March 6, 2015 Weekly Round Up

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*  Farm Bill Deadlines Extended Until March 31.  Last week the USDA announced the extension of farm bill deadlines, making all decisions due by March 31.  [Read article here.]  Producers will be allowed to make three decisions in connection with the Farm Bill:  whether to reallocate base acres, whether to update yields, and then elect between two payment programs–ARC or PLC.  To read more about these decisions, click here. * Article Discusses Underground Trespass Issue.  You likely recall from this post that the Texas Supreme Court recently avoided… Read More →

Free Ag Law Resources: Ag Law Blogs

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I’m going to start a new multi-part series that will last throughout the year highlighting free, useful agricultural law resources on a variety of different topics.  We will kick things off with my favorite agricultural law blogs. There are several great ag law blogs that offer excellent information about various ag law issues.  Because several new ag law blogs  have started in the last year or so, I thought it might be useful to provide a list of my favorites.  As you will see, these blogs are from attorneys… Read More →

Cotton Contract Clause Dispute Offers Important Reminders

turbines and cotton

Once again, a Texas court has issued an opinion regarding whether an arbitration provision in a cotton sales contract is enforceable.  The Amarillo Court of Appeals issued its opinion last week in Ecom USA, Inc v. Clark, which offers some lessons and reminders to parties entering contractual agreements and attorneys litigating these cases.  [Read opinion here.] Background This case was filed by a number of cotton farmers who contracted to deliver cotton they grew in 2010 and 2011 to the U.S. Cotton Growers Association, a marketing pool owned by… Read More →

February 27, 2015 Weekly Round Up

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Happy Friday!  Last week I was in Washington, DC speaking at the USDA Outlook Forum.  It was a great conference and I enjoyed the opportunity to participate!  A special thank you to Shayle Shagam and David Anderson for inviting me to speak. Here are a few ag law stories in the news this week. *  Denton Fracking Cases With Both Be Heard in Denton County.  After Denton voters passed a ban on fracking within city limits last November, two lawsuits were filed challenging the ban.  The Texas Oil and Gas Association… Read More →

FAA Publishes Proposed Drone Regulations

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Much anticipated proposed federal drone regulations were published by the Federal Aviation Administration last week. Current Status of Federal Drone Rules in the United States Currently, the ability to use a drone legally in the US depends on the type of use to which the drone is being put. The use of drones for commercial purposes is banned in the United States.  Absent express permission from the FAA, drones may not be flown for commercial purposes under current rules.  The first time this permission was granted to an… Read More →

Question from Tiffany’s Desk: Forum Selection Clauses

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Question:  Recently I got a question asking whether Texas law recognizes contractual provisions requiring claims to be brought in a certain place.  For example, is a contractual term that provides, “any dispute arising under this contract shall be heard in the courts of the state of Colorado” valid? Answer:  These clauses, known as “forum selection clauses” are generally enforceable in Texas so long as certain conditions are met. The purpose of enforcing these clauses is to protect the legitimate expectations of the contracting parties and to further the interests… Read More →

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: How Do I Select an Attorney?

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People frequently ask my advice on how to select an agricultural law attorney.  Having been in private practice for four years, I understand the importance of finding the right attorney for your legal issue. Importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all plan to selecting the right attorney for you, and, as you might expect, the right attorney for one farmer’s issue may not be the right attorney for the farmer down the road.  Here are a few important points to consider when you are selecting an attorney. 1.  Can you have… Read More →

February 13, 2015 Weekly Round Up

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We’ve made it to the end of another week!  Here are some ag law stories making news. * Texas Supreme Court Could Hear Groundwater Case.  You may recall from this prior blog the Coyote Lake Ranch v. City of Lubbock lawsuit.  The Ranch owns the surface, but all groundwater rights were severed and sold to Lubbock by prior owners in the 1960’s.  As part of the contract for the water rights, Lubbock obtained the right to enter the land and drill water wells.  The Ranch is concerned that by… Read More →

NM Federal Judge Strikes Down Mora County Oil and Gas Ban

Cows not Fracking

Recently, federal Judge James Browning, sitting on the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, invalidated a law passed by Mora County Commissioners that prohibited oil and gas production in the county.  The ban, the first of its kind in the nation, raised questions regarding the constitutionality of prohibiting the development of mineral estates.  Judge Browning’s opinion in SWEPI, LP v. Mora County, New Mexico marks the first federal decision related to local drilling bans, which are being seen across the country. Background Mora County, located… Read More →

Anti-Climactic Ending to Underground Trespass Case

In a much-watched case involving underground trespass, the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling issued last Friday amounts to a punt.  Environmental Processing Systems v. FPL Farming raised the question of whether disposal well fluids disposed of thousands of feet below ground, which then migrate across property lines constitutes trespass. As you will remember from this prior blog, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral argument on this case one year ago. Background In this case, a Liberty County rice farmer sued his neighbor, a disposal well company, claiming that subsurface trespass… Read More →