WOTUS All the Fuss About?

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Recently, OSU Professor of Ag Law Shannon Ferrell, and I wrote an article for Southwest Farm Press titled WOTUS All the Fuss About.  (I do have to admit that Professor Ferrell did most of they heavy lifting, including the snappy title!) The article provides an overview of the recent controversy involving the EPA and Corps of Engineers proposed rule to define “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  The proposed definition was met with a great deal of push back from many industries, with agriculture… Read More →

Surface Use Agreements: What They Are and How To Get One

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As we have previously discussed, in Texas, the mineral estate is dominant over the surface estate.  This means that a mineral owner (or lessees, as the case frequently is) has the right to use as much of the surface estate as is reasonably necessary for the production of minerals like oil and gas without compensation to the surface owner.  One way for surface owners to protect themselves is by entering into a Surface Use Agreement. What They Are Initially, I want to note that the best way to… Read More →

5th Circuit Reverses AQHA Cloning Case – AQHA Not Required to Register Clones

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On Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the AQHA in the ongoing battle over the registration of cloned horses.  [Read full opinion here.] Background As you recall from this prior post, two AQHA members, Jonathan Abraham and Gregg Veneklasen, filed suit against the AQHA, alleging that the organizations policy that cloned horses and their offspring were not eligible for registration violated state and federal anti-trust law.  In August 2013, an Amarillo federal jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, holding that the AQHA… Read More →

Have You Issued Required 1099 Forms?

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Now that we’ve settled into the New Year (despite my continuing to write 2014 on everything!), I thought it would be a good time to remind you about the issuance of required 1099 forms.  I recently wrote an article for Progressive Cattleman magazine describing when ranchers need to provide 1099 forms for services provided.    Please note that forms are due to recipients by January 31, 2015. As the article explains in detail, forms should be sent to (a) any individual, LLC, partnership, or trust; (b) to whom… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court Reminder: Read Before You Sign!

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Last week, the Texas Supreme Court opinion in National Property Holdings, LP v. Westergren offers an important reminder to always read a document before signing.  [Read full opinion here.] Background Mr. Westergen was involved in a multi-party lawsuit over the right to purchase a 190 acre parcel of land.  During mediation, the parties agreed to settle their dispute, release their claims against one another, and that National Property Holdings (NPH) would purchase the property.  According to Mr. Westergren, NPH’s attorney orally promised Westergen that he would become a partner… Read More →

January 9, 2015 Weekly Round Up

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Welcome to our first weekly round up of the new year!  There are lots of ag law stories making news this week.  *New York Bans Fracking.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he will ban fracking in the state this year.  A moritorium on the practice has been in place since 2008 and several local fracking bans are already in place.  With this ban, New York will join Vermont as the only states banning fracking, but will be the first ban in a state with significant… Read More →

Wisconsin Insurance Case Offers Important Lessons for Ag Operators

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A recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision has gained the attention of agricultural law attorneys across the country.  In this case, Wilson Mutual Insurance Co. v. Falk, the Court found that a dairy farmer who allegedly caused groundwater contamination by spreading manure on his fields was not covered by a farm liability insurance policy.  Although only binding law in Wisconsin, this case raises an important issue that all farmers and ranchers need to be aware of and carefully evaluate the potential applicability to their operation.  [Read full opinion here.] Background The Falks… Read More →

Agriculutral Law: What To Watch in 2015

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As everyone is recovering from the New Year celebrations and getting back to the grindstone, I thought it would be fun to highlight a few of the major ag law issues to watch in 2015. Water Disputes Unfortunately, this issue will likely top the list every year for the near future.  Across the country we are seeing more and more water-related disputes.  In addition to the issues outlined in my 2014 Year in Review post, there are two additional issues I think will be in the forefront this year. Water… Read More →

New Year’s Resolution: Review Your Estate Plan and Beneficiary Designations

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In addition to finding your favorite party hat and gathering up the confetti to celebrate the beginning of 2015 on Wednesday evening, this is a great time to review your estate plan and beneficiary designations.  Because situations change–marriages are celebrated, children are born, deaths occur–it is important to frequently revisit and update your estate plan.  Here are some pointers to get you started. Draft Basic Documents.  First, ensure you have at least the basic estate planning documents in place.  This includes a will, power of attorney, medical power… Read More →

Happy Holidays!

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