Judge Allows Yakima Lawsuits To Proceed To Trial

June 28, 2013 — While a lot of our attention has focused on immigration, dairy policy and the farm bill, June Dairy Month is also winding down with some environmental news. DairyBusiness Update’s Dave Natzke joined us on Friday’s DairyLine to share with us the latest news regarding a dairy lawsuit in the Pacific Northwest:

That lawsuit, or more precisely five separate suits, has potential implications far outside the Pacific Northwest. Late last week, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice, in the Eastern District Court of Washington, denied motions to dismiss environmental lawsuits against several Yakima Valley, Wash. dairy producers, allowing the lawsuits to proceed to trial.
The judge’s ruling covers lawsuits filed In February by two environmental advocacy organizations. The lawsuits were filed against five Yakima Valley dairies, alleging they violated the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Since the lawsuits were filed in February, those dairies have signed agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address manure management issues.  No trial date has been set.
According to the Washington State Dairy Federation,  the lawsuits seek to have routine manure management activities at dairies classified as solid waste dumps and, if successful, they could set legal precedent affecting livestock farms throughout the U.S.
From the courthouse we go to the school house.
USDA released its new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards this week, designed to ensure U.S. students will be offered healthier food options during the school day.  A 2010 law required USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools – beyond the federally-supported meals programs. Among the highlights, the standards require more whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein, as well as foods with less fat, sugar and sodium. According to USDA, the standards establish minimum standards, and will allow significant local and regional autonomy by schools and states.

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