January 24, 2014 Weekly Round Up

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

It has been a bit of a whirlwind week around here!  On Tuesday evening I was in Glen Rose speaking about water law at the 15th Annual Central Texas Beef Cattle Seminar.  Thursday found me in Vernon speaking at the Master Marketer program on agricultural leases.  Both programs had great turn outs, great questions from the participants, and great food (always a plus!)  Welcome to the new readers from those events.

Here are a few stories making news this week.

*Tax Law Changes Impacting Farmers and Ranchers.  This week, Southwest Farm Press ran an article co-authored by Wayne Hayenga of Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and J.C. Hobbs from Oklahoma State University that discusses 2013 tax legislation that may have an impact on farmers and ranchers.  [Read article here.]

* Mexico Set To Release Additional Water.  Last week, Mexico announced that it would release 25,000 acre-feet of water owed to the  United States under a 1944 Treaty.  Although this is a small amount of the current 282,000 acre-foot deficit, Texas lawmakers believe that political pressure has worked and are hopeful that Mexico will continue to release additional water.  [Read article here.]

*Another Lawsuit for Mora County.  Mora County, New Mexico, is facing a second lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of its county-wide ban on oil drilling.  As you recall, Mora County was sued in November 2013, by the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and three landowners challenging the ban.  Now, international oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC and its United States subsidiary, SWEPI LP, has filed suit as well.  SWEPI leased land in Mora County in 2010 and claims that the legislation violates Equal Protection, the Commerce Clause, constitutes a taking of property without just compensation, along with numerous other claims.  [Read article here.]

*Jensen Brothers Seek Probation.  The Colorado cantaloupe farmers who owned the operation that caused a listeria outbreak killing 24 people have requested probation in their federal criminal case.  The brothers pled guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the outbreak.  Counsel representing the 24 victims said that he believes that probation is adequate.  Their sentence will be handed down during a hearing on January 28, 2014.  [Read article here.]

*Hawaii Proposes to Limit Local Restrictions on Farming.  Hawaii, too, is proposing an amendment to the state’s Right-to-Farm Act.  The proposed amendment would ensure that local governments would be unable to pass ordinances that would restrict farming and ranching.  [Read article here.]


*Proposed Changes May Limit Michigan Right-to-Farm Application.  A proposal in Michigan seeks to limit the protections of the state’s Right-to-Farm act by excluding anyone with fewer than 50 animals and are located in an area zoned residential.  Public comment is currently being solicited from those interested in this issue.  [Read article here.]

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