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By: Barry Ward, Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Each year, preliminary crop enterprise budgets are unveiled at the Farm Science Review which reveals our best estimates for costs and returns for the main row crops in Ohio for the upcoming year. With continued high crop prices projected for 2022 there is some optimism, however, higher costs will likely decrease profit margins to levels lower than 2021 margins.

Production costs for Ohio field crops are forecast to be higher compared to last year with higher fertilizer, seed, chemical, fuel, machinery and repair costs leading the way.

Variable costs for corn in Ohio for 2022 are projected to range from $477 to $583 per acre depending on land productivity. Variable costs for 2022 Ohio soybeans are projected to range from $266 to $302 per acre. Wheat variable expenses for 2022 are projected to range from $213 to $262 per acre. These are increases over last year of 19%, 18%, and 25% for corn, soybeans and wheat, respectively.

If the current grain prices and costs endure through next year, profit margins will likely be positive although higher costs may create losses for some producers. Grain prices currently used as assumptions in the 2022 crop enterprise budgets are $4.80/bushel for corn, $12.20/bushel for soybeans and $6.90/bushel for wheat. Projected returns above variable costs (contribution margin) range from $226 to $472 per acre for corn and $288 to $529 per acre for soybeans. Projected returns above variable costs for wheat range from $191 to $344 per acre.

Return to Land is a measure calculated to assist in land rental and purchase decision making. The measure is calculated by starting with total receipts or revenue from the crop and subtracting all expenses except the land expense. Returns to Land for Ohio corn (Total receipts minus total costs except land cost) are projected to range from $54 to $283 per acre in 2022 depending on land production capabilities. Returns to land for Ohio soybeans are expected to range from $166 to $393 per acre depending on land production capabilities. Returns to land for wheat (not including straw or double-crop returns) are projected to range from $99 per acre to $242 per acre.

Total costs projected for trend line corn production in Ohio are estimated to be $919 per acre. This includes all variable costs as well as fixed costs (or overhead if you prefer) including machinery, labor, management and land costs. Fixed machinery costs of $78 per acre include depreciation and other overhead. A land charge of $207 per acre is based on data from the Western Ohio Cropland Values and Cash Rents Survey Summary. Labor and management costs combined are calculated at $82 per acre. Details of budget assumptions and numbers can be found in footnotes included in each budget.

Total costs projected for trend line soybean production in Ohio are estimated to be $619 per acre. (Fixed machinery costs: $62 per acre, land charge: $207 per acre, labor and management costs combined: $53 per acre.)

Total costs projected for trend line wheat production in Ohio are estimated to be $541 per acre. (Fixed machinery costs: $36 per acre, land charge: $207 per acre, labor and management costs combined: $48 per acre.)

Current budget analyses indicates favorable returns for soybeans compared to corn or wheat but crop price change, harvest yields and other factors through fall and into summer of next year may change this outcome. These projections are based on OSU Extension Ohio Crop Enterprise Budgets. Newly updated Enterprise Budgets for 2022 have been completed and posted to the Farm Office website: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-mgt-tools/farm-budgets

In addition to projected row crop budgets for 2022, there are newly updated forage budgets posted to our Farm Office site. These include Alfalfa Hay, Alfalfa Haylage and Corn Silage. Also recently updated are two Market Beef Budgets which include Market Beef Budget (Self-Fed) and Market Beef Budget (Bunk-Fed).

 

Posted In: Business and Financial, Crop Issues
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Nile Crocodile with jaw open.
By: Jeffrey K. Lewis, Esq., Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Did you know that the Nile Crocodile has the strongest bite of any animal in the world?  The deadly jaws can apply 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, which is about 10 times more powerful than the crunch of the Great White Shark. Humans?  Well, they can apply about 100 pounds of pressure per square inch.  

This edition of the Ag Law Harvest takes a bite out of some federal lawsuits, Department of Labor developments, and USDA announcements affecting agriculture and the environment. 

Animal advocates lack standing to sue poultry producer.  In 2020, animal advocacy groups In Defense of Animals (“IDA”) and Friends of the Earth (“FoE”) (collectively the “Plaintiffs”) filed a lawsuit against Sanderson Farms (“Sanderson”), a Mississippi poultry producer, alleging that Sanderson engaged in false advertising as it relates to its chicken products.  According to Plaintiffs, Sanderson advertises that its chickens are “100% natural” with no “hidden ingredients.”  However, Plaintiffs allege that Sanderson has been misleading the public after many of Sanderson’s products tested positive for antibiotics and other unnatural substances.  This however is not the first court battle between FoE and Sanderson.  In 2017, FoE sued Sanderson for the same false advertising.  However, the 2017 case was dismissed because the court held that FoE did not have standing to bring the lawsuit.  The 2017 case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where the decision to dismiss the lawsuit was upheld.  Fast forward to 2020, FoE joined forces with a new plaintiff, IDA, hoping to file a lawsuit that would finally stick.  Recently however, a federal district court in California dismissed the most recent lawsuit because FoE was precluded, or prohibited, from suing Sanderson again on the same claims and because IDA lacked the standing to bring the lawsuit.  The California district court found that FoE could not bring its claims against Sanderson because those same claims were litigated in the 2017 lawsuit.  This legal theory, known as issue preclusion, prevents the same plaintiff from a previous lawsuit from bringing the same claims against the same defendant in a new lawsuit, when those claims were resolved or disposed of in a prior lawsuit.  Issue preclusion did not affect IDA, however, because it was a new plaintiff.  But the California district court still found that IDA lacked standing to bring this lawsuit against Sanderson.  IDA argued that because it expended resources to launch a campaign against Sanderson to combat the allegedly false advertising, it had organizational standing to bring the lawsuit.  Standing requires a plaintiff to show they suffered an “injury-in-fact” before they can maintain a lawsuit.  Organizational standing is the theory that allows an organization like IDA to establish an “injury-in-fact” if it can demonstrate that: (1) defendant frustrated its organizational mission; and (2) it diverted resources to combat the defendant’s conduct.  IDA argued that because it diverted resources including writing letters to Sanderson and the Federal Trade Commission, filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, publishing articles and social media posts, and diverting staff time from other campaigns to focus on countering Sanderson’s advertising, it had the organizational standing to bring the lawsuit.  The Court disagreed.  The Court reasoned that the diverting of resources by IDA was totally voluntary and not a result of Sanderson’s advertising.  The Court determined that in order to obtain organizational standing, IDA must have been forced to take the actions it did as a result of Sanderson’s advertising, the diverting of resources cannot be self-inflicted.  The Court held that Sanderson’s advertising did not ultimately frustrate IDA’s organizational mission and that any diverting of resources to counter Sanderson’s advertising was the normal course of action taken by a group like IDA.  

Joshua trees, a threatened species?  WildEarth Guardians (“Plaintiff”), a conservation organization, brought suit against the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Defendants”) for failing to list the Joshua tree as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  Plaintiff argued that the Defendants’ decision not to list the Joshua tree as threatened was arbitrary, capricious, contrary to the best scientific and commercial data available, and otherwise not in line with the standards set forth by the ESA.  In 2015 Plaintiff filed a petition to have the Joshua tree listed as a threatened species after Plaintiff provided scientific studies showing that climate change posed a serious threat to the continued existence of the Joshua tree.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) issued a 90-day finding that Plaintiff’s petition presented credible information indicating that listing the Joshua tree as threatened may be warranted.  However, the FWS’s 12-month finding determined that listing the Joshua tree as threatened or endangered under the ESA was not necessary due to the Joshua tree’s long lifespan, wide range, and ability to occupy multiple various ecological settings.  That’s when Plaintiff decided to bring this lawsuit asking the federal district court in California to set aside the 12-month finding and order the Defendants to prepare a new finding, and the Court agreed.  The Court held that Defendants’ decision was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to the ESA and ordered the Defendants to reconsider Plaintiff’s petition.  The Court reasoned that the FWS’s climate change conclusions were arbitrary and capricious because it failed to consider Plaintiff’s scientific data and failed to explain why in its 12-month finding.  Further, the Court noted that the FWS’s findings regarding threats to the Joshua tree posed by climate change and wildfire were unsupported, speculative, or irrational.  And finally, the Court determined that the FWS’s conclusion that Joshua trees are not threatened in a significant portion of their range was arbitrary and capricious.  The FWS must now prepare a new finding that addresses all the above deficiencies.  

Department of Labor announces expanded measures to protect workers from extreme heat.  The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is working on ways to protect workers in hot environments and reduce the dangers associated with exposure to high heat.  According to the DOL, OSHA will be implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards,  developing a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections, and launching a rulemaking process to develop a workplace heat standard.  Current and future extreme heat initiatives and rules apply to indoor and outdoor worksites in general industry, construction, agriculture and maritime where potential heat-related hazards exist. 

Deadline to apply for pandemic assistance to livestock producers extended.  The USDA announced that it is providing additional time for livestock and poultry producers to apply for the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (“PLIP”).  Producers who suffered losses during the Covid-19 pandemic due to insufficient access to processing may now apply for relief for those losses through October 12, 2021.  Payments are based on 80% of the fair market value of the livestock and poultry and for the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animals.  Eligible livestock include swine, chickens, and turkeys.  For more information on PLIP, and how to apply, visit farmers.gov/plip.

Farm Office team of David Marrison, Dianne Shoemaker, Peggy Kirk Hall and Barry Ward at OSU's Farm Science Review 2021.
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Friday, September 24th, 2021

As it often goes with farming, the weather interfered a bit with Farm Science Review this year.  We missed seeing farmers and students from across the state gather for the show on Wednesday.  But even wind and rain didn’t stop our Farm Office team, above, from presenting Farm Office Live from the Review on Thursday.   I gave an update on Ohio legislation, as Ohio’s legislature is back from its summer break.   Here’s a summary of the legislation I discussed at our Farm Science Review program.

Bills passed and soon effective

S.B. 52 – Solar and wind facilities.  S.B. 52 passed several months ago and will be effective on October 11, 2021.  The new law will allow counties to designate “restricted areas” in a county where wind and solar projects may not locate and creates a county referendum process for a public vote on restricted area designation.  The law will also require developers to hold a public meeting in the county where a facility is proposed at least 90 days before applying for project approval with the Ohio Power Siting Board.  After the meeting, the county commissioner may choose to prohibit or limit the proposed project.  Another provision of the new law appoints 2 local officials from the proposed location to serve on the OPSB board that reviews a project.  And importantly for landowners, the new law requires a developer to submit a decommissioning plan to OPSB for approval with the application and to post and regularly update a performance bond for the amount of decommissioning costs.  Watch for our new law bulletins on S.B. 52, which we’ll publish soon.

Bills on the move

H.B. 30 – Slow-moving vehicles.  The bill passed the House on June 23, 2021, and just received its second hearing before the Senate Transportation on September 22, 2021.  It proposes revisions to marking and lighting requirements for animal-drawn vehicles to make the vehicles more visible and reduce roadway accidents.

H.B. 95 – Beginning farmers.   We’ve been hoping this bill aiding beginning farmers would continue to receive attention.  It would allow individuals to be certified as beginning farmers and create income tax credits for owners who sell land and agricultural assets to certified beginning farmers and for beginning farmers who attend approved financial management programs.  The bill passed the House on June 28, 2021 and was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on September 8, 2021.

S.B. 47 – Overtime payThe Senate passed S.B. 47 on September 22, soon after returning from break.  It would exempt an employer from paying overtime wages for certain activities, including traveling to the workplace, actions before or after beginning principal work activities, or “de minimus” acts requiring insignificant time.  The bill sponsors state that it will bring necessary clarity to overtime pay in the era of more employees working unsupervised from home.

Bills newly introduced

H.B. 397 – Termination of Agricultural LeaseA bill that aims to bring certainty to farmland leases was introduced in the House on August 24, 2021 and referred to the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.  The proposal states that where a farm lease agreement does not provide for a termination date or a method for giving notice of termination, a landlord who wants to terminate that agreement must do so in writing by September 1.   Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the termination date would be either the date harvest or removal of the crops is complete or December 31, whichever is earlier.

H.B. 385 – Municipal waste discharges to Lake Erie western basin  Municipalities would be prohibited from discharging waste from treatment plants into Lake Erie under a new bill proposed by Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton).  The bill would require the Ohio EPA to revoke all existing NPDES permits for municipal treatment works or sewerage systems to in the western basin and prohibit any additional permits for that purpose.  It would also fine municipalities up to $250,000 per day for knowingly discharging waste into Lake Erie on the first offense and $1,000 per day for subsequent offenses, or to fine $100 million if the discharge amount exceeds 100 million gallons in a 12-month period. Introduced on August 6, 2021, the bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

Catch a replay Farm Office Live from Farm Science Review at https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farmofficelive.  Register at that site to join us for the next Farm Office Live on October 13 at 7 p.m. or a repeat on October 15 at 10 a.m., whern the Farm Office team will digest the latest news and information on agricultural law and farm management issues that affect Ohio’s farm offices.

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Friday, September 17th, 2021

It’s time to round up another batch of legal Q&A.  Here's a sampling of questions from around the state that we’ve recently received in the Farm Office.

My township recently notified me of having noxious weeds.  They identified "ragweed" as the problem, but the Ohio Revised Code's list of noxious weeds doesn’t list "ragweed.”  What are my rights?  Under Ohio law, you have five days to respond to the township trustees to explain that no action need to be taken because no noxious weeds exist on the property and that plants were incorrectly identified as noxious weeds.  Therefore, your conversations with the township trustees should have met the legal requirements because you notified them that plants were incorrectly identified as noxious weeds.  Having a written record is always best, just in case there is ever a dispute, so you may want to follow up with the townships trustees in an email, just to confirm that no action need to be taken. 

I read that each landowner has a ten foot right of access on either side of the fence row.  How does that work? The ten foot right of access is for a situation where one neighbor hasn’t shared in the construction of the line fence.   If a landowner chooses to build a line fence and the adjoining neighbor doesn’t share in the construction of the fence.  Ohio Revised Code Section 971.08 allows the landowner to enter the neighbor’s property for up to ten feet for the length of the fence to build and maintain the fence.  A landowner who stays within that ten feet strip cannot be held guilty for trespassing, but can be liable for any damages caused on the neighbor’s property, including damages to crops.

A neighbor is spraying herbicides on the fence row where an adjoining neighbor is raising organic livestock.  Is there anything the livestock operator can do?  There could be a spray drift issue if the herbicides are coming over onto the organic producer’s property.  The most common legal action for dealing with spray drift is negligence, and another legal theory is trespass.  If the drift causes harm, there would be a legal claim under either of those theories and the sprayer could be liable for harm caused by the drift.  Before moving right to a lawsuit, however, a letter from an attorney that explains the potential liability for the drift could be helpful.  Losing the organic certification would be costly, and an attorney would likely point that out.  Those types of letters don’t take a lot of time and wouldn’t be as costly as filing a lawsuit.  Additionally, the sprayer’s insurance policy might address negligence for spray drift and could provide a mechanism for compensation to the livestock producer.

We are in the process of buying a farm property to raise horses and relocate a small craft brewery to the location and grow hops and barley for the brewery. Can you provide information to help navigate the legal issues in doing this?  Let’s start with two separate issues—the liquor licensing issue and the zoning issue.  You may already know that Ohio has a relatively new licensing law that eases the liquor license process for small brewers—the A-1c license, explained at https://www.com.ohio.gov/liqr/permitclasses.aspx.  That would allow you to brew and sell onsite if you meet the license requirements.

The zoning question is not as straightforward and instead is an “it depends” answer.  Ohio zoning law does specifically exempt wineries from local zoning regulation, if the winery is growing grapes.  There is not a similar specific exemption for breweries, though.   In some situations, the agricultural exemption from zoning authority applies and prevents the township from prohibiting an agricultural use if it meets the definition of “agriculture.”  Some of the activities you describe, growing hops and grains and raising horses, do fit within that definition.  Processing and marketing activities, like making and selling beer on-site, only fit within that definition if they are “secondary to” the growing/production activities.  Showing that the brewery would be a “secondary” use to the primary production activities could be difficult, and there aren’t clear standards on how to prove which is primary and which is secondary.  Some townships have examined amount of the property dedicated to the different uses, some have examined financial returns of the different uses, some have looked at amount of time… it’s a bit gray and open to interpretation. 

The other way to be exempt from zoning regulations would be to prove that the brewery is “agritourism.”  This requires first showing that the activity is a cultural, recreational, entertainment or historic activity that is “agriculturally related” to the property and that the property qualifies as a “working farm” that is engaged in commercial agricultural production.  Townships vary on how closely they examine these different components, but it seems that many are becoming more  strict about what is and is not “agriculturally related” to the property.  If none of the exemptions apply, whether you could engage in the land use would depend on your district zoning provisions.  You’d want the zoning district to allow a brewery activity as a permitted use in the zoning district, or to be able to seek a “conditional use” permit for it.

If someone has a hornet’s nest in the yard in a neighborhood with a sidewalk, is there concern if the hornets were to attack someone walking by?  This is one of those “maybe” answers.  We don’t have clear legal guidance or court cases on liability for stings in Ohio, and my guess is that’s because the cases may settle out in the insurance process.  The hornet nest, though, is probably a natural situation that is less likely to result in liability on the landowner’s part than a manmade condition, especially if the nest is out in the open and easily seen.  The law expects people to bear responsibility to protect themselves from open and obvious natural dangers.  However, the fact that the landowner knows it is there could be problematic given the neighborhood situation, as in “you should have done something about it because you knew people would be walking by,” especially if it’s not easy for passers-by to detect it or if the landowner knows someone in the neighborhood is allergic to bees.  To avoid the risk of potential harm or problems, the landowner could consider either putting up a sign warning about the nest or have it removed.  The cost of removal would probably be less than an injury claim or a lawsuit.  The landowner may also want to talk with her insurance agent to see if there would be coverage for an incident—likely not, but it’s worth an ask.  That might bring the landowner some peace of mind if he or she allows it to remain.

If you have an agricultural law question, send it to aglaw@osu.edu and we'll do our best to provide an answer.  We can't give you legal advice,of course, but we can explain the laws that apply to the situation.  Also be sure to check for answers in our law bulletins on the Ag Law Library, here on the Farm Office website.

 

OSU Farm Science Review
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Farm Science Review is back!  OSU's Farm Office Team will be there, and we'll broadcast the next Farm Office Live from our farm office at the Review.  We can't promise we'll be able to ignore biscuits and gravy, pork tenderloins, bahama mamas, or milkshakes during Farm Office Live, but we can promise you updates on recent developments in the world of farm management and agricultural law. 

The broadcast will be on Thursday, September 23 beginning at 10 a.m.  Here's what's on the agenda:

  • Carbon market programs and carbon agreements

  •  Legislative update

  • 2022 crop budgets

  • 2020 Farm Business Analysis program results from crop farms

  • Ohio cash rental rates

  • Dairy Market Volatility Assistance Program

  • Highlights of FSR and upcoming programs

Who's on the Farm Office Live Team? OSU experts ready to help farmers, landowners and agribusiness professionals navigate the issues we all deal with in the farm office.  Our team includes:

  • Peggy Kirk Hall - Agricultural Law

  • David Marrison - Farm Management 

  • Dianne Shoemaker - Farm Business Analysis and Dairy Production

  • Barry Ward - Farm Management and Tax 

To learn more and register for Farm Office Live, visit https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farmofficelive.  Recordings of our previous Farm Office Live webinars are also available at that site.

Posted In: Business and Financial
Tags: Farm Office Live
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Pistol shrimp on reddish orange coral.
By: Jeffrey K. Lewis, Esq., Tuesday, September 07th, 2021

Did you know there is a sea creature capable of producing bubbles that are louder than a gun and hotter than lava?  Pistol shrimp, also known as snapping shrimp, are the super-powered creatures under the sea that no one talks about.  These bite-sized crustaceans have a special claw that allows them to form the deadly bubble to shoot at unsuspecting victims or enemies.  The sound of the pop of the bubble has been measured at 218 decibels, which is louder than a speeding bullet, and the heat generated by the bubble has been measured to reach almost 8,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making the bubble four-times hotter than lava.  Like the pistol shrimp, we have brought you the heat in this edition of the Ag Law Harvest.  

This Ag Law Harvest brings you agricultural and resource issues from across the country that have created their own noise, including animal liability laws, the reversal of relaxed environmental regulations, and requiring federal agencies to consider the impact of future agency activities on the environment. 

Farmers and ranchers begin to enjoy new protections under Texas animal liability laws. Texas House Bill 365, which expands protections under Texas’ Farm Animal Liability Act (“FALA”), went into effect on September 1, 2021.  House Bill 365 was passed in response to a 2020 Texas Supreme Court ruling which found that farmers and ranchers were not protected under FALA and could be liable for injuries that occur on working farms and ranches.  The new law prevents an injured individual from holding a farmer or rancher liable for their injuries, so long as the injuries are a result of the inherent risks of being involved in routine/customary activities on a farm or ranch.   

Federal Court revokes Trump Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The U.S. District Court in Arizona recently ruled that the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) must be vacated because the rule contains serious errors and the Trump Administration’s rule could do more harm than good to the nation’s waters if left alone.  Opponents of the NWPR argued that rule disregards established science and the advice of the EPA’s own experts in order to redefine the phrase “waters of the United States.”  Specifically, opponents to the Trump Administration’s rule voiced their concern that the NWPR failed to take into consideration the effect ephemeral waters would have on traditional navigable waters. And the Court agreed.  The Court found that the NWPR must be vacated because the rule “could result in possible environmental harm.”  The Court also reasoned that because the EPA is likely to alter the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Biden Administration, the NWPR should not remain in place.  Proponents of the NWPR claim that the Court’s ruling creates uncertainty for farmers and ranchers across the country.  

EPA revokes Minnesota attempts to relax feedlot regulations. Earlier this year, Minnesota passed a law that relaxed the requirements to obtain a “Feedlot General Permit.”  The Feedlot General Permit is usually only for Minnesota’s largest feedlots, some 1,200 farms.  The permits are required under federal clean water laws but enforced by the state.  Prior to the law being passed, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency required those farmers that applied manure during the first two weeks of October to implement one of four approved nitrogen management practices.  However, Minnesota lawmakers wanted to relax those regulations by prohibiting regulatory authorities from requiring farmers to take new steps to limit nitrogen runoff during October.  But, the EPA “vetoed” Minnesota’s relaxed regulations, which it can do when a state’s law conflicts with a federal law or regulation.  The EPA sent a letter notifying Minnesota that the relaxed regulations would be inconsistent with the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) and would result in an improper modification to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s authority to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”), which administers the feedlot permits.  Proponents of the new Minnesota law claimed that the existing permits were not flexible enough and that regulatory authorities focused on an arbitrary calendar date rather than focusing on natural conditions when limiting a farmer’s ability to spread manure.  Opponents to Minnesota’s law argue that the EPA did the right thing by using “common sense improvements to prevent manure runoff.” 

Department of Homeland Security found to have violated environmental regulations for its border-enforcement activity.  The Center for Biological Diversity and U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva (the “Plaintiffs”) filed suit in federal court claiming that the Department of Homeland Security and its agency, Customs and Border Protection, (the “Defendants”) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants failed to update their programmatic environmental analysis for border-enforcement activity since 2001, as required by NEPA, and that Defendants failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) about the impacts of border-enforcement activity on threatened or endangered species, as required by the ESA.  In its opinion, the U.S. District Court of Arizona ruled that the Defendants did violate NEPA but not the ESA.  The Court found that NEPA has two primary goals: (1) require every federal agency to consider the environmental impact of the agency’s actions; and (2) require the federal agency to inform the public that it has considered the environmental impact.  NEPA also requires a federal agency to supplement its environmental impact statement if there is ongoing action being taken by the federal agency.  The Defendants claimed they did not violate NEPA because they conducted and provided site-specific or project-specific environmental assessments.  However, the Court ruled that although the Defendants did conduct project-specific analysis, they are required to supplement their environmental impact statement for the activity/program, as a whole, unless they legally opt out of the supplementation, which Defendants did not do until 2019.  Therefore, the Court found the Defendants did violate NEPA prior to 2019.  The Court also ruled that the ESA does not require federal agencies to consult with the FWS on a broad and continuing basis.  The Court felt that the Defendants had met any requirements under the ESA by meeting with the FWS for any site-specific or project-specific analysis.  Although the Court found that Defendants had violated NEPA, the Court concluded that Plaintiffs had waited too long to bring the lawsuit and that no remedy was available to Plaintiffs for the previous procedural violations of NEPA.  

USDA announces changes to CFAP 2. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced changes to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (“CFAP 2”).  As a result of the changes, contract poultry, egg, and livestock producers, and producers of “sales-based commodities” – mostly specialty crops – can modify existing or file new applications by October 12, 2021, using either 2018 or 2019 to measure lost revenue in 2020.  The changes were published on August 27, 2021, and can be found here.