February 16

Commercial Growers Who Irrigate Beware: Regional Board Takes Steps Toward Increased Enforcement of Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program

In the fall of 2017, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Board”) sent 464 “outreach letters” to likely owners of commercial irrigated farmland located in the Eastern San Joaquin County and Sacramento Valley regions. This is the first step in the Regional Board’s process to request commercial farmers who irrigate to comply with the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, or ILRP, before taking enforcement action against the farmer.

Under California law, all owners of commercial irrigated farmlands are required to comply with California Water Code section 13260 and file reports of waste discharge. There are two ways to comply: (1) Join one of the existing coalitions that help regionally located farmers comply as a group; or (2) Meet the regulatory requirements as an individual.

The penalties for ignoring the Regional Board’s request to comply can be significant. Violations may result in a misdemeanor conviction and potentially cost the farmer $1,000 to $5,000 per day for each day in violation. For instance, in August of 2017, the Regional Board settled with a farmer of 35 acres in Fresno and Madera Counties over an alleged violation of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program for approximately $27,000. However, past settlement amounts for violations of the program have reached over double that amount.

If farmers do not contact the Regional Board after receiving an initial “outreach letter,” they can expect to receive a final “outreach letter,” followed by one or more “Directive Letters,” requesting that the farmer comply with the ILRP. If those Directives are ignored, farmers should expect the Regional Board to issue a Notice of Violation and start the formal enforcement process, which may result in significant penalties being issued.

IRLP Enforcement Trend PDF


© 2018 – Hartman King PC. All rights reserved. The information in this article has been prepared by Hartman King PC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

January 1

Aminah Famili elevated to Counsel

Hartman King PC congratulates Aminah Famili for being elevated to Counsel with the firm as of January 1, 2018. Aminah received her law degree in 2010 from University of Maryland School of Law, cum laude, where she earned a Certificate of Concentration in Environmental Law. She is admitted to practice in California and Maryland, and has been with the firm since 2015. Congratulations, Aminah!

May 25

The FDA Gives Nutrition Facts Panels a Face Lift in the Name of Health

On May 20, 2016, the FDA finalized and released the freshened look for Nutrition Facts panels with the goal of allowing consumers to more easily make healthy food choices. The changes to the aged label reflect a better scientific understanding of nutritional needs and consumer habits. Compliance deadlines for manufacturers to implement the new design are July 26, 2018, or July 26, 2019, depending on annual food sales.

Perhaps the most obvious substantive changes to the 20-year-old Nutrition Facts panel are formatting updates. The caloric information is noticeably larger; in fact, “Calories” is denoted in larger font than any other piece of nutritional information. Similarly, the serving size information will increase in size, although not as drastically as the caloric information.

In addition to the formatting changes, the FDA also revamped the substantive label content based on research, recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public. Scientific studies have driven a better understanding of not only nutritional requirements, but also of consumer tendencies and habits. This research is illustrated in the changes to the required nutrients included in a label, as well as serving size requirements that are based on the amount of food and beverages that people more realistically consume. For example, a pint of ice cream may now be three servings, versus four servings.

Overall, the refreshed look and content of the Nutrition Facts label is a modernized and more logical approach which should provide consumers easier access to healthy food choices.

© 2016 – Hartman King PC. All rights reserved. The information in this article has been prepared by Hartman King PC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

For more information, contact:
Hartman King PC
contact@HartmanKingLaw.com
916.379.7533
May 25

Retailers Beware: Vintage Matters

The vintage of a wine refers to the year it was produced, and several factors greatly influence the quality of wine for any given year. For example, whether it was a wet or dry year may suggest whether the vine was stressed and hint at the resulting quality of the fruit. For this (and other) reason(s), wine ratings that score the quality of any given wine are specific to that wine’s vintage. A Cabernet Sauvignon may score quite high one year, and then, for whatever environmental or other reason, score poorly the following year. The point is, vintage matters when consumers choose wine.

This accepted logic seems to be getting certain retailers in hot water and under the scrutinizing eye of consumer advocacy groups. Recently, a class action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against BevMo! alleged a “bait and switch” strategy in which certain wines are advertised with high ratings, but the wines displayed and offered for sale next to those advertisements were from a different vintage. For instance, a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon may be advertised as rated with 93 points, but a Cabernet Sauvignon from the same winery, but a different year, was on the shelf or delivered from an online purchase. The lawsuit alleges that this “pattern and practice” misleads consumers and amounts to unlawful and unfair business practice.

The class action lawsuit is not an isolated instance. Just this month, a Connecticut-based consumer advocacy group sent warning letters to over 20 retailers ranging in size from small to large. The letters informed each retailer that the group has alerted the Connecticut Department of Consumer Affairs of the alleged misleading practices and urged removal of all “deceptive” signs, citing specific examples in each letter.

Advertising one vintage, but displaying and offering another for sale is a great example of the importance of accurate labeling and signage—for both in-person and online sales. Ensuring that consumers are provided with correct information upon which to base purchase decisions is imperative for retailers to avoid potentially enormous fines, penalties, and costly litigation.

© 2016 – Hartman King PC. All rights reserved. The information in this article has been prepared by Hartman King PC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

For more information, contact:
Hartman King PC
contact@HartmanKingLaw.com
916.379.7533
May 20

Jennifer Hartman King Selected to Top Lawyers List 2016

We are proud to announce that our founding partner was selected by her peers to receive Sacramento Magazine’s 2016 Top Lawyers Award. Congratulations, Jennifer Hartman King!