December 02, 2023

The Zipline: Courting wins for America’s farmers and ranchers

As a young Farm Bureau member, I knew what was happening in my local community. I would occasionally hear about the issues at the Georgia state house or in Congress.

I knew that Farm Bureau was active in the legislative process and worked with the executive branch to ensure they knew how rules and regulations would impact agriculture.

But I didn’t realize how much work was being done on my behalf in our nation’s third branch of government, the courts.

That legal advocacy recently made it all the way to the highest court in the land — the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2019, the American Farm Bureau, together with the National Pork Producers Council, filed a lawsuit to stop California from regulating how farmers in every other state raise their pigs.

After multiple rounds of arguments, we eventually found ourselves advocating for farmers in the most important courtroom in the country.

Our team works with legislators and federal rule makers each day to ensure farmers and ranchers can do what we do best — farm.

And while we often have great success in Congress and through the rulemaking process, sometimes, we need to go to court as we fight for you.

In August, we won the ability to weigh in on behalf of farmers and ranchers when the court considers changes to the endangered species list and other environmental issues.

This case involved our support of the government’s decision to remove the gray wolf from the list. The law did its job — the gray wolf population was restored.

Because wolves are predators on farms, we shared our opinion. However, a lower court rejected our comments, saying we didn’t have a right to be heard.

The August decision made clear that the perspective of farmers and ranchers is relevant and right to allow in these cases. That’s a win for farmers and ranchers everywhere.

In another case this year, a federal district court struck down Endangered Species Act rules issued in 2019.

Here’s the thing: the court issued a decision without even considering whether the rules were lawful or unlawful. We challenged that decision saying courts shouldn’t have the power to strike down rules that are lawful.

Last month, we scored a big win as the appeals court ruled in our favor and reinstated the rules that better define critical habitat and will help speed up the decision-making process inside the federal government.

I’ll highlight one more case because it’s another important one. In a separate Supreme Court case this year, we filed a brief to share how farmers and ranchers would be impacted by the government’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

This case was argued in front of the Supreme Court earlier this month. The decision could have far-reaching consequences that impact how water is regulated on farms and ranches across the country.

These are just a few of the many cases we are involved in that impact you. Legal advocacy, like the work we do on Capitol Hill and with the executive branch, can take years to bear fruit.

But, like farmers and ranchers, we are always looking to the future and we are in it for the long haul.

Our recent successes will help clear the way so you can continue to do what you do best — produce the food, fuel and fiber that our country and world rely on.

You have America’s back. And Farm Bureau has your back.

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Georgia, is the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.