So Much News, So Little Time

The past couple weeks I’ve either been traveling, camping, or preparing for trips. Leave the keyboard for a couple weeks and all kinds of interesting things happen.

It’s SCOTUS season, with the Supreme Court handing down some long-awaited (and some less-awaited) decisions to close out the 2012-13 term. In one of them, Horne v. Department of Agriculture, the Court unanimously ruled that agricultural producers had the right to contest the marketing order set-asides as “takings” and sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit for further consideration. The SCOTUS ruling itself opens a potential host of legal challenges not just from agricultural producers, but any businesses that seek to challenge regulatory fines (see here). Now the Ninth Circuit will have to deal with the takings issue itself, which I discussed previously (here).

The SCOTUS also ruled on a land use property rights case that has potential implications for a wide range of businesses, including agricultural producers and agribusinesses. Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District expanded the scope of the Court’s rulings in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission and Dolan v. City of Tigard, which set limitations on the government’s ability to impair property interests with land use regulations. This case deserves a little more digging for those interested in land use restrictions and required environmental concessions.

And finally, the US House of Representatives showed that no political backscratching is exempt from ideological divides as it failed to pass its own version of the Farm Bill. Republicans who felt the programs contained in the bill needed to be cut further teamed with Democrats who believed the cuts were already too large to kill the bill. Most of the disagreement had less to do with farming, per se, than with food stamps and other nutritional subsidy programs. “Oh SNAP!” indeed!

Perhaps I’ll get some time to go back and look at each of these in a little more detail and write more on each–or at some of the other issues that have come up over the past couple week.