Ag Subsidies Under Scrutiny, Texas Business Courts & Legal News
Global Ag Subsidies Under Pressure from Investors
In a first-of-its-kind intervention, a group global of investors managing around $7.3 trillion in assets have called on the Group of 20 nations (G20) to reform government agricultural subsidies to align with environmental and climate goals by 2030. The G20, an initiative among the world’s largest economies to coordinate international economic policy, is set for its 18th summit meeting in September in New Delhi, India. Concern about the risk of inaction on climate-induced harms to investment portfolios, the investor group is calling on G20 leaders ahead of the upcoming summit in New Delhi to link ag subsidies with environmental obligations and eliminate subsidies from ag products with high climate impact.
This sort of intervention by groups that are not traditionally associated with agriculture is increasingly prevalent and routine in ag-related legislation. As Congress begins the process of drafting a new Farm Bill, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of special interest groups will descend on Congress to shape federal farm and nutrition policy. It is also a reminder that the Farm Bill has grown far beyond simply addressing farm issues, but has become a broad, wide-ranging tool for businesses, industries, and consumers to gain benefits and direct more than $1 trillion in federal spending. You can read more from Reuters here.
Texas Creates Business Courts for Business Disputes
New legislation recently signed into law in Texas will create Texas Business Courts, a specialized court system focused on business litigation. The system includes trial courts with jurisdiction over certain kinds of business matters, with minimum dollar amounts in dispute starting at $5 million and $10 million, and a new appellate court to handle appeals from the Business Courts. The judges for the business courts will be appointed by the governor with consent of the senate, and they must have at least 10 years of experience in complex business litigation or business transactions, or experience presiding as a judge over such matters. With the new court system, Texas joins a growing number of states that have created courts specifically to handle business disputes.
Part of the motivation behind the new court system is to make Texas an attractive place for business formation and a friendlier environment to operate. Judges in the Business Court will be required to issue written opinions to support their decisions, allowing public scrutiny and the creation of precedents that businesses can follow with a greater level of predictability. In contrast, Texas’ district courts with general jurisdiction rarely issue written opinions, a common phenomenon in many states’ courts. Also, the dockets of many Texas district courts are loaded with criminal and domestic relation cases, leaving little room for complex business disputes.
Detractors of the new system are concerned that the Business Courts will give large companies an unfair advantage and create a court system for the “haves” versus the “have-nots.” You can read more in the Houston Chronicle here.
Proposed Ag Labeling Bill a Bad Bet for Agriculture
We’re continuing our call to the Ag community to oppose the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288) to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) introduced by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD). This Bill will immunize pesticide manufacturers from liability for problems or damages caused by their products. This misguided Bill ignores the fact that EPA does not review product performance data for virtually all pesticides, and has not reviewed such data for decades. A copy of the Bill is available here.
With the Farm Bill coming up for negotiation in the coming months, it would not be surprising to see Rep. Johnson’s Bill slipped into the text of the massive Farm Bill legislation for covert passage. This would be a blow to the farm community.