Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Climate change has already impacted USDA policy.

President Obama recently unveiled his Climate Change Action Plan. This may come as news to some, but the reality is that climate change policy has already impacted farm policy through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Earlier this year, the USDA issued a report on the effects of global climate change on United States’ agricultural production. The report, available free online, “Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation,” details the possible effects that changing climate may have on U.S. agriculture. Unlike the EPA, which has sought ways to reduce carbon emissions and “greenhouse gases” through regulatory channels, the USDA report is focused on making sure that U.S. agriculture adapts to any changes in climate.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Legalities of Raw Milk

A recent Wisconsin farmer’s acquittal for selling “raw” milk may have Indiana farmers wondering to what extent such sales are legal in Indiana.

Raw milk is “unpasteurized” milk. Some believe that raw milk has a higher nutritional content, is tolerated better by people with certain health conditions and has other health benefits.  The State of Indiana requires pasteurization, a process by which milk is heated to slow microbial growth, on all milk that is delivered for “human consumption” in an effort to prevent illness.   Specifically, Indiana Code § 15-18-1-21 states that:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Genetically engineered wheat arrives. Lawsuits follow.

A farmer in Oregon discovered glyphosate resistant wheat recently in one of his fields. Though such genetic engineering (GE) has been common in corn and soybeans for more than a decade, wheat markets have never accepted GE products—and from what I can tell, no biotech company has really pushed to change that. According to the USDA, Monsanto was authorized to test GE wheat from 1998-2005. But such wheat was never approved for sale or commercially sold.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why patent law favors Monsanto.

It is rare that the United States Supreme Court takes a case that directly affects Midwestern corn and soybean farmers. That happened recently in Bowman v. Monsanto, where the Supreme Court held that Indiana soybean farmer, Vernon Bowman, infringed upon Monsanto’s Roundup Ready patent when he planted “commodity” soybeans he purchased from his local elevator that contained the Roundup Ready technology. Although many billed this case as David versus Goliath, in reality, this 9-0 decision suggests the law was pretty well settled in favor of Monsanto. There are good reasons why Monsanto won.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thinking of expanding your farm? Don't assume the Right to Farm Act applies.

Obert's Legacy Dairy, LLC
I recently litigated a case that made state and national news involving a “nuisance” claim against the Obert’s Legacy Dairy after it expanded from its traditional 100 cow size to a more modern 760 cow farm. A neighbor, who never complained about the 100 cow farm, did complain about the smell of the 760 cow farm. Citing the Indiana Right to Farm Act, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that the neighbor had no case.