Happy Friday! It has been a busy couple of weeks around here. Last week, I traveled to Brady for the Tri-County Land and Livestock Conference to discuss agricultural and oil and gas leases. This week, I was off to Archer City to discuss agricultural leases. Welcome to those of you who attended those programs.
* US Appeals WTO Ruling on Country of Origin Labeling for Meat. As you may recall from this post, the WTO recently found that the United States Country of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) regulations violate WTO rules. Now, the US is appealing that ruling. The appeal will likely not be heard at least until mid-2015. [Read article here.]
* New Mexico State Engineer Sends Water Pipeline Application Back for More Information. The New Mexico State Engineer has returned a permit application filed by San Augustin Plains Ranch LLC for more information. The application seeks permits to drill numerous groundwater wells in rural New Mexico, and to then pipe that water to cities that will purchase the water for citizen use. The State Engineer claims that the application was incomplete and needs more specific information on the purpose and specific users of the water. The State Engineer rejected a similar proposal filed in 2008. San Augustin Plains Ranch LLC has until Christmas Eve to provide additional information. [Read article here.]
* How Property Is Owned. My friend Paul Goeringer, a Legal Specialist at the University of Maryland, wrote a great blog this week discussing the different ways in which property is owned. The post discusses individual ownership, life estates, tenancy in common, joint tenancy, and tenancy by the entirety. It is important for people to understand the different forms of ownership and to know how each asset–including real property, personal property, and bank accounts–are held. [Read blog post here.]
* Horse Slaughter Battle Continues in New Mexico. Despite Congress essentially banning horse slaughter in the US by cutting off federal funding for required plant inspections, the battle continues in New Mexico. In 2013, an injunction was entered against Valley Meat Co., prohibiting them from seeking to operate a horse slaughter operation. Now, Attorney General Gary King claims that the injunction is being violated because D’Allende Meats of El Paso seek permits to slaughter horses. King claims that this is merely a shell corporation, owned by Valley Meats Co., created to get around the injunction. Attorneys for Valley Meat Co. allege malicious prosecution and claim that King has lied to the court. A hearing on the issue will likely be held in the upcoming weeks. [Read article here.]
* Death of a Family Farm Shows Importance of Solid Succession Plan. A couple of weeks ago, an article came out titled “Death of a Family Farm,” which describes the situation at a California dairy farm. After granting his son partnership in the dairy, the father and son had very different plans about what the dairy should do and how it should be managed. Should they expand the herd? Abandon the organic marketing scheme they had been using? Invest in newer technology and equipment? Today, the cows are being sold off and the father and son are not speaking to each other. This article is a heartbreaking example of the importance of having a solid, well planned, well communicated succession plan. [Read article here.]
* Estate Planning for Single People. Having just recently left the ranks of the single folks myself, I enjoyed reading this estate planning article aimed at the unmarried men and women in society. The article offers great advice, including creating a will and/or revocable living trust; ensuring your beneficiary designations are up to date on all retirement accounts, payable-on-death bank accounts, and life insurance policies; and evaluating your potential estate tax liability. I would add in drafting a power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and advanced healthcare directive to the list! [Read article here.]