Ag Law in the Field Podcast – Episodes 51-60

If you haven’t listened to our award-winning Ag Law in the Field Podcast yet, you are missing out!  Every episode I interview an ag lawyer or other expert on an agricultural law topic.  These audio files are free to listen and hear my chats with some of the absolute best in the business. Don’t let the technology scare you–I promise it’s not hard to listen in.  You can listen on your smart phone’s podcast app or on iTunes, or you can listen on your computer.  Below, if you… Read More →

2019 USDA Land Values Summary

The USDA recently released their 2019 Land Values Summary, which reports average agricultural land values across the United States.  To view the report, click here.   The report looks at the value of agricultural land across the country in several different categories.  Information comes from USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service survey responses. The broadest measure of land value in the report is the “farm real estate value.”  This measures the current market value of “all land and buildings used for agricultural production, including dwellings.”  For 2019, the average… Read More →

September 6, 2019 Weekly Round Up

You may have noticed I’ve been a little bit MIA here and on social media.  I spent three weeks in August in and out of the hospital with a medical issue, but I’m feeling much better and am back in the saddle.  I’ve got an overwhelming number of emails and voicemails from my absence, but am working on getting back to folks as soon as possible. I want to be sure and welcome those of you joining the blog from Beef Cattle Short Course, the Owning Your Piece… Read More →

Is Owner Liable for Injury Caused by Lamby the Guard Sheep?

Is the owner of a “guard sheep” named Lamby liable for injuries to a person allegedly headbutted by the sheep?  Let’s take a look at Gonzalez v. Ahrens, a recent case from the Houston (14th) Court of Appeals. Background Mr. Ahrens owns a farm near Yoakum, TX and has a number of species of livestock.  He kept one sheep that he raised as a bottle lamb, named Lamby as his pet and “guard sheep” due to prior break ins. Lamby slept in the house and was friendly, but… Read More →

Case Illustrates Important Rule When Protesting Property Taxes

In March of this year, the First Court of Appeals in Houston issued an opinion in Grimes County Appraisal District v. Harvey, which is a good illustration of an important legal requirement for persons protesting actions of an appraisal district related to property taxes. Background James Harvey owns 91 acres in Grimes County.  For the 2015 tax year, the property received agricultural use valuation and the tax bill was $138.13, which Mr. Harvey paid.  In early 2016, the Grimes County Appraisal District (GCAD) sought a re-application from Mr…. Read More →

Court Determines Meaning of “Oil and Gas” in Century-Old Pipeline Easement

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston recently issued an opinion in Texan Land and Cattle II v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Co., a case involving a dispute over the meaning of the words “oil and gas” included in a 1919 pipeline easement agreement.  This case is a good reminder for landowners about the importance of drafting detailed easement agreements and the long-lasting effects these easements can have on property. Background Texan Land and Cattle (TLC) own a piece of land in Harris County.  In 1919, the prior owner of the… Read More →

New Statutory Requirements for Wind Leases in TX Effective September 1

As of September 1, 2019, Texas law will impose requirements for wind lease agreements to contain language whereby the wind farm operator agrees to remove its materials at the end of the lease, and provides a financial assurance to support this obligation.  These terms are required in every wind lease signed after the effective date and may not be waived by the parties. Key Stats House Bill 2845 modified the Texas Utilities Code by adding Section 301.0001, titled “Wind Power Facility Agreements.” [Read bill text here.]  The bill… Read More →

August 2, 2019 Weekly Round Up

Welcome to August!  I’m not sure how the summer has flown by, but here we are.  These are a few of the ag law stories in the news this week. *Second round of Market Facilitation Program payment rates announced.  Last week, the USDA announced payments for round 2 of the Market Facilitation Program.  These payments are designed to provide assistance to farmers of commodities impacted by “unjustified foreign retaliatory tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional export markets.”  Payment rates have been set per county for qualifying crops. … Read More →

Ag Land Sale and Grazing Lease Gone Wrong

The facts underlying the Austin Court of Appeals decision in Marek v. Lehrer are an agricultural real estate deal gone terribly wrong.  This case is a great example of why it is so important to have every agreement  put into writing and timely signed by the parties. Factual Background R.L. Lehrer, a cattle rancher in San Saba County decided to sell 257 acres of his property and to lease the property back to continue grazing his cattle.  He planned to use the proceeds from the property sale and from… Read More →

Ferrell Publishes “Understanding Solar Energy Agreements”

Many landowners in Texas and around the country are being approached by solar energy developers seeking to lease land to build solar projects. Recently, my friend and counterpart at Oklahoma State University, Shannon Ferrell, published a great guide looking at the law related to solar lease agreements through the National Agricultural Law Center.  Shannon is without question the national expert on renewable energy leases, so anyone considering a solar lease agreement should review Shannon’s guide. To download a copy, click here. Additionally,  if you want to listen to… Read More →