Employee Poaching, Laser Weeders, and Other Legal News to Ponder

Employee Poaching

Demise of the Anti-Poaching Agreement

Companies have long sought to prevent good employees from leaving because they represent a significant investment in training and institutional knowledge. In years past, one method companies used to prevent the loss of skilled employees (especially to competitors) was the anti-poaching agreement – basically an agreement between companies that they will not try to recruit or hire one another’s employees. However, in 2016 the Department of Justice issued guidance making it clear that such agreements are illegal. According to the DOJ, anti-poaching agreements are per se violations of anti-trust laws. In the last couple of years the DOJ has stepped up its enforcement against anti-poaching agreements, including the first criminal charges against a company engaging in the practice. Civil and criminal penalties can be enormous – up to $100 million in fines.

Employers would be well advised to go back and take a close look at their employment agreements and contracts with other companies to make sure anti-poaching provisions are eliminated.

A Star Wars Death Star for weeds

In the growing quest for non-chemical weed control in farm fields, a new laser-wielding robot is making headlines. Carbon Robotics, a farm-tech start-up, launched the Autonomous Laserweeder, a robot designed for row crops that uses high-res cameras to detect weeds which it then zaps with a laser. Potential benefits of the robotic weeder include reducing reliance on tillage methods of weed control, eliminating synthetic chemicals, preserving the microbiome of soils, reducing labor costs, and ultimately reducing production costs. Since no pesticides are involved, it will also enable organic production practices. The Autonomous Laserweeder is one of the more promising new technologies aimed at tackling farming’s age-old weed control challenge without undesirable side effects on soil health and microbes.

Cape Law Firm’s Frequently (or Randomly) Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a certified organic farm?

Generally, it takes 3 years if you are a conventional farm and want to transition to organic. The land that is used to produce organic commodities must not have any prohibited substances applied to it for the previous 3 years. After completing the 3 year transition period, the farm can apply for the USDA’s organic certification. If the land has never been farmed, or if it has been a long time since the last application of a prohibited material, then the transition period may be shorter.

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