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An eminent domain fight, a Pigford sign-up deadline and catfish inspections

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Folks tend to get upset when land they own is forcefully taken over by outside interests claiming eminent domain. Government projects, infrastructure needs, and economic health may be legitimate reasons to invoke the law but it doesn’t leave those whose lands are taken any less aggrieved. And what if it isn’t the government that takes your land or land-use rights, but a private company?

Folks tend to get upset when land they own is forcefully taken over by outside interests claiming eminent domain. Government projects, infrastructure needs, and economic health may be legitimate reasons to invoke the law but it doesn’t leave those whose lands are taken any less aggrieved. And what if it isn’t the government that takes your land or land-use rights, but a private company?

The New York Times has a new story up on a northeast Texas family farmer, Julia Trigg Crawford, who ran up against the Keystone XL pipeline that will carry crude oil from Canada to refineries on the Texas coast. Crawford, whose 600-acre farm was handed down from her grandfather, is worried that the pipeline could pollute a valuable water source the farm uses for irrigation.

Now locked into legal actions, Crawford just wants to be left alone by the energy company. “We may lose the case. Hell, we’ll probably lose,” she said. “But I played basketball for A&M. I was raised to compete. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to get your teeth kicked in. You go out there and fight.”

Read the story here.

The sign-up deadlinefor the $1.25 billion Pigford II settlement – more commonly known as the “black farmers’ lawsuit – is set for May 11. Some have predicted around 40,000 sign-ups.

For more coverage of Pigford, see here.

When does trade and commerce trump food safety?

A recent story on the last farm bill’s mandated USDA catfish inspection program – and the various obstacles to implementing the program – provided seafood importers a chance to push against food safety worries. Despite only the slightest percentage of imported seafood being inspected and documented chemicals and carcinogens in shipments that have been, one lobbyist claims the issue is a “fake food scare.”

See the story here.

Naysayers also claim the USDA inspection of Asian catfish imports long advocated by U.S. catfish producers, will lead to a trade war with Vietnam. Arizona Sen. John McCain, once tortured in Vietnam and now a leading proponent of trade with the nation, has been especially vocal about his opposition to strengthened inspections.

For more on the catfish inspections, see here.

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