Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 5 Ag Stories for 2011

It is hard to believe that it was only last January (2011) when I launched the Janzen Ag Law Blog. The response from farmers, ag industry leaders and other attorneys has been overwhelming. Thanks to Leah Beyer at Indiana Soybean Alliance for suggesting that blogging was a great way to connect my legal practice to the agricultural industry. You were right!

As 2011 comes to an end, I thought it would be helpful to spend a few minutes looking back at the top 5 Indiana ag stories from 2011:

1. Major CAFO ruling against the EPA. In March, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decided National Pork Producers Council v. E.P.A. The case was a landmark decision affecting the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The court struck down the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Water Act that allowed it to regulate CAFOs even though they did not actually discharge any pollutants into waters of the United States. This case will result in significant changes for Indiana CAFOs in the coming years.

2. Indiana Implements Animal Care Standards. The Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) adopted new animal care standards for Indiana farmers. The new standards are the first of their kind for Indiana (but probably not the last).

3. New Confined Feeding Operation Regulations. November brought new regulations for confined feeding operations (CFOs) in Indiana. Among the many new provisions that are controversial are prohibitions against manure application on frozen or snow covered ground. The new regulations also limit phosphorus application. Needless to say, the regulations have not been without their critics. The new CFO regulations go into effect on July 1, 2012.

4. Continued Tension Between EPA and American Agriculture. There were a number of stories this past year about the EPA and its increasing efforts to further regulate agriculture. Nearly everyone by now has heard about the EPA's involvement in the Cheasapeake Bay area. But the EPA's regulators were also busy outside of the Bay area, imposing fines on Midwestern CAFOs. Agribusinesses too were not off the EPA's radar. December brought a story of a soybean processor agreeing to pay $96,588 in civil penalties for failure to comply with the Clean Water Act. And who could miss all of the articles about whether the EPA was going to regulate farm dust? I predict there will even more stories about the EPA in 2012.

5. New Child Labor Restrictions Shock the Ag Community. When the Department of Labor rolled out new proposed restrictions on child labor, it faced a firestorm of critisicm from farmers and ag industry groups.

Thanks for following my blog. Look for more exciting legal ag topics in 2012!

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