Court Requires More Detailed NEPA Inquiry for Federal CAFO Loan

Food & Water Watch v. United States Dep’t of Agric., No. CV 17-1714 (BAH), 2018 WL 4283568 (D.D.C. Sept. 7, 2018)

From the opinion:

The plaintiff, Food & Water Watch (“FWW”), has filed a nine-count complaint against three defendants, the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), the Farm Service Agency (“FSA”), and Deanna Dunning, in her official capacity as an FSA Farm Loan Officer (collectively, “defendants”), under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq., and the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321–70, seeking an order and judgment setting aside an environmental assessment completed by the defendants in connection with a nonparty farm’s “application for a guaranteed loan to construct and operate a poultry concentrated animal feeding operation,” “[d]eclaring that Defendants violated NEPA by failing” to complete an adequate environmental impact statement in connection with the loan application, and “[e]njoining implementation of Defendants’ loan guarantee.” Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5, ECF No. 1. The defendants have moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), contending that the plaintiff’s claims are moot and that the plaintiff lacks standing, see generally Defs.’ Mot. J. Pleadings (“Defs.’ Mot.”), ECF No. 17, while the plaintiff has moved to compel the complete Administrative Record (“AR”), see generally Pl.’s Mot. Compel AR (“Pl.’s Mot. Compel”), ECF No. 18.1 For the reasons described below, the plaintiff’s claims are not moot and the plaintiff has standing to pursue this lawsuit. Accordingly, the defendants’ motion is denied while the plaintiff’s motion is granted.2