Legal Advocacy

The American Farm Bureau Federation is the leading national advocate for U.S. farmers and ranchers in the courts. As the Voice of Agriculture®, AFBF initiates or joins litigation to shape many of the laws that affect farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to conduct their operations. Farm Bureau member dues support AFBF’s Legal Advocacy efforts to maintain a functional U.S. legal and regulatory climate so farmers and ranchers can be productive stewards of our natural resources.

Promoting. Preserving. Defending.

AFBF promotes strong protection of property and privacy rights.

AFBF preserves access to biotechnology and pesticide products.

AFBF defends against regulatory overreach.

Recent Legal Advocacy Highlights

March 28, 2022

The United States Supreme Court agrees to hear AFBF and the National Pork Producer Council’s (NPPC) challenge to California Proposition 12 (Prop 12). Prop 12 imposes animal housing standards that reach outside of California’s borders to farmers across the United States.

December 23, 2021

AFBF filed an amicus brief in support of an appeal by hundreds of farmers along the Missouri River who had their lands intentionally and permanently flooded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

September 10, 2021

AFBF and an industry coalition filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to build on the wins we helped to achieve in Kisor v. Wilkie and U.S. v. Nasir—that courts should not defer to agency interpretations where the underlying statute or rule is unambiguous.

June 21, 2021

A federal court granted an AFBF coalition’s request to dismiss a challenge to the 2020 updated NEPA regulations. The updated rules promote more efficient, effective, and timely environmental reviews by all Federal agencies. In addition, the 2020 rules create an exemption from NEPA reviews for FSA and SBA loans and guarantees to farms and ranches.

April 22, 2021

AFBF and a broad grower group coalition filed an amicus brief in support of allowing the continued use of sulfoxaflor, a relatively new insecticide.

February 9, 2022

AFBF and a coalition of grower groups and registrant Gharda Chemicals sued the EPA, challenging the agency’s decision to revoke tolerances for chlorpyrifos. EPA has revoked all tolerances despite previously finding that the pesticide is safe for 11 key crop uses in select regions.

September 27, 2021

AFBF and NPPC appealed our challenge to California Prop 12 to the United States Supreme Court. AFBF and NPPC’s case received tremendous amici support from six different groups, including twenty state attorneys general, national industry associations, the Cato Institute, the Canadian Pork Council, and farmer coalitions led by the North Carolina, Minnesota, and Iowa Farm Bureaus.

June 23, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court held (6-3) that a California regulation allowing union organizers onto farms deprives farmers of the right to exclude others from their private party and therefore violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. AFBF filed amicus briefs at both the cert and merits stage in support of farmers’ right to exclude.

May 17, 2021

AFBF and an industry coalition moved to intervene in several challenges to the delisting of the gray wolf.

March 31, 2021

AFBF and Growth Energy (a biofuels trade association) filed an amicus in the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the EPA’s increased granting of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The SREs have allowed small refiners to forego their RFS requirements to blend an increasing quantity of biofuels into their products.

Fighting Regulatory Overreach

photo credit: MOFB

AFBF led the charge against an expansive rule redefining “navigable waters” or “Waters of the United States” to cover millions of acres of farmed wetlands, ditches and other land features that only carry water when it rains.

When EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the rule, AFBF took the battle to the courts. AFBF’s legal advocacy resulted in the rule being found unlawful and stopped in 28 states, leading to EPA and the Corps repealing and replacing the rule with a much more workable solution.

With a new and clearer rule defining “Waters of the United States” in place, AFBF is now defending sensible regulation that balances environmental protection and agriculture.

Defending Against Activist Litigation

AFBF defends against citizens’ suits seeking to impose regulatory hurdles and restrict agricultural production.

Activist groups often use the courts to further complicate the web of federal regulations with the goal of imposing unreasonable restrictions on agricultural inputs and permit requirements. AFBF intervenes in litigation to defend reasonable and science-based rules that allow productive use of the land while also preserving the environment.

Protecting Species and Agriculture

AFBF works to bring balance to the Endangered Species Act, protecting species while also preserving farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to work the land.

Overbroad interpretations of Endangered Species Act requirements can needlessly curtail agriculture and other economic activity. AFBF frequently intervenes in cases to defend reasonable rules that allow farming and ranching to continue while promoting species recovery.

Property and Privacy Rights

AFBF has won major victories to safeguard the property and privacy rights of farming and ranching families.

In 2019, AFBF helped overturn a 34-year precedent in the Supreme Court which now makes it easier for farmers and ranchers to receive just compensation when local and state governments take their land.

That same year, AFBF helped overturn a 43-year precedent in the Supreme Court to better protect farmers’ and ranchers’ confidential business information from activist groups.

In 2021, AFBF helped win a major victory in the Supreme Court confirming farmers’ and ranchers’ right to exclude others from their property.

AFBF was also able to stop EPA from compiling and publicly releasing to activist groups the names, home addresses, GPS coordinates, personal phone numbers and email addresses of tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers across the nation. We believe government should safeguard citizens’ personal and financial information, not serve as a clearing house to distribute it.

Productive Use of Federal Lands

AFBF fights to maintain a robust livestock grazing industry on federal and privately owned lands.

For example, AFBF intervened in multiple lawsuits to defend the government’s ability to reduce the size of overly expansive national monuments which limit ranchers’ access for livestock grazing.

AFBF also intervened in a lawsuit to block the federal government’s push to eliminate the mandate of “multiple use” on federal lands in favor of a singleminded focus on species protection. AFBF will fight to maintain the ability of ranchers to utilize federal lands and protect their water rights.