Agribusiness Regulation and the Farm Bill

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Kutak Rock’s Government Disputes and Regulatory Compliance practice group has significant experience in assisting clients through regulatory concerns and related disputes, litigation and investigations as they bring food products and raw materials from growers and food product processors around the world to their customers’ tables.

Our attorneys regularly counsel clients on how to comply with and litigate alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA), various laws enforced by FDA, USDA, DOJ, SEC and state regulators, laws relating to food safety and the import and export of food ingredients and food products, as well as actions brought under state consumer protection and safety statutes. We have assisted clients facing recalls and market withdrawals, analyzed regulations, lobbied for regulatory changes and handled internal and governmental investigations of FDA, USDA, DOJ, SEC and state regulators. Our litigators also have represented clients in class actions and other disputes with private parties and competitors. Our experience extends to assisting clients with compliance and other proactive advice in designing labels, packaging and marketing materials that provide protection for the client’s intellectual property and comply with USDA and FDA labeling regulations. Similarly, we have defended clients facing challenges to their labels from the FDA or USDA, and defended clients facing challenges related to advertising and labeling claims before both state and federal agencies as well as self‑regulatory groups such as the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Our regulatory attorneys and litigators recognize that many issues that arise in the regulatory arena, particularly those involving imports and exports, inspections, recalls and market withdrawals, and pricing and competition issues, have the potential to result in litigation or other governmental enforcement actions. By working closely with our clients from the earliest stages of their interactions with regulators and utilizing the expertise of our firm’s Food Products trial team, we facilitate a resolution that minimizes the disruption of a client’s business operations, while also minimizing associated fees and costs. Our lawyers also recognize the potential collateral consequences that flow from an investigation, including reputational damage to the company or its products and damage to relationships with government regulators.

Our regulatory lawyers focus on proactive compliance advice on the front-end, but do have deep experience in handling litigation or investigations brought under FDA and USDA statutes and regulations. We have represented clients in major food recalls, class actions brought under the PSA, investigations initiated under various regulatory provisions and all manner of civil, criminal and administrative litigation with governmental and private parties.

Farm Bill

The 2005 Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of 2012. With the agricultural economy being strong and national debt issues at the forefront of political discourse, it is unclear whether there is the political will to move forward with a new farm bill. Please check back as we will be monitoring the status of any farm bill and how any proposals progress.