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.”