November 29, 2013 Weekly Round Up

**This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.**

This week’s Round Up is coming on Wednesday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  I wish you all save travels and a great holiday with family and friends!  Here are the ag law stories making news this final week of November.

*  Texas Lawmakers Threaten International Boundary and Water Commission.  The battle between the United States and Mexico for water in South Texas continues to expand.  Texas Congressmen John Cornyn and Filemon Vela recently sent a letter to the International Boundary and Water Commission, which is the agency in charge of overseeing river flows on the Rio Grande, including apportioning water pursuant to the 1944 treaty between Mexico and the United States.  The letter threatens that the Commission could lose federal funding if it does not obtain Mexico’s compliance with the 1944 treaty.   [Read letter here and article here.]

*Farm Bureau Publishes Guide to Assist Veterans in Agriculture.  The American Farm Bureau Federation and the Farmer Veteran Coalition Partnership recently published a guide to help veterans in agriculture.  The guide is intended to assist beginning farmers, help make equipment available to veteran farmers, and to help veterans find farm ownership and employment opportunities.  Many returning veterans are from rural areas and desire to enter into agriculture.  According to Farm Bureau, only 17% of U.S. citizens reside in rural areas, yet 44% of the United States military hail from rural America.  [Obtain guide here.]

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*  Texas A&M Journal of Real Property Law Publishes Water Law Edition.  The Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan School of Law) has published the water law edition of its Real Property Journal.  The water law edition includes topics discussed at the prior Water Law Symposium including coping with water scarcity, interstate water compacts, the investment impact on water reliability, investment risks for water projects, state water planning, the potential impact of federal law on state water supplies, water policy, and effects of MBTA on property rights.  [View Journal here.]

*  Texas Water Development Board Approves Grand Prairie Project.    Last week the TWDB approved a $4 million loan to Grand Prairie to finance system improvements, including the instillation of 6,500 water meters in an attempt to meet water saving and conservation goals.  The loan will come from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.  [Read article here.]

* Right to Farm Lawsuit Dismissed in Oregon.  The Oregon Court of Appeals dismissed a case claiming that the state’s right to farm statute was unconstitutional.  In the case, seven neighbors filed suit alleging that chemicals and pesticides used by a neighboring farmer drifted onto their land.    The court, however, did not rest its dismissal on a finding of constitutionality.  Instead, the court ruled on the narrower, procedural ground that the request for relief was too speculative.  According to some analysts, the opinion leaves open the opportunity for the plaintiffs to file a lawsuit specifically alleging damages from the pesticide and chemical drift that would alleviate the speculative relief issue and allow the court to address the constitutionality of the right to farm law.  It remains to be seen whether the plaintiffs will appeal the decision to the Oregon Supreme Court or will seek to re-file a different lawsuit.  [Read article here.]

*California Court Rules Stocking Fish Does Not Violate Clean Water Act.  Earlier this month, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit brought against the US Department of Fish and Wildlife for stocking fish in California lakes.  Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the practice of stocking fish violated the Clean Water Act because, under the plaintiff’s theory, the fish were “pollutants.”  Under the Act, the discharge of any pollutant from a point source into navigable US waters is prohibited unless a discharge permit is obtained.  In this case, the court found that fish do not fall under the definition of “pollutants” and dismissed the case.  [Read opinion here.]

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