On April 8, 2021, we blogged about the 10th Circuit oral argument in Animal Legal Defense Fund v, Kelly, the first amendment challenge to Kansas’ so-called “ag-gag” law.  Animal rights groups often use deceptive tactics to obtain access to agricultural facilities, where they can document animal abuse and expose it to the public.
Continue Reading Kansas Ag-Gag Law Update

We have previously blogged about ag-gag laws in general and the Iowa law in particular, the last post about Iowa being on January 3, 2020.  Animal rights groups such a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) or the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) conduct undercover investigations of farm and ranch properties to uncover incidents of animal abuse.  They often gain access to the property by subterfuge, such as applying for employment without disclosing their true motive.
Continue Reading Iowa Ag Gag Law Update

On April 20, 2020, we blogged about the legal challenge to Montana’s requirement that sellers of cattle must contribute $1.00 per head to Montana’s Beef Council to fund advertisements for beef.  Many sellers would prefer to keep the money and spend it on their own forms of advertising.

As we explained in the previous post, the legitimacy of this requirement depends on whether the government has control over the content of the advertising.  If it does, courts treat the speech as the government’s and there is no First Amendment issue.  If government does not control the content of the advertising, the requirement constitutes compelled speech, which the First Amendment prohibits.
Continue Reading Update on Cattle Checkoff

On January 6, 2021, we blogged about two California farms’ challenges to California’s regulation requiring agricultural producers to grant unions access to their property to recruit workers.  The regulation required access for three hours a day – one hour before work started, one hour at lunch and one hour after work – for a maximum

Partner Carlos Rodriguez has authored an article on International Trade Insights regarding a troubling pattern of disappearing service contracts in ocean shipping and the resurgence of ocean tramp practices.

This occurrence has impacted agricultural companies which export to China, as carriers are holding cargo at the terminal for several weeks, then increase shipping rates, and

On February 5, 2020, we blogged about the Kansas so-called “ag gag” law.  The objective of the statute is to discourage undercover scrutiny of agricultural facilities to obtain evidence of cruelty to animals, food safety violations, and other malfeasance and to broadcast that evidence to the public.  The Kansas statute accomplishes this by making it

farm and barn animal rights, ag-gag lawsFor the past 45 years, California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) has promulgated a regulation requiring producers of agricultural products to give union organizers access to their property.  Access is limited to four 30-day periods per calendar year.  Organizers can access the property one hour before start of work, one hour after end of work, and one hour over the lunch break.  In 1976, the California Supreme Court held that the regulation did not constitute a taking of producers’ property.

The United States Supreme Court recently granted a petition for certiorari in a case challenging the ALRB’s regulation.  In 2016, two producers sued the ALRB, primarily on the theory that the regulation established an easement over their property for the benefit of union organizers and hence constituted a per se physical taking, requiring compensation.  The District Court dismissed the complaint and a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed.  Over a strong dissent by eight judges, the Ninth Circuit denied rehearing en banc.

The growers argued that the regulation was a per se taking because it allowed a permanent physical invasion of their property.  The panel opinion rejected that theory, because the alleged invasion was not “permanent and continuous.”  Rather, it was limited to three hours a day for not more than 120 days per year.  The opinion also held that the right to exclude others was merely one strand in the bundle of property rights.
Continue Reading Ag Producers Challenge Union Access To Property

A recent decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) highlights the overlap between trademark law and food regulatory law as well as the United States’ and Europe’s different approaches to Geographic Indications (“GIs”).  GIs identify the particular location where an agricultural product (such as cheese, wine, or spirits) originates.

Interprofession du Gruyère, a Swiss association, and Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Gruyère, a French association, jointly filed a U.S. trademark application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on September 17, 2015 to register the term GRUYERE as a certification mark for cheese.  The Swiss association already owned Registration Number 4,398,395 for the certification mark LE GRUYERE SWITZERLAND AOC and Design.  In the new application, the French and Swiss associations sought to register the term GRUYERE as a word mark, meaning that they made no claim to a particular stylization or design.  In effect, if the USPTO granted registration of the French and Swiss associations’ application, the associations could prevent others in the U.S. from using the term “gruyere” on cheese made outside of the Gruyere region of Switzerland and France.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council and several other entities filed to oppose the associations’ application on the basis that the term “gruyere” is generic for a style of cheese in the U.S.  (In full disclosure, Emily was employed during part of this proceeding at the International Dairy Foods Association, another opposer in the case, and assisted it in this proceeding before joining Husch Blackwell.)  Most of the other entities ultimately withdrew their oppositions or the TTAB dismissed their claims.
Continue Reading The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Rules U.S. Cheesemakers Can “Say, Gruyere!”

On January 16, 2019, we blogged about the successful challenge to Iowa’s so-called Ag-Gag Law, designed to prevent undercover investigations of abusive farm practices. As expected, the state of Iowa has appealed that decision to the Eighth Circuit.

Last month the Farm Bill 2018 (Agricultural Improvement Protection Act of 2018) was signed into law. Section 10108 of that bill pertains to the Plant Variety Protection Act, which now has been amended to include Intellectual Property (IP) protection for asexually reproduced plant varieties.

Continue Reading Significant Changes to Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 – Plant Variety Protection Act Amended