Posts Tagged ‘agriculture and farming’

Environment roundup

  • Farmers were among leading opponents of 2015 WOTUS (Waters of the United States) rule, and for good reason [Lawrence A. Kogan, WLF, earlier]
  • “The Antiquities Act has become a tool for presidents to secure their legacies with special interests.” [Jonathan Wood/Reason, earlier] “State Officials Urge Local Consultation When Designating National Monuments” [Aileen Yeung, Western Wire, more]
  • West Hollywood imposes onerous exactions if you build multi-unit housing. Takings alert [Ilya Shapiro, David McDonald on Cato certiorari petition in case of 616 Croft Ave., LLC v. City of West Hollywood]
  • Random goofball’s letter to editor calls for violence against oil and gas workers. I wouldn’t mess with oil and gas workers, actually [Western Wire]
  • Vermont Law School, known for environmentalist mission, gets $17 million loan from U.S. Department Of Agriculture [Paul Caron/TaxProf]
  • “Is everything a crime under the Endangered Species Act?” [Jonathan Wood, related on McKittrick policy] “Vigorous Dissent from Fifth Circuit’s Denial of Rehearing Should Help ESA Frog-Habitat Case Leap to Supreme Court” [Samuel Boxerman with Katharine Falahee Newman, WLF]

Report: USDA inspectors wrote up meat packing owner over pamphlets in breakroom

According to reports last month in the religious press, the owner of a small meat-packing operation in western Michigan left some pamphlets around in the breakroom reflecting his views on same-sex marriage (opposed) and got written up for it by inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose duties, it seems, include spotting and demanding prompt rectification of hostile-environment harassment, in this case consisting of the printed word. [Reformed Free Publishing Association, Gene Veith] And Stephanie Slade of Reason has a big essay on religious liberty, in which I’m quoted, in Jesuit magazine America.

March 1 roundup

Environment roundup

Food roundup

  • In farmer’s market raid, USDA shows exactly how much regard it has for new Food Freedom Acts in Wyoming, elsewhere [Baylen Linnekin, Reason] More on Baylen Linnekin’s new book [Nick Gillespie, and earlier]
  • “Should You Take the Government’s Dietary Advice?” [Terence Kealey in new “Ask a Cato Expert” series, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • USDA orders school districts to forbid marketing of so-called competitive foods, which might raise a First Amendment question or two [Washington Legal Foundation]
  • Watch those median spurs: “Texas Rangers Oppose Bacardi’s Logo For Green Tea Spirit Because Of The ‘T'” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Surely a clever parody, no? Pick-your-own apple orchards said to shed “light on some unflattering truths about the American economy.” [Slate]
  • How progressivism and the New Deal helped promote insipid Home Economics cookery [Joseph Bottum]

Write an ambiguous rule — then pounce

Government agencies can get an unfair edge in disputes with the regulated public if they can write ambiguity into their rules, develop interpretations that open up further ambiguities to suit their needs, and then when a dispute arises gain deference from courts on these doubtful interpretations-piled-upon-interpretations. In Foster v. Vilsack, the issue was whether a “prairie pothole” depression on a South Dakota farm should be deemed a federally protected wetland, denying the Fosters productive use of the land; the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopted what seemed a strained interpretation enabling it to so designate the land, and the Eighth Circuit deferred to it.

The decision actually afforded the agency “second-level” Auer deference, deferring to an interpretation of a vaguely written agency circular that interprets a vague regulation that in turn interprets a vague statute–all to get to a definition of “local area” that is nothing close to a natural and reasonable interpretation of that term.

Cato has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the farm family’s request for certiorari, urging the Supreme Court to revisit the Auer doctrine in administrative law at least to prevent its irrational extension:

Second-level Auer deference also undermines the rule of lenity — a traditional rule of interpretation stating that ambiguity in criminal statutes must be resolved in favor of the defendant — even more than first-level Auer deference already does. It effectively allows agencies to create new crimes (again without notice to the public) by doing as little as reinterpreting a footnote in a memo. Cato urges the Supreme Court take the case so that it may rein in the expansion of Auer deference and make it clear to administrative agencies that they cannot avoid judicial review by refusing to promulgate clear, unambiguous regulations.

[Trevor Burrus and David McDonald; more on Auer deference]

Environment roundup

  • Didn’t realize former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had written a novel sympathetic to the persons displaced by one of the great eminent domain binges, the 1930s creation of Quabbin Reservoir (“Stillwater,” background) And down in Virginia: “Sixty years ago they were evicted from the Blue Ridge to make way for Shenandoah National Park. But the refugees haven’t forgotten their lost mountain homes.” [Eddie Dean, Washington City Paper]
  • Tokyo’s wide-open policy on development is one reason its house prices have not skyrocketed despite rising population [Alex Tabarrok, more, contrast with cities like Delhi and Mumbai]
  • “Chevron Paves The Way For Corporations To Fight ‘Shakedown Lawsuits'” [John Shu, Investors Business Daily, related editorial drawing FedEx and SEIU parallels] More: Roger Parloff and Michael Krauss on Canadian enforcement action in ongoing Ecuador dispute;
  • “The Environmental Lightning Rod Known as Fracking” [Ned Mamula, Cato]
  • Massachusetts voters in November will face ballot measure sharply restricting methods of handling a host of livestock animals [Baylen Linnekin]
  • Do woodpiles attract termites? Chamber backs Flower Mound, Tex. man facing billions in fines for storing wood [Dallas News, earlier]

Food and nanny state roundup

  • Has Obama administration endorsed anti-GMO campaign with new labeling law? Not really [Thomas Firey, Cato, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • United Nations anti-tobacco meeting seeks to exclude persons overly involved with tobacco production, ban list turns out to include many officials of member governments [Huffington Post UK]
  • Dumping Michigan tart cherries to comply with USDA marketing order? There must be a better way [Baylen Linnekin]
  • “I am the man, the very fat man, who waters the workers’ beer.” [Science Daily, prompting Christopher Snowdon’s recollection of that line of song]
  • Feds alone have spent $500 million chasing food-desert mirage, with “negligible” impact on health [Mac McCann, Dallas News, earlier]
  • “FDA Assigns Zero Value To Smokers Who Die Because Of Its E-Cigarette Regulations” [Jacob Sullum, more on vaping]