Big Data on the Farm (Part I): What Is It?

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Big data.  These words have been swirling around coffee shops, field days, and agricultural press over the last couple of years.  Recently, Shannon Ferrell and I wrote a paper discussing big data and drone use in agriculture.  Because this is such an important topic, I thought I would do a three-part series on this issue in the coming weeks.  Today, we will kick things off with the introductory question:  What is big data? Definition One recent Forbes article addressed this issue and explained the confusion surrounding the term.  The… Read More →

August 28, 2015 Weekly Round Up

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension photo by Robert Burns

Hard to believe we have reached the end of August!  Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week. * Waters of the United States:  Where Are We Now?  I recently wrote an article for Progressive Cattleman Magazine discussing where things currently stand with the “Waters of the United States” controversy involving the EPA’s new rule defining the scope of the federal Clean Water Act.  To read the article, click here.  Just yesterday, a North Dakota federal judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the… Read More →

San Antonio Court of Appeals Rules on Case Involving Trespass of the Mineral Estate

Texas A&M University Agrilife Extension photo by Steve Byrns

You may remember the case of Lightning Oil Co. v. Anadarko E&P Onshore LLC from this prior blog.   The case raised an interesting question of who–the surface owner or the mineral owner–must grant permission for the third-party to drill a horizontal well through the property to access an adjacent parcel of land.  Last week, the San Antonio Court of Appeals answered this question. Background The Briscoe Ranch sits just north of the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) in Dimmit County, Texas.  The Ranch includes the 3,250 acres just north… Read More →

Avoid and Survive Undercover Video Investigations on the Farm: Responding to a Crisis Situation

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension photo by Robert Burns

This is the final post in our three-part series initially published in Dairy Herd Management magazine.  In case you missed them, here are links to Part 1 and Part 2. Today, we will focus on how agriculture operations can prepare to and respond during a crisis situation.  These tips are useful not only for situations involving undercover videos, but for any crisis situation. First, there are numerous actions to consider before a crisis occurs: 1. Have a crisis response team in place. Before a crisis situation, assemble a crisis… Read More →

August 21, 2015 Weekly Round Up

Here are some of the ag law related stories in the news this week. * Study Looks at Water Used for Fracking in Eagle Ford Shale.  The Texas Water Journal recently published an interesting article titled “Groundwater use in the Eagle Ford Shale” some policy recommendations.”  The article outlines water use in the Eagle Ford Shale area, focusing specifically on water used for fracking, and offers three policy recommendations the authors believe should be considered, including mandatory reporting for all water uses, providing incentives to lure oil and… Read More →

Avoid and Survive Undercover Video Investigations on the Farm: Policies and Training

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension photo via Blair Fannin

On Monday, we outlined practices an agricultural operator can take to avoid hiring undercover activists. Today, in Part 2 of our series, we focus on what operators should do after hiring employees with regard to developing written policies and training procedures. It is recommended that agriculture operations put all policies in writing, ensure necessary equipment is available, conduct ongoing training, and monitor employees to be sure policies are followed. 1.  Develop detailed animal care and handling policies. Topics to consider include general animal handling, dealing with downed animals, euthanasia procedures, and identifying… Read More →

Avoid and Survive Undercover Video Investigations on the Farm: Hiring Practices

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Recently, I did a three-part series for Dairy Herd Management magazine discussing avoiding and surviving undercover video investigations on agriculture operations.  Particularly in light of the Idaho “ag gag” statute being stricken as unconstitutional, this is an important and timely issue.  We will be sharing the articles over the next couple of weeks and will address hiring practices, training procedures, and what to do if a crisis does occur. Importantly, an initial disclaimer.  I, along with the vast majority of folks involved in production agriculture am adamantly against… Read More →

August 14, 2015 Weekly Round Up

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Last Friday I visited with a group of West Texas landowners at the Permian Basin Oil and Gas Conference.  Thank you all for your great questions and for those of you new to the blog, welcome!  Here are some ag law stories in the news this week. * EPA To Blame for Catastrophic Spill on Animas River.  One of the biggest national news stories this week, unfortunately, involved a catastrophic spill of contaminated water out of the Gold King Mine into the Animas River.  The spill of over… Read More →

Fixed v. Floating Royalty Clauses

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Earlier this month, the San Antonio Court of Appeals issued two opinions in cases where the dispute centered around whether mineral reservations in a deed reserved a fixed or floating royalty.  These cases offer important illustrations of the care that must be used when negotiating not only mineral leases, but also when negotiating the sale or reservation of mineral interests. Legal Background A mineral owner may create a royalty interest out of either the total production achieved under a lease or based upon the landowner’s royalty interest. A… Read More →

Federal Judge Finds Idaho “Ag Gag” Law Unconstitutional

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In a much anticipated decision from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho,  Idaho Code Section 18-7042, which is commonly referred to as an “ag gag law” (hereinafter “the Statute”) has been deemed unconstitutional, specifically violating the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Background After a secret, undercover investigation by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals was released and showed abuse of cows at an Idaho dairy, a bill was introduced by several ag groups to criminalize… Read More →