**This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.**
We’re coming to the end of another week. Here are some of the top ag law-related stories making headlines.
1. Last week, the United States House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill, after splitting out the nutrition portion for consideration at a later date. House leaders say that a vote on the nutrition portion of the bill may come within the next week or two. In the meantime, it waits to be seen what will happen when the House and Senate versions of the bills go into conference. [For more information, read articles here and here.]
Photo via Jennifer Blackburn, National Sorghum Producers
2. A decision from the Texas Second District Court of Appeals highlights the importance of ensuring that reservations of mineral rights are express when selling property. In Thomason v. Badgett, Thomason granted a general warranty deed to land, but failed to expressly reserve his 50% of the mineral rights. Instead, the deed made mention to the mineral rights that were recorded in two other prior deeds. Because the Thomason deed did not expressly reserve the 50% of the mineral rights, those rights were deeded to the new owner. [Read full opinion here.]
Bottom line for landowners: This case sets forth important presumptions under Texas law. First, courts presume that a deed is construed to convey to the grantee the greatest estate possible. Thus, the presumption is that a grantor intends to convey all of his property to the grantee. Second, it is presumed that a deed conveys all of the grantor’s interest unless the deed “clearly shows an intention to convey a lesser interest.” Thus, anytime you sell property, be sure that all rights that you intend to reserve are expressly spelled out in the deed.
3. In the last week, two articles have come out regarding the drought in New Mexico and the fact that farmers and ranchers in Eddy County are selling water to oil companies, rather than using the water to produce and sell crops. [Read articles here and here.] This is a situation that is seen in Texas as well, as oftentimes the sale of water is more profitable than the production of crops or livestock.
Critical advice for landowners/water rights holders: Anyone looking to sell water must ensure that he or she is complying with all state laws and permitting requirements.