USDA Administrative Appeals – It ’s More Than Going Through the Motions

August 20, 2007 | Thomas Lawler, Erin Herbold and Roger McEowen

A great deal of governmental regulation of agriculture is conducted via administrative agencies that promulgate regulations and make decisions.  This is particularly true concerning the regulation of agricultural activities.  Usually, a farmer or rancher’s contact with an administrative agency is in the context of participation in an agency-administered program, or being cited for failure to comply with either a statutory or administrative rule.  Consequently, it is critical for agricultural clients to have a general understanding of how administrative agencies must first be dealt with in accordance with the particular agency’s own procedural rules before the matter can be addressed by a court of law.  This is known as exhausting administrative remedies.  But, does the exhaustion of administrative remedies by completing the administrative appeal process also require that legal issues must be raised during the administrative process so as to be preserved for judicial review?  That issue was recently addressed in a case involving converted wetlands.  

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