On June 22, 2017 and September 15, 2017, we blogged about “ag-gag” laws – laws intended to prevent undercover access to agricultural production facilities for the purpose of finding and disclosing unethical behavior. These laws have met with varying fates in the federal courts.

In 2012, the Iowa legislature passed an ag-gag law, making it a misdemeanor to obtain access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses or to obtain employment at such a facility by such means.

On October 10, 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and several other pro bono organizations filed suit for declaratory and injunctive relief against Iowa’s ag-gag law. The suit alleges that the statute violates the First Amendment, both facially and as applied, in that it is a content-based restriction on efforts to obtain information about mistreatment of animals.  The suit also alleges that the statute was motivated by animus against the plaintiffs and hence violates due process and equal protection.

The FDA announced 2017 public meetings and comment period on reauthorization of two animal drug user fee programs.

USAgNet discussed cost impact of California animal welfare laws.

Food Safety News discussed GAO report on drug residues in seafood imports.

Agrimoney reported on winter wheat conditions.

Reuters discussed consumer views of nutrition labeling.

The Toronto Star reported on Canadian chicken farmers reconsidering antibiotics.

Fast Company discussed the USDA U.S. food security report.

Canadian Manufacturing discussed a proposed ban on partially hydrogenated oils.

The Business Insider reported on a German grocery chain’s push into U.S. markets.

USAgNet discussed the consequences of drought on biofuel.

Fall is just about here. Autumn leaves, apple cider and, of course, football! Also, being traditionally the start of the new school year, fall is a time when start-ups dig in, push hard and perhaps even undertake a little self-reflection and planning, rushing to get things done before the holidays. I recently commented on some key issues that start-ups who were attending Techweek last week here in Kansas City, where I live and work, should consider. I thought these tips, which you can read at this link, might be helpful for my AgTech start-up friends as well. Something to read and reflect on while sipping that hot cider on a cool autumn night…Let us know if we can do anything to help with your business planning. Happy fall!

On June 22, 2017, we blogged about the Wyoming “ag gag” statute designed to discourage undercover reporting in animal facilities. The statute prohibited persons from (1) trespassing on private land for the purpose of collecting data; (2) trespassing to collect data; or (3) trespassing to obtain access to public land for such purposes. The District Court held that the statute implicated no First Amendment concerns, as it merely prohibited trespassing, although the penalties for violation were substantially greater than under the general trespass law.

Last week the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, including the proper standard of review and a decision on he merits. The appellate court held the act of collecting information on public lands was protected by the First Amendment, because obtaining information is a necessary prerequisite to disseminating it. It relied on several cases holding that the First Amendment protects the recording of public officials’ public conduct.

The Tenth Circuit recognized that not all regulations that incidentally restrict collection or dissemination of information necessarily implicate the First Amendment. For example, the Supreme Court has upheld restrictions on the right to travel to Cuba even though that would interfere with the acquisition of information about the island. The Court suggested that the application of Wyoming’s general trespass statute to trespassers in search of information might not implicate the First Amendment. But the substantially higher penalties in the ag-gag law did.

The appellants in Wyoming did not appeal from the ruling that trespassing with the purpose or effect of collecting information satisfied the First Amendment, so those parts of the statute will remain in effect. The Ninth Circuit has not yet ruled on the successful challenge to Idaho‘s ag-gag law nor the Fourth Circuit on the unsuccessful challenge to North Carolina’s law.

Given the number of these statutes and the inconsistent results reached by the lower courts to date, a successful cert. petition may be in the works.

Agweb discussed current crop price forecasts.

Newsmax discussed some early impacts of Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods.

Industrial WaterWorld reported on a brewery making beer with reclaimed water.

Science Daily discussed new research on coffee, bees and the impact of climate change.

Reuters reported on chemical and oil spills related to Hurricane Harvey.


On Tuesday, September 12, The Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) will hold a public meeting covering the U.S Government’s Global Food Security Research Strategy: From Upstream Research to Development Impact. Jim Ash, leader of Husch Blackwell’s Food & Agribusiness group, is a member of BIFAD and will be moderating an afternoon panel on the topic of Leveraging Private Sector Innovation. Tomorrow’s meeting is open to anyone who would like to listen and participate. The agenda can be accessed here and will be livestreamed here. A list of topics that will be covered includes:

  • Update on Global Food Security Act
  • U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Research Strategy Overview
  • Cutting Edge Science for Development
  • Practical Application of Research Results
  • Applying Research to Emerging Threats
  • Federal and State Investments in Agricultural Research
  • Leveraging Private Sector Innovation

The Chicago Tribune reported on McDonald’s plans to serve more anti-biotic free meat.

The Food Dive discussed a law suit against the USDA to release a study on GMO labeling.

The Financial Buzz discussed an ag coalition’s recommendations for the farm bill.

Farm and Dairy discussed a new feed intake study on cattle breeds.

The Texas Tribune reported on the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Texas agriculture.