Top 10 Legal Developments in Agriculture: 2015 in Review

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Aerial image of a rural community (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).
Aerial image of a rural community (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

This post should not be construed as legal advice.

We are slowly edging towards the end of 2015 (insert joke about the year flying by). So it is time to reflect on the top ten legal developments impacting Maryland agriculture and U.S. agriculture this year.

1. Chesapeake Bay TMDL Upheld. ( On July 6, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to set a total daily maximum load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay. Implementing the Bay TMDL will have huge impacts on Maryland and other Bay region states in coming years. It’s important to note the Bay TMDL is not one TMDL but a series of TMDLs encompassing all the water bodies flowing into the Bay. The court affirmed EPA’s use of authority in setting the TMDL, and disagreed that EPA had infringed on state’s rights with the TMDL. American Farm Bureau Federation recently filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will potentially rule on that petition later this year or in early 2016.

2. Waters of the U.S. Rule Finalized and On Hold. Number 2 on the list is also a Clean Water Act development, this time involving the hotly contested “waters of the U.S.” rule first proposed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2014. The final rule was announced in May and became effective on August 28, 2015. Numerous lawsuits were filed and currently motions to consolidate those lawsuits have been denied ( In October, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a nationwide stay from EPA enforcing the rule till the lawsuits have been resolved ( Congress has also considered bills which would overturn the new rule, but those have failed to pass. Stay tuned in 2016 for new information related to this rule.

Building built on stilts above the ocean (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).
Building built on stilts ab