Articles Posted in Agriculture Law

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Plaintiff, a Maine dairy farmer, had a business dispute with Defendant, his neighbor, and the former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture (DOA). Soon after taking office, the Commissioner recused himself from regulatory matters involving Plaintiff. The DOA eventually took four adverse regulatory actions against Plaintiff, including the action of ceasing to protect Plaintiff from the regulatory authority of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP then issued several notices of violation of Plaintiff’s license conditions. As a result, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began administrative and judicial proceedings against Plaintiff that resulted in Plaintiff losing his farm. Plaintiff brought this suit for damages against Defendant, claiming that Defendant had violated his First Amendment rights through the adverse actions taken by the DOA. The district court awarded summary judgment against Plaintiff. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) summary judgment was correctly granted with respect tot he three adverse regulatory actions that the DOA was alleged to have taken after the Commissioner’s purported recusal; but (2) there was a genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether the Commissioner’s retaliatory intent was a substantial or motivating factor in the one alleged adverse action that occurred prior to the recusal. Remanded. View "McCue v. Bradstreet" on Justia Law

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This long-running dispute over Puerto Rico’s dairy industry resulted in the principal parties settling. Pursuant to the settlement, the Department of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and others (collectively, the "Department") agreed to promulgate a regulation that would significantly rework the pricing and structure of the dairy market. Intervenors Industria Lechera de Puerto Rico, Inc. ("Indulac") and the Puerto Rico Dairy Farmers Association, who were excluded from the bargaining table, objected to the settlement, alleging that the regulation violated Puerto Rico’s constitutional and statutory law. The district court approved the settlement agreement. Indulac appealed. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that it lacked appellate jurisdiction to hear Indulac’s appeal because it was untimely. View "Vaqueria Tres Monjitas, Inc. v. Industria Lechera de P.R., Inc." on Justia Law

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William H. Kopke, Jr., Inc. (Kopke) brought an administrative proceeding pursuant to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) against The Alphas Company, Inc. (Alphas), alleging that Alphas had accepted delivery of four truckloads of fruit without paying the appropriate purchase price. On December 7, 2011, the Secretary of Agriculture issued an order awarding Kopke $50,025 plus interest. On January 6, 2012, Alphas sought to appeal the reparation order by filing a petition and notice in the U.S. district court. In connection with its appeal, Alphas submitted, on January 12, 2012, a bond backdated to January 6, 2012 in an attempt to bring it within the time frame of 7 U.S.C. 499g(c). The district court granted Kopke's motion to dismiss, concluding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Alphas had failed to comply with the PACA's bond requirements. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because Alphas did not file a proper bond within the prescribed period, the district court correctly ruled that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to entertain an appeal of the reparation order. View "Alphas Co., Inc. v. William H. Kopke, Jr., Inc." on Justia Law

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A grower, having sold table grapes to defendant, obtained a reparation order of about $ 70,000 under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930, 7 U.S.C. 499a. The district court dismissed an appeal for failure to file the bond required by the Act. The First Circuit affirmed. View "Alphas Co., Inc. v. Dan Tudor & Sons Sales, Inc." on Justia Law