Every state has a “right-to-farm” law on the books to protect farmers from being sued by their neighbors for the routine smells and sounds created by farming operations. But this year, the agriculture industry has been pushing in several states to amend those laws so that they will effectively prevent neighbors from suing farms at all — even massive industrial livestock operations.
The U.S. District Court in Wyoming ruled Monday that the state’s ag-gag laws are unconstitutional. The ruling comes after several years of litigation between the state and plaintiffs who argued the laws were written solely to deter monitoring of the effects of agriculture on the state’s water, land, and air.
Rep. Rob Bishop, a fierce opponent of the Endangered Species Act, recently steered five bills meant to ultimately dismantle the law through the House Natural Resources Committee, which he chairs, says The Washington Post.
During a visit to Utah next week, President Trump will announce that he is lopping a combined 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, reducing them to 37 percent of their current size, said the Washington Post.
When President Trump visits Utah in December, he will announce reductions in the size of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears and the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, "a move that is likely to spur an instant court battle," said the Salt Lake Tribune. Trump told Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, "I'm approving the Bears Ears recommendation for you ... " according to the senator's office.
Rep. Rob Bishop from Utah has worked up a bill to limit new national monuments to 640 acres, with any designations larger than that requiring environmental impact statements and potentially approval from relevant state and county officials, says Deseret News. The bill is slated to come before the House Committee on Natural Resources, which Bishop chairs.
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel calls claims that public groups were kept out of the conversation during planning meetings for the Bears Ears National Monument “nonsense.” The monument was designated by President Obama during his final days in office, but current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has recommended that the monument’s boundaries be downsized.
Siding with animal-rights activists, U.S. district judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah's so-called "ag gag" law is an unconstitutional violation of the right of free speech, said the Salt Lake Tribune. Legislators in a variety of states have pursued the laws, which prohibit surreptitious recording of farming practices, following graphic accounts of mistreatment of livestock.
The outdoor retailer Patagonia says it’s prepared to sue if the Trump Administration tries to revoke any of the country's national monuments. Trump has ordered an unprecedented review by the Department of Interior of all national monuments established under the 1906 Antiquities Act in the last two decades.
Some of the country’s biggest outdoor retailers, including Patagonia, say they won’t be attending one of Utah’s biggest outdoor trade shows because of the state’s stance on public lands, says High Country News. The show brings tens of millions of dollars to the state each year, while “Utah’s outdoor recreation companies employed 122,000 people and brought $12 billion into the state each year.”
The U.S. House struck down a Bureau of Land Management rule drafted under the Obama administration that was meant to give the public more say in decision-making around public lands. “BLM officials developed the rule saying it would increase public involvement and incorporate the most current data and technology to decide whether and where drilling, mining and logging will happen on public land,” says The Denver Post.
Utah senators voted 22-6 to urge President Trump to cancel the Bears Ears National Monument designation made in the last days of the Obama administration, reports Deseret News. The 1.35-million-acre area is used by Native American groups, including the Navajo, to forage for wild foods like pine nuts and juniper berries, and to hunt rabbits.
Last week, President Obama created the 1.3-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, bringing the total of new protected lands designated by his administration to 553 million acres. His critics are already calling on Trump to reverse the order
A Utah federal judge is deciding whether a state ban on hidden cameras in slaughterhouses defies the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The case could set a national precedent.
More than 1,600 foreign-born sheepherders in the western U.S. are finally getting a pay raise, says High Country News. Brought to the U.S. under the H-2A visa program, the workers are allowed in the country for three years at a time.
Lawmakers in Utah announced on Monday that they’re poised to sue the federal government for control of 31 million acres of public land, according to an AP report in The Spectrum.
Utah wildlife officials reported a mallard duck was the third waterfowl in the state with avian influenza since December, said the Associated Press.
The Iron County (Utah) prosecutor dropped charges against four animal activists accused under the state's so-call ag-gag law, said Associated Press. As a result, the four will each face a single count of criminal trespass.
"Four animal activists who took pictures of a large southwestern Utah hog farm pleaded not guilty" to violating a state law against entering agricultural property in order to take photographs, says Feedstuffs.