Author Archives: tdowell

Lessons from My Agricultural Law Course (Part 1): What Is Agricultural Law?

This semester I am teaching a course on Agricultural Law at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Ft. Worth.  As part of that, I have gathered up materials on a variety of agricultural law related issues for my students.  One of my main goals is to share practical information with my students that will help them in the event they end up in rural Texas practicing agricultural law.  In light of that, I thought that I would share some of the more interesting articles I come… Read More →

NM Supreme Court Opinion Important for Oil and Gas Companies and Royalty Owners

A recent decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court is important for all oil and gas companies operating in New Mexico, and also offers an important lesson for royalty interest owners across the country.  In The First Baptist Church of Roswell v. Yates Petroleum Corp., the Court ruled that the royalty owner was entitled to interest on monies held in a suspense account based on a state statute, despite a contractual agreement between the parties to the contrary.  [To read the full opinion, click here.] Background The plaintiffs represent a class of… Read More →

September 26, 2014 Weekly Round Up

This week was another busy one as I was out and about speaking at programs in Austin, Huntsville, and Ozona.  Last Saturday, I was honored to be on a panel discussing the Future of Texas Agriculture at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin.  It was a wonderful event and the other folks on the panel, Blair Fitzsimons, Rep. Tracy King, Sid Miller, and Jim Sartwelle were absolutely fantastic.  I appreciate Evan Smith’s invitation to participate in this event.  To view the live blog overview of our session, click… Read More →

Interviews Related to Proposed RRC Eminent Domain Rule Change

As we previously discussed on this blog, the Texas Railroad Commission is currently considering a proposed rule change that would modify the requirements for a pipeline to be granted eminent domain authority as a “common carrier.”  The period for written public comment has now closed on the rule and a public hearing was held on this issue on Monday morning in Austin.  The Railroad Commission will now move forward with its evaluation of the rule and consideration of the comments received.  To view all comments sent to the Railroad Commission,… Read More →

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: Are Life Insurance Proceeds Part of Taxible Estate?

Question:  If I have a $1 million life insurance policy, are the proceeds of that policy considered as part of my gross taxable estate for determining federal estate taxes at my death? Answer:  As is the answer for most legal questions, it depends.  This is an issue that many people are unaware of and that may have significant estate planning implications.  In light of that, a detailed discussion is necessary. Why Should We Care? The reason that the answer to this question is so important is that people… Read More →

September 19, 2014 Weekly Round Up

I kicked off the week in Lubbock for the Southwest Council of Agribusiness meeting where I presented on important legal issues facing Texas producers.  It was a great meeting and I thank Tom Sell for the opportunity to attend and speak.  On Friday, I was off to Bellville to speak at the Multi County New Landowners Educational Series on laws impacting rural landowners.  What a fun group of people that included!  I was very impressed by the new landowner program, put together by Philip Shackelford, Kara Matheney and… Read More →

New Mexico Green Chile Advertising Act

As a native New Mexican, the fall means that it is my favorite time of the year….green chile season.  My home state is famous for our flavorful green chile crop and for good reason! New Mexico recently passed an interesting law  to ensure that only green chile that is truly New Mexican may be advertised as such within the state.  This law illustrates the importance of this agricultural crop to the State of New Mexico and helps to ensure truth in advertising.  Because numerous other states have similarly… Read More →

Custom Farming Operations Should Consider Limiting Liability with Business Entity Selection

With the fall comes harvest time, which means we’ll be seeing more combines in the fields.  One of my favorite sights! Custom harvesting can be a great business venture for folks involved in agriculture as it can allow farmers to earn supplemental income using knowledge and equipment they already have from their own operations.  Farmers engaged in custom harvesting for others, however, should consider creating a separate business entity that will not only limit liability for their custom harvesting operation, but will also ensure that their own farm assets are protected in… Read More →

September 12, 2014 Weekly Round Up

It’s been busy in the ag law world.  Here are a few of the stories and articles in the headlines over the last week. * Two Groundwater District Approaches, One Aquifer.  Neena Satija with the Texas Tribune wrote a great article discussing a controversy between Groundwater Conservation Districts managing the Corrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Central Texas.  The Post Oak Savannah GCD and the Lost Pines GCD both manage groundwater for counties overlaying the same aquifer.  Both, however, take different approaches to the permitting process.  These differing approaches have allowed water… Read More →

Idaho Judge Allows “Ag Gag” Lawsuit to Move Forward

Judge B. Lynn Winmill, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho has denied a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Idaho Interference with Agricultural Production statute, known as the “ag gag” statute.  [Read full opinion here]. Under the statute, passed in 2014, a person commits a crime if he or she knowingly enters an agricultural production facility by force, threat, misrepresentation, or trespass; obtains records of an agricultural operation by force, threat, misrepresentation, or trespass; obtains employment with an agricultural… Read More →