New York Governor Signs Legislation to Allow Farm Distilleries to Sell New York State Labelled Beer, Wine, and Cider for On-Premises Consumption

The Associated Press reported yesterday that, “Farm distilleries can now sell New York state labelled beer, wine and cider for consumption on-site.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation approving the sales on Tuesday. The Democrat says it allows for new revenue streams and exposure for brewers, distillers, winemakers and cider makers.”

The AP article explained that, “Previously, farm distilleries could only sell state-labelled spirits for on-premises consumption. Meanwhile, farm breweries, cideries and wineries could sell state-labelled beer, wine, spirits and ciders.”

A recent news release from Gov. Cuomo including the following remarks:

Senator George Amedore said, This bill closes the final gap in the craft beverage industry, allowing farm distilleries to expand their products for on-premises consumption. With this new law, this flourishing industry will be fully equipped with the necessary tools to continue to attract New Yorkers and tourists alike to our state to see for themselves the world-class destinations that New York has to offer.’

“Assemblywoman Pat Fahy said, ‘Farm breweries, wineries and cideries all have the right to offer tastings of various craft beverages on location – this bill restores fairness for farm distilleries, who previously were excluded from that right. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law, allowing craft beverage producers at farms across New York State to thrive as drivers of tourism and local economies across the state.'”

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Collaborizm, a Kickstarter-esque Website- Specializes in Helping Companies in the Pre-incubation Stage

Steven Rocker reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “When a huge earthquake hit his hometown in Nepal in 2015, Madindra Aryal and his family had to stay in tents without electricity. He and his neighbors lived in complete darkness at night, and they could not charge their cellphones, which meant they were unable to contact worried family members.

“From that experience, Mr. Aryal, a 26-year-old electronics engineer, came up with an idea: Why not try to produce a solar-powered cellphone charger, one that would be inexpensive enough that Nepalese villagers could afford it?

“Although he knew he could not do it on his own, he set up a project called Nepal’s Light, then looked for a way to raise money, which is no easy feat in a poor nation.”

The Times article noted that, “Enter Collaborizm, a Kickstarter-esque website based in New York that specializes in nurturing companies in the so-called pre-incubation stage — before they have seed money, a business plan or even, in many cases, a working prototype. Collaborizm connects aspiring entrepreneurs like Mr. Aryal with mentors, suppliers and early-stage capital.

“For Mr. Aryal, help came fast: Collaborizm connected him to Gham Power Nepal, a utility. He also had a previous deal with Bal Joshi of, which transfers money and goods to and from Nepal. Those resources enabled him to build a prototype two weeks after the quakes.”

Mr. Rocker explained that, “After the prototype was built, 500 chargers were manufactured, priced at 2,500 rupees (about $24), and delivered to those most affected by the temblor. With the help of Collaborizm, Nepal’s Light raised $10,877 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

“With these funds, Mr. Aryal was able to build another 500, which were distributed free to rural Nepalese still living in darkness.

Collaborizm helped Mr. Aryal create weekly discussions panels to give him advice on improving the product. From those discussions, he decided to make his charger more portable by using plastic instead of metal.”

The Times article added that, “‘If we want more entrepreneurs going from step three to 60, we need to help more young ones go from zero to three,’ said Steven Reubenstone, the founder and chief executive of Collaborizm, which was set up in March 2016.”

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USDA Opens More Land for Emergency Haying and Grazing

A news update Thursday from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) indicated that, “Today, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices.

“‘We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,’ said Perdue. ‘USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.’

“For CRP practices previously announced, including those authorized today, Secretary Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant in parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that have reached D2, or ‘severe,’ drought level or greater according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states, and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming. All emergency grazing must end Sept. 30, 2017 and emergency haying must end Aug. 31, 2017.”

The FSA update added that, “Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and meet with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying/grazing. Individual conservation plans will take into consideration wildlife needs. CRP participants are reminded that a certain percentage of fields must be left unhayed or ungrazed.

“Additional information about the counties approved for emergency haying and grazing and the eligible CRP practices in this area is available at”

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Dicamba Class Lawsuit Filed, News Report Says

As suspected drift from dicamba took a toll on farmers the past two growing seasons, Monsanto — the Creve Coeur-based agribusiness company that helped give the herbicide newfound prominence with its introduction of dicamba-tolerant crop varietiespublicly urged growers not to spray illegal kinds of the product while new formulations supposedly less prone to drift waited for regulatory approval.

But a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in St. Louis accuses company sales representatives of secretly giving farmers assurances that using unauthorized or ‘off-label’ spray varieties would be all right.

“‘This was Monsanto’s real plan: publicly appear as if it were complying, while allowing its seed representatives to tell farmers the opposite in person,’ the suit alleges, based on farmer testimony. ‘Their sales pitch: assure purchasers that off-label and illegal uses of dicamba would ‘be just fine.'”

The Post-Dispatch article noted that, “The suit outlines the shifting circumstances that have surrounded suspected dicamba damage since Monsanto first released dicamba-tolerant cotton in 2015 and brought resistant soybeans to market the following year. Corresponding herbicides produced by the defendants weren’t available for either growing season, only gaining approval since late 2016. Their absence led many growers with dicamba-tolerant seeds to allegedly turn to more drift-prone — or volatile — forms of the herbicide, leaving their fields unharmed but putting nearby growers with nonresistant crops at risk.

“But even though the new, proper forms of the herbicide are now available, alleged misuse of dicamba has shot to new heights in 2017. Hundreds of complaints have poured in to state officials in Arkansas and Missouri alone, with reports of other suspected damage emerging in places such as Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Illinois and Indiana.”

Mr. Gray added that, “Monsanto and BASF cited their efforts to educate growers about correct application of dicamba.

“‘We remain confident in growers’ ability to follow all application requirements and abide by the law,’ Monsanto said in a statement. ‘The (Environmental Protection Agency) spent nearly seven years reviewing and analyzing data and research conducted before issuing a label. The lawsuit is wholly without merit, and we will defend ourselves accordingly.’

“DuPont declined to comment on the litigation, but said ‘this year thousands of growers have used these products properly and successfully.'”

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Sen. Chuck Schumer: NY Could Become The Napa Valley of Craft Beer

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that, “U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says there’s more the federal government can do to help New York’s growing craft beer industry.

“The Democratic lawmaker is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to add New York to a list of states eligible for a special federal crop insurance program for farmers who grow malt barley.

“Schumer says malt barley requires specific conditions to grow and can be a risky proposition for farmers in New York. He says that giving New York farmers greater crop insurance options will encourage more farmers to grow the crop.”

For more details on this issue, see this recent press release from Friday.

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Sales of Previously Owned U.S. Homes Fell in June

Laura Kusisto and Sarah Chaney reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell in June and prices jumped as strong demand overwhelmed a pinched supply of available homes.”Existing home sales fell 1.8% in June from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.52 million, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

“The median sales price in June hit a record high of $263,800, up 6.5% from a year earlier. Adjusted for inflation, prices remained about 9% below the 2006 peak.”

The Journal writers indicated that, “Existing home sale have been bumpy throughout the critical spring selling season. Sales rose modestly in May but declined in April, according to NAR.

First-time buyers are looking to make purchases, according to economists and recent housing-market data, but are finding few affordably priced homes. Owners, meanwhile, have been more inclined to stay put and renovate rather than brave bidding wars and prices that are significantly higher than what they paid a few years ago.

“‘The musical chairs phenomenon of people not wanting to actually list their own home because they don’t want to be buyers again means that they have to make their own homes work,’ said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at home listings site Zillow.”

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Farm Start-up Plenty Raises $200 Million

An article posted last week at the BBC Online reported that, “Plenty, a San Francisco vertical farming start-up, has raised $200m (£154m) from big-name investors that include Japanese media giant SoftBank, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

“Plenty said it would use the money to expand in the US and abroad.

“The firm, founded in 2013, has an indoor growing system that uses less space and water than traditional farms.”

The BBC update noted that, “It plans to bring its first self-grown food to market this fall.

“‘We’re now ready to build out our farm network and serve communities around the globe,’ said Matt Barnard, chief executive and co-founder.

“Plenty employs 100 people in three facilities in San Francisco and Wyoming. It has raised more than $226m since its start.”

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Farmer Complaints Regarding Dicamba in Minnesota

Mark Steil reported late last week at Minnesota Public Radio Online that, “The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is investigating about two dozen complaints from farmers about the weed killer dicamba.

“Dicamba is used on soybean fields that have been genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide. But Minnesota farmers have joined hundreds in the southern U.S. who allege that drifting dicamba hurts non-resistant fields.”

The update stated that, “Affected farmers often blame Monsanto, one of the nation’s largest agribusiness corporations which brought dicamba-resistant soybeans to the market.

“Monsanto chief technology officer Robb Fraley said there are small-scale drift problems like any herbicide can experience. But he said most of the damage is caused by farmer error.

“‘The vast majority of the farmers who’ve used this tool have used it safely and effectively,’ Fraley said.”

Last week’s MPR update added that, “But just where the blame lies for the dicamba problems should become clearer in the months ahead. Lab tests of vegetation from damaged fields should prove if dicamba is to blame.

“Like other states, the Minnesota agriculture department is investigating complaints about the herbicide.

Greg Cremers, a supervisor in the agency’s pesticide and fertilizer management division, said the dicamba complaints starting coming in about 10 days ago.”

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New Crop Insurance Plan for Triticale Now Available in Three States

A news release earlier this week from USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) stated that, “[RMA] wants to inform producers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington about a new insurance plan option for the crop triticale. Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye and can be covered through this new plan.

“Insurance for triticale is now available for the 2018 crop year in Idaho: Ada, Bannock, Bear Lake, Benewah, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Canyon, Caribou, Cassia, Clearwater, Elmore, Franklin, Freemont, Gooding, Idaho, Jefferson, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Lincoln, Madison, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Oneida, Owyhee, Payette, Power, Teton and Twin Falls counties; Oregon: Gilliam, Jefferson, Klamath, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Polk, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill counties; and Washington: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Douglas, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Skagit, Spokane, Walla Walla, Whitman and Yakima counties.”

The update explained that, “Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Growers can use the RMA Cost Estimator to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs online.”

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Indiana Farmers Filing Complaints About Dicamba

An update posted yesterday at WFYI (Indianapolis Public Radio) indicated that, “Indiana farmers are filing complaints about a controversial herbicide, dicamba, that’s allegedly drifting from neighboring fields and damaging their crops.

“Monsanto, DuPont, and BASF all released dicamba tolerant soybeans for this planting season. The herbicide is reportedly causing problems, says Dave Scott, the pesticide administrator for the Office of the Indiana State Chemist.”

Yesterday’s update noted that, “As of July 19, farmers have filled 66 complaints that allege their crops have been damaged by dicamba. Scott says that’s ‘a lot’ of complaints, especially for one product in a two to three-week period.

“The Office of the Indiana State Chemist is investigating the complaints. They say it could be months before investigators can determine if the reported crop damage was caused by dicamba, and whether applicators used the product correctly.

“In a statement, Monsanto says it’s critical ‘that farmers follow all local rules and label requirements.'”

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