It has been a warm, humid week here in Aggieland! Here are a few ag law stories making the news recently.
* Plaintiffs’ Attorney Explains Case Against Prius Audit Firm. An attorney representing 46 plaintiffs who were injured or killed from a 2011 listeria outbreak traced to a cantaloupe farm in Colorado wrote a very interesting blog about the suits his clients have filed against the audit firm who gave the farm a superior rating in the days just before the tainted fruit was shipped. The attorney discusses the facts, legal theory, and arguments made against third party liability for an auditor in this type of situation. [Read post here.]
* Oil and Gas Industry Works to Protect Sage Grouse. Federal officials have announced that the sage grouse–a chicken-like bird found in 11 states (California, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming)–is being considered for listing as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. In light of this, states and oil and gas industry leaders are working together to develop voluntary conservation plans in order to avoid the listing. [Read article here.]
* Ag-Gag Laws Facing Federal Court Challenges. As a follow up to the blog post earlier this week reviewing “ag gag laws,”, the Houston Chronicle ran an article discussing the arguments both for and against these laws, and describing the status of the pending lawsuits challenging the laws in Idaho and Utah. [Read article here.]
* Three Steps to a Successful Estate Plan. Although this article is focused on passing down a home rather than a farm, the three steps outlined are applicable to farm and ranch operations as well. The article provides that in preparing an estate plan to pass real estate to another, a person should (1) keep communication open (both between family members and professional advisors); (2) assess your tax situation (determine if you may have an estate tax issue); and (3) plan a maintenance fund to help the next generation with future repairs and maintenance. [Read article here.]
* Drier than the Dust Bowl. The Washington Post ran a great article this week looking at the impact the drought has had across the rural West. The article outlines many of the problems facing rural agriculture, including the weather, lack of irrigation water, the battle between rural and urban populations for water use, and the impact this type of prolonged drought can have on landowners’ retirement plans. [Read article here.]