The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has proposed to amend the organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. This is one of the largest overhauls since the National Organic Program (NOP) was established.
Continue Reading USDA’s Proposed Rules on Organic Enforcement

We have on several occasions, most recently on February 5, 2020, blogged about so-called “ag gag” laws, statutes designed to prevent undercover investigations of agricultural producers. Since that post, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas has dismissed plaintiffs’ challenge to the Arkansas statute for want of standing.
Continue Reading Ag-Gag Law Update

On November 5, 2018, we blogged about the circumstances under which checkoff dues violate the First Amendment.  Such dues are common in the ag sector.  Growers of cattle, for example, pay dues of $1 per head to various organizations that use the money for generic advertising.  These dues are by no means entirely popular with growers.  Large producers can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.  Many growers would prefer to tailor their own advertising rather than relying on generic ads.  Constitutional challenges to the checkoff are not uncommon.
Continue Reading Update on Checkoff Dues

We have blogged on several occasions about the status of “meatless meat” statutes designed to restrict the sale of plant- or lab-based products that look, taste and cook like meat from animals or poultry.  On February 4, 2020, we discussed the appellant’s brief in Turtle Island’s appeal of the District Court’s denial of its motion to enjoin enforcement of Missouri’s meatless meat statute.  The State has now filed its appellee’s brief.
Continue Reading Meatless Meat Update

Companies directly and indirectly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) face specific challenges separate from other businesses in dealing with the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  At the time of this writing, FDA has not offered specific recommendations on measures that regulated industries should take.  However, good manufacturing practice (“GMP”) requirements and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”) impose obligations on regulated industry to monitor and control employee health and sanitation practices as they relate to product quality and safety.  Beyond the risk of state and federal enforcement, there are reputational risks associated with inadequate management of COVID-19.

Continue Reading Coronavirus in FDA-Regulated Industries

We have blogged on several occasions, most recently on February 4, about the so-called “meatless meat” statutes – laws in which states try to protect their agricultural sectors by banning the use of words like “meat” or “chicken” or “burgers” to describe plant-based or lab-grown substitutes.  Three states – Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas – have passed such statutes and a number of other states are considering doing so.  All of the existing statutes have met with First Amendment challenges.
Continue Reading Meatless Meat Update

We have blogged, most recently on January 3, 2020, about the status of so-called “ag-gag” laws.  These laws are designed to prevent undercover scrutiny of agricultural operations to uncover cruelty to animals, food safety violations, or other malfeasance.  For the most part, courts have struck down these laws as infringing on the First Amendment.

On January 22, 2020, the United States District Court for the District of Kansas struck down most of Kansas’ ag-gag law as violative of the First Amendment.  This particular statute has been around since 1990, although there has never been any prosecution under it.


Continue Reading Ag-Gag Law Update

On October 15, 2019, we blogged about the District Court’s decision to deny Tofurky a preliminary injunction against Missouri’s meatless meat statute. The statute itself purports to ban as misleading the use of words such as “meat” or “sausage” or “burger” to describe plant- or lab-based food products. It does not contain a safe harbor if the labeling or other advertising clearly discloses the plant- or lab-based origin of the product. Based on representations from the state department of agriculture that it would not refer any case for prosecution if the product had such disclosures, the District Court denied the injunction. Tofurky has appealed.

Continue Reading Meatless Meat Update