AmericanFarm.com

Proof that good comes from strife (Editorial)

(July 21, 2015) In recent years and in our present culture, the law as it relates to farming and agricultural production, has become a major consideration.
Farming’s presumed interference with the “environment” and all it encompasses, and a society which has grown progressively ignorant of agriculture and of where its food comes from, has made farming and farms an easy target for who would fault them or punish them for alleged wrong-doings.
That was demonstrated dramatically and often over three years when the Hudson family farm on the Lower Shore found itself caught up in a lawsuit brought by the Waterkeeper Alliance alleging a violation of the Clean Water Act.
Interestingly, the alliance, which itself is very well-heeled, turned to the law school at the University of Maryland whose students in an environmental course of study were assigned to work for the alliance pro bono — for free.
The fact that students in a tax-supported Maryland school were doing the legal legwork for the alliance in a suit against a Maryland farm enraged Maryland lawmakers.
It is said that good often emerges from strife. In the wake of the Hudson case — which the judge threw out of court — the university hired an Extension legal specialist and a course of study in ag law was added to the curriculun at the law school.
Paul Goeringer, who is the University of Maryland Extension legal specialist, has been busy. He has scheduled for Nov. 20 a conference on agriculture and environmental law at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis.
That’s the dominating entanglement — farming and the environment.
And Goeringer is well aware of it.
For example, he notes, 2015 has seen interesting development in legal issues related to livestock production.
In January of this year, a federal district judge ruled that manure — stored or applied to a field — could become a solid waste under federal environmental laws.
At the same time, a consortium of environmental and animal welfare groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA for failure to act on their petition to regulate ammonia gas releases from animal feeding operations.
The law as it relates to these operations is currently in a state of flux, Goeringer said.
With that in mind, he announced that on Aug. 6 at noon, Dr. Shannon Ferrell, associate professor of agricultural economics, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University, will discuss the implications of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Clean Air Act on animal agriculture, recent litigation, and other legal issues.
The webinar is open to livestock producers, Extension educators, agricultural service professionals, and anyone else interested in learning more about the potential impacts of RCRA and the CAA on livestock operations.
The webinar is free to attend. Signup is available at https://livestockrcrawebinar.eventbrite.com.
Note that one of the sponsors of the webinar/seminar is the offspring of the Hudson case, the University of Maryland’s Agriculture Law Education Initiative.