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As we approach the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 virus stopping the world in its tracks, my mind wandered to more superficial things this pandemic has changed. Namely—how we litigate . Three big changes jump to mind. Here they are: Depositions. As part of a lawsuit, the parties engage in “discovery,” which is the process of sharing information with the other parties in the case. This includes producing documents, answering written questions, and eventually, taking…
On January 27, the Biden Administration signed new executive orders to address climate change. Unsurprisingly, the orders included language directed to preserve manufacturing jobs, move towards clean energy, build a modern infrastructure system, and focus on scientific evidence. For my purposes, that is all great news. However, more importantly for this article, Biden also signaled that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will play a key role in the Administration’s climate strategy. What might…
We are about one month away from a change in presidential administrations. The Biden administration will likely bring many obvious changes to the federal government, but will it impact whether the government has jurisdiction over ground or waters on your property? In other words, will the Biden government seek to change the definition of Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”)? In August 2015, the Obama administration’s WOTUS definition became effective. Less than two years later,…
Solar farms are the latest and hottest kid on the block when it comes to renewable energy in the midwest. As farmers are facing trade barriers, unpredictable weather, high land prices, and other financial challenges, the sun is proving to be an attractive source of revenue. There are questions about what should be included in a solar lease, which Todd posted on here, and I’ll write more on later. This post instead deals with…
Last month, the Seventh Circuit overturned an injunction meant to halt an Indiana law which bans smokeable hemp. This puts the law back in play unless and until a more narrow injunction is entered. The 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the federal schedule of controlled substances and allows States to regulate hemp production based on a state or tribal plan. The 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp to include “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and…
Here in Indiana, can the government secretly record you and your family while you’re in the fields? A recent Farm Journal article on the “Open Fields” doctrine shines a light on this very practice in Tennessee. In short, several men noticed game cameras zip-tied to trees on their private property. The property was used for farming or hunting, and was clearly marked “NO TRESPASSING.” The cameras were unmarked, but the men learned the cameras had…
Sixty years ago today (July 7), Hugh Hammond Bennett died. He was the “father of soil conservation” and was instrumental in slowing the ravages of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Through his work with the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resource Conservation Service, or NRCS), he became convinced that soil erosion was a problem for farmers and for rural economies. Today, we take this connection for granted. In the 1930s, during the Dust…
The EPA is defending its decision to allow farmers and commercial applicators to use “existing stocks” of three Dicamba products (XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan) even though it recently cancelled the registration of those herbicides. On June 11, 2020, a group of plaintiffs sued the EPA and asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to order an immediate halt to all use of those products, arguing the EPA was violating the Ninth Circuit’s June 3, 2020 ruling.…
On June 3, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the EPA registration of three dicamba herbicides: XtendiMax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF) and FeXapan (Corteva). Nat’l Family Farm Coalition et al. v. U.S. EPA, Case No. No. 19-70115 (9th Cir. June 3, 2020). After five long days of uncertainty, the EPA issued a cancellation order for the chemicals late on June 8, 2020. The agency will, however, permit growers and commercial applicators to use existing stocks of…
Contracts are being disrupted, cancelled, and breached because of COVID-19 and the economic ripples it has caused throughout the world. No one is exempt from this. For example, I am writing this blog from my cold basement office, where I’ve been holed up since mid-March. My kids are banging on the (locked) door and I’m thankful my headphones are noise-cancelling. But not all disruptions can be so easily cured with Beats by Dre. Animal…