Top 10 Ag Stories of 2022: No. 8

Big Year for Ag in Supreme Court Cases on Prop 12, Clean Water Act, Roundup

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Rarely has agriculture garnered more attention with the Supreme Court than it did in 2022. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton)

Editor's Note:

Each year, DTN publishes our choices for the top 10 ag news stories of the year, as selected by DTN analysts, editors and reporters. This year, we're counting them down from Dec. 19 to Dec. 30. On Jan. 1, we will list some of the runners-up for this year. Today, we continue the countdown with No. 8 looking at the big year for Supreme Court cases such as dealing with Proposition 12, the Clean Water Act, Roundup and other cases that influence agriculture.


LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Rarely in history has agriculture garnered more attention with the Supreme Court than it did in 2022.

Five ag-related cases were appealed to the court and two were argued before justices this past year. These included Proposition 12, the Clean Water Act, Roundup and other cases that influence agriculture.

From time to time, important legal issues in agriculture find their way to the Supreme Court. In 2022, however, there were five cases petitioned to the court with the potential to result in major changes to production agriculture. Although the court on average agrees to hear about 80 out of 8,000 cases brought to its attention every year, challenges to the Clean Water Act and California's animal-welfare law resulting from Proposition 12 were argued before the Supreme Court in October.

The California law sets restrictions on pork sold in the state, requiring pork products to come from farmers who raise their hogs in certain ways. Ag groups argued before the Supreme Court that because California imports nearly all of its pork from other states, Proposition 12 in effect violates the Constitution by regulating economic activities in other states.

On the Clean Water Act case, attorneys for Idaho couple Michael and Chantell Sackett asked the Supreme Court to resolve one question: Do wetlands lose protection by the Clean Water Act if they're separated from other waters by barriers?

As the industry awaits the court's decision on Sackett, the Biden administration continues to work on a new CWA definition of waters of the U.S.

The court is expected to issue a ruling on both cases sometime in spring 2023, perhaps later.

Clearly, both cases have the potential to alter how farms across the country do business.

In addition, in 2022 the Supreme Court turned down petitions for review on three other ag-related cases.

That includes rejecting Bayer's request for review on two multi-million-dollar judgments against the company as part of Roundup product liability cases litigated.

The Supreme Court also denied R-CALF USA's December 2021 petition that challenged the implementation of the federal Beef Checkoff program.

The group had asked the court to consider whether otherwise "unconstitutional-compelled subsidies of private speech" are "government speech" free from First Amendment review.

On May 2, 2016, R-CALF sued USDA, alleging the federal Beef Checkoff program amounts to a "government-compelled subsidy of private speech of a private entity," and argued it was unconstitutional.

USDA then entered into memoranda of understanding with 20 state beef councils in Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

R-CALF argued in court that in entering the agreements, "USDA denied R-CALF USA's members -- and ranchers everywhere -- their right to weigh in on a federal program they are forced to fund."

In January 2022, the Supreme Court denied a petition filed by ethanol and agriculture groups to review a lower court's decision to throw out a Trump administration rule that allowed year-round E15 sales.

Work continues by members of Congress and the Biden administration to find ways of restoring year-round E15.


To see the other top stories of the year:

No. 10: "Farmland Values Smash Records in 2022, Undeterred by Interest Rate Hikes,"…

No. 9: " Machinery Shortages Continued in 2022,"…

"Revisiting the Year's Big Stories,"…

You can find No. 7 in DTN's top 10 list on Dec. 22.

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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