Judge John McKeon blocked any transfers until a lawsuit filed by ranchers and property rights groups opposed to the relocations is resolved (GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE). ...

Hunter-Gatherers Built Shelters Long Before the Rise of Farming

It was not that many years ago that the accepted wisdom was that villages, even small ones, were preceded by farming of some sort, if only learning to exploit wild grains. Prior posts have noted the growing evidence that this wisdom is inaccurate. Now, the evidence has grown significantly. Researchers...

The Struggle Over the Mississippi River Basin

By Todd J. Janzen, Partner, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP While most farmers go quietly about their spring planting this year, a storm is brewing over the Mississippi River Basin of which few are probably aware. I am referring to the legal struggle over establishing "numeric nutrient...

Silage vs. Curtilage: More on the EPA's Flyover Controversy

By Todd J. Janzen, Partner, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP The web has been abuzz the last few weeks with articles and editorials about the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) use of aerial flyovers to look for violations of the Clean Water Act on Nebraska and Iowa feedlots. The issue...

Atrazine Settlement Provides Millions to Water Utilities

By Todd J. Janzen, Partner, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP A class action lawsuit alleging that the herbicide Atrazine contaminated various Midwestern water supplies has been settled. As part of the settlement , Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. (Syngenta), the maker of Atrazine, has agreed...

Downstream Problems: Farmer Liability for Fishkills in Indiana

This time of year, many farmers are busy spraying crops with herbicides and pesticides. Should an accident occur that causes these chemicals to enter a stream or river—whether caused by negligence or rapidly shifting weather conditions—a farmer may find a number of state officials knocking...

Problems in the Mississippi River are Flowing Upstream: Gulf Restoration Network v. EPA

In 2008, various nonprofit environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create rules to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Mississippi River Basin. The environmental groups argued that because of the massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico—known...

Modern Agriculture's Big Five Issues (and How the Law is Reacting to Them)

For this next year, I’m serving as the chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Agricultural Management Committee . The Committee is part of the wider ABA Section on the Environment, Energy and Resources and focuses on cutting-edge issues involving agriculture and the environment, including...

Why the Chesapeake Bay Matters to Midwestern Farmers

I just returned from the American Bar Association's annual fall environmental conference. This year's conference was in Baltimore, at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. Needless to say that the environmental condition of the bay and the controversy surrounding it were the talk of the conference...

Is Ethanol Causing Pollution of Our Streams?

While watching CNBC during my usual workout routine, I heard a story about how President Obama's "Green Energy" policies had a dark side. The story specifically referred to the renewable fuels standard (or "RFS") requiring that gasoline sold in the US contain a minimum percentage...

House Passes California Water Bill Over Governor Brown's Objections

HOUSE PASSES CA WATER BILL OVER BROWN'S OBJECTIONS: The ongoing drought in California has sparked yet another new skirmish in the longstanding war between the Golden State's pro-environmental forces and its pro-business agricultural interests. Last Wednesday, the Republican-controlled U.S. House...

Three Agricultural Lessons from The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a country roughly the size of New Jersey yet is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world behind only the USA. That statistic is made even more remarkable when one considers that The Netherlands has over 17 million people and much of the country is below sea level. Our...

The European Union's Common Agricultural Policy

Our Indiana Ag Leadership trip to northern Europe included a visit to the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The European Commission is the executive branch of the European Union (EU). One of the main topics of discussion was the Common Agricultural Policy, or "CAP," the EU's version...

The Challenges Facing Liberian Agriculture

The last leg of our Indiana Ag Leadership class was to Liberia, West Africa. What we saw was dramatically different than the highly structured and sophisticated agricultural systems of Northern Europe. Liberian agriculture struggles in every area where EU agriculture thrives. The root causes are many...

Indiana Ag Leadership Program Wrap Up

The previous five posts chronicled my journey with the Indiana Agricultural Leadership program to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Liberia. From an agricultural standpoint, the contrast between northern Europe and West Africa could not be more extreme. Northern Europe has highly developed agricultural systems;...

Agricultural Leadership is Hard Work

During our Indiana Ag Leadership class trip to Liberia, West Africa recently, I saw something that has stuck with me since I arrived back in Indiana. At a United Nation's peacekeeping outpost in Ganta, Liberia--manned completely by Bangladeshi troops and engineers--I noticed a large saying hand painted...

U.S. v. Causby: How a 1940s Chicken Farmer Case Will Impact Drone Usage in the 21st Century

In 1946, a North Carolina chicken farmer sued the United States government for trespass by air. The US navy and army operated an airstrip adjacent to the chicken farm, such that the glide path from the runway extended directly over the farmer’s house and outbuildings. Normal glide paths put aircraft...

Huge Manure Spill Fines: $120,000 Plus Surcharge

Two hog farming businesses and a Director must pay manure spill fines of $120,000, plus $30,000 victim fine surcharges, for discharging pig manure into the Thames River and Sweets Creek. The manure impaired the quality of water, contrary to the Ontario Water Resources Act. The individual Director also...

Are Drones Legal as "Hobby" Aircraft?

The prevalence of drone flights on farms and in other remote locations has apparently caused some real concern at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are court cases pending to determine whether current drone usage is legal (from both a regulatory standpoint and a First Amendment standpoint...

FDA Speaks Out on Spent Grains

On April 25, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two documents to address the impact of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) animal feed Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC) proposal on spent grains, and ultimately, the impact of the animal feed HARPC proposal...

What You May Be Giving Up When You Agree To "Arbitration" In Your Farming Contracts

Although most people are unfamiliar with the arbitration process, it is common for many form contracts to contain "arbitration" clauses. The Texas Supreme Court, [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], recently addressed cotton farmers’ challenge to an arbitration clause...

Top 10 CAFO Violations

David Letterman has his Top 10 list. Now the Indiana Department of Environment Management (IDEM) has its Top 10 list for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). These large livestock producers are primarily regulated through IDEM's confined feeding operation (CFO) regulations. Recently, IDEM...

Indiana Sets Rules for "Satellite" Manure Storage Structures

A few years ago, concerned Indiana residents raised complaints with their elected officials about the storage of manure in remote ponds, or “lagoons” that were not sited next to existing livestock farms. There was also concern that poultry litter was being shipped across state lines from...

Farm Animals, Manure and Environmental Law

Here is the presentation by Meredith James on Farm Animals, Manure and Environmental Law for the Animal Law section of the OBA . The presentation focuses on the manure produced by farm animals. In particular, the presentation looks at how manure is regulated and how violations of the acts governing...