The Senate returns to work this week with key elements of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda at risk, as the Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear several important agricultural cases, including the latest challenge to California’s standards. Proposal 12 for pig and poultry production.

Judges will meet on Friday this week to discuss whether to review decisions affecting animal housing standards, year-round use of the E15 and wetland regulations. The court usually announces the following Monday whether it has granted the motions. The votes of four judges are needed to move a case through to a full briefing and arguments in court.

The cases include a challenge by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation of Proposition 12, which came into full force on Saturday and imposes minimum space requirements for sows producing pork consumed in the state, wherever he is high. The producer groups have asked the state to delay the date of entry into force of the regulation by two years.

The law also places requirements on laying hens, but egg farmers have not supported legal efforts to overturn Proposal 12.

Twenty states filed briefs in favor of the NPPC and AFBF, as did the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Pork producers in Iowa and Minnesota, state farm offices in those states, and the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council are also supporting the NPPC / AFBF petition.

On the other side is the state of California, which is supported by the Humane Society of the US, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Equality, The Humane League, Farm Sanctuary, Compassion in World Farming USA, and Animal Outlook.

The petitioners and their supporters argue that the law violates the “dormant trade clause” by imposing requirements on operators outside of California. Almost all – 99.87% – of the pork consumed by Californians comes from out of state, where compliance with Prop 12 will result in “excessive demand,” the NPPC and AFBF said in their report. petition.

The 9th US Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 for the state and against the NPPC and AFBF in July, ruling that “for the purposes of the dormant trade clause, laws that increase the costs of compliance, without more, do not constitute a significant burden on interstate commerce. ”

Court may delay outcome of ruling on petition by seeking advice from the United States, which under the Trump administration filed a lawsuit friend in short in the 9th Circuit of support for pork producers. Biden’s Justice Department has taken no position.

In June, the Supreme Court dismissed a similar petition filed by the North American Meat Institute challenging Proposition 12.

Another item on the agenda for Friday’s Supreme Court conference concerns a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which concluded that the EPA could not authorize E15 sales all year round. Growth Energy filed a petition in October, arguing that the Clean Air Act offers the flexibility to allow “blends of fuels with an ethanol concentration above 10 percent.”

The appeals court said no, citing the “plain text” of the CAA, which only allows up to 10% ethanol. In its response to the petition, the EPA stated that the petition should be dismissed and that the DC Circuit’s decision “does not conflict with a decision of this or any other tribunal, and it has legal consequences. and limited practices “.

The Supreme Court is looking closely at whether there is a conflict in the circuit appellate courts when it comes to adjudicating motions.

The latest environmental case the Supreme Court is considering concerns a long-standing dispute between two Idaho landowners and the EPA over an area of ​​their property that the agency considers wetlands. Chantell and Michael Sackett won in 2012 when the High Court ruled they could challenge the EPA’s compliance order requiring restoration of the so-called wetlands.

The EPA withdrew the compliance order, but the 9th Circuit went ahead and issued a ruling in August affirming the EPA’s determination on wetlands. The Sacketts, saying the order could be reissued at any time, filed a new petition asking for review of the Supreme Court’s breach Rapanos decision in 2006, which lower courts interpreted as adopting a “material connection” test described by the late Justice Anthony Kennedy to determine whether waters can be regulated under the Clean Water Act.

They have the backing of 21 states, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders, and a handful of conservative legal foundations, including the Pacific Legal Foundation in California, which represents them. However, no agricultural group has filed friend briefs supporting the Sackett’s, who argue that Rapanos should be interpreted as requiring a “continuous connection to surface waters” to demonstrate competence.

The EPA urged the court to dismiss the petition, again citing the lack of conflict in the circuit appeal courts. The agency also disputes the Sacketts’ reading of Rapanos, noting that in Kennedy’s ‘significant link’ test, he ‘concluded that wetlands have such a link when they,’ alone or in combination with other lands similarly located in the region, affect significant chemical, physical and biological integrity of other land covered. waters.'”

Sacketts wetlands pass this test, the EPA said. “The Court of Appeal found ample evidence that the wetlands on the applicants’ property are located in the same way as the Kalispell Bay marsh across the road and that together these wetlands “significantly affect the integrity of Priest Lake”.

The Senate returned to action on Monday for the first time since Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., announced he could not support Biden’s Build Back Better bill in its current form.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, DN.Y., subsequently assured colleagues Democrats were not abandoning passage of a version of the bill, which includes roughly $ 90 billion. in agricultural, forestry and nutritional provisions as well as a variety of biofuels and clean energy. tax incentives

In a letter to a dear colleague on December 20, Schumer said the Senate would “vote on a revised version of the Build Back Better Act passed by the House – and we will continue to vote on it until we have done something. thing”.

Also this week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Work and Pensions will vote on the appointment of Robert Califf as head of the Food and Drug Administration. Califf, a cardiologist, served as FDA commissioner for the last year of the Obama administration.

Califf’s nomination is relatively uncontroversial, although he does not get the vote of HELP member Bernie Sanders, who argues he is too close to the pharmaceutical industry. Califf served as FDA commissioner for the last year of the Obama administration.

At Califf’s confirmation hearing last month, Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Pushed him to pledge to strengthen enforcement of identity standards for dairy products to prevent their use for herbal alternatives. In response, Califf only said he was “committed to making this (problem) a priority.”

Here is a list of agriculture or rural related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):

Monday January 3

Tuesday January 4

Wednesday January 5

10:00 am – Meeting of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Work and Pensions to consider the appointment of Robert Califf as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Thursday January 6

8:30 a.m. – USDA releases weekly report on export sales.

Friday January 7

American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting begins, Atlanta.

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