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Legal Ledger: Aug. 14

Cattle and Beef Industry News
Aug 11, 2017
by WLJ

Lawsuits and letters from CBD

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced a new lawsuit last week over the national monument review, and issued a letter “raising concerns” about how Washington has handled its wolf conservation and management. Regarding the lawsuit, the group is suing the Trump administration for “refusing to release public records about its review of national monuments and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s emails and schedule.” The group claims the administration has not responded to their requests for information and have violated action deadlines under the Freedom of Information Act. The group characterizes the behavior as an attempt to hide the process of monument review from the public. On the other matter, CBD’s letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) regarding what the group calls WDFW’s “failure to be transparent and timely” regarding wolf conservation. The letter was cosigned by 13 other groups, including the Humane Society of the U.S. and Defenders of Wildlife. “It is our perspective that the Department’s decision to only release the number of wolves killed is an unnecessary and inappropriate retreat from the level of transparency in previous removal actions. The Department holds wolves in public trust for all members of the public, and a significant part of a trust relationship is openness and disclosure,” reads the letter. In the past, letters expressing dissatisfaction have often preceded the initiation of a lawsuit from such groups.

Disney to pay in BPI case

MeatingPlace.com has reported receiving information from a Beef Products Inc. (BPI) attorney about the settlement of the case against ABC News. The case revolved around ABC’s 2012 coverage of lean finely-textured beef, which it called “pink slime.” The settlement of the case was announced in June, though no dollar amounts were included with the announcement. MeatingPlace.com reports that Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn, who led the litigation in the case for BPI, informed them Disney—parent company to ABC News—would pay $177 million of the settlement costs, and speculated that Disney’s insurers will likely pay the rest of the total settlement value. Though it still has not been announced what that total settlement is, BPI sued ABC News for $1.9 billion.

CME seeks price change input

The CME Group is seeking market participant feedback on the potential of increasing the price limits on live cattle and feeder cattle futures. At the moment, the live cattle futures have a daily limit of $3/cwt. If the first or second contracts on the board trade at limit, the following day’s trade will see an extended limit of $4.50. This dynamic is not in play with an expiring contract within the last few days prior to expiration, but the limit is extended to $5. For feeder cattle, the usual day limit is $4.50. If one or both of the first or second contracts on the board trade at limit, the following day’s limit is extended to $6.75. The CME is considering increasing these limits, noting that volatility has increased in recent years. As part of its reasoning, CME notes that— when the contract limits were established in 2004— the standard by which they were set would suggest a higher limit today, around $4 for live cattle and $6.30 for feeder cattle. CME also suggested the possibility of making daily limits variable, as in the grain and oilseed contracts. To participate in the survey, click here.

Groups go after Zinke

In two separate efforts, two different nonprofit groups involved with public lands have targeted Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. In one instance, the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers took out $1.4 million in advertising time on Montanaarea television and radio, according to area NBC News station KTVH. The ad campaign petitions Zinke to make no changes to existing national monuments in the ongoing reexamination. In the other instance, the Western Values Project has set up a website called “Department of Influence” (departmentofinfluence.org) with the stated goal “to document the revolving door between special interest lobbyists and political appointees at the Department of the Interior.”

Purdue appoints food safety pair

The USDA announced recently that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue filled some key food safety positions. Purdue appointed Carmen Rottenberg as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety and Paul Kiecker as Acting Administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). These two will serve in these roles until presidential nominees are made by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate.

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