August 21, 2015 Weekly Round Up

Here are some of the ag law related stories in the news this week.

* Study Looks at Water Used for Fracking in Eagle Ford Shale.  The Texas Water Journal recently published an interesting article titled “Groundwater use in the Eagle Ford Shale” some policy recommendations.”  The article outlines water use in the Eagle Ford Shale area, focusing specifically on water used for fracking, and offers three policy recommendations the authors believe should be considered, including mandatory reporting for all water uses, providing incentives to lure oil and gas operators away from the use of fresh groundwater, and the potential development of a groundwater banking system.  [Read article here.]

* Attorney’s Response to Articles Claiming John Deer Owns Your Tractor.  An article published earlier this year titled “We can’t let John Deere destroy the very idea of ownership” caused lots of controversy in the agricultural industry.  The article essentially claimed that John Deere took the position that farmers do not own the tractors they purchase.  Indiana-based ag law attorney, Todd Janzen, has written two blog posts explaining that John Deere does not, in fact, claim ownership of farmers’ tractors, merely the software rights, and explains on a practical level what the difference means.   I’ve got to admit that this topic is a bit over my head, so I am glad that Todd put out such good information that I can share!  [Read Todd’s blog posts here and here.]

*PETA Branches Out with New Animal Rights Claim:  Verbal Abuse.  An Australian sheep farmer found himself in court after PETA filed suit alleging he abused his animals after an activist filmed an undercover video on the farm.  Although no physical abuse was seen, the video allegedly showed verbal abuse–specifically cursing–in front of the animals.  The case was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence, but it offers another illustration of the lengths these groups will go to in order to attack farmers and ranchers. [Read article here.]

*Hearing Set in Endangered Species Act Prairie Dog Case.  You may remember “the prairie dog case” where a Utah federal court limited the reach of the Endangered Species Act last year.  Specifically, the judge held that because the prairie dogs at issue were found only in Utah and there was no connection or impact to interstate commerce, the ESA did not apply.  [Prior blog post here.]  Not surprisingly, the Fish and Wildlife Service appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  The court recently announced it will hear oral argument on this case September 28.  [Read article here.]

*  Top 10 Myths of Succession Planning.  Farm Journal recently posted an article listing the top ten myths related to succession planning.  Many of these are issues I frequently hear folks bring up when discussing succession and estate planning, so I think this article is quite useful and highly recommend giving it a glance.  [Read article here.]

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