April 15, 2016 Weekly Round Up

First, I want to apologize to those of you attending the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Convention for my absence last Friday.  We had a family medical emergency pop up on my way to Ft. Worth that required me to turn around and come home.  I’m happy to report that all is well now and hopefully my husband’s grandfather is on the mend.  Second, it’s been another busy week in the ag law realm. Here are some of the key stories in the news.

* Texas Water Development Board Deems Vista Ridge Project Not Eligible for SWIFT Funds.  This week, the Texas Water Development Board announced that the Vista Ridge pipeline from Burleson County to San Antonio would not be eligible to receive a $855 million low interest construction loan.  This comes on the heels of news that Abengoa, the company awarded the contract that has since filed for bankruptcy, would be selling rights to the project to another company.  [Read article here.]

* Federal Judge Dismisses Syngenta’s Counterclaims Against Grain Handlers. Those of you following the Syngenta corn litigation may be interested to know that the federal judge has dismissed  Syngenta’s counterclaim for negligence filed against a group of grain handlers including ADM and Cargill.  [Read opinion here.]  Syngenta based its claim on the idea that if Syngenta is eventually held liable in the case, it should be the grain handlers eventually responsible for failing to segregate the MIR-162 seed from other seed.  The court found Syngenta’s claim to be pre-empted by the federal US Grain Standards Act.  [Read article here.]

Texas A&M Agrilife photo by Robert Burns

* Farm Transition Will Happen, Ready or Not.  Delta Farm Press ran an article this week discussing how whether the older generation is ready or not, farm transition will happen at some point.  The article discusses four methods for transferring ownership of a business (gifting, selling, liquidating, merging) and highlights the importance of communication between family members and other people involved. [Read article here.]

* Washington Court of Appeals Rules Against Landowners in Exempt Well Case.  The Washington Court of Appeals issued a ruling n a much-watched exempt well case on Monday.  In this water rights case, the Foxes sought a permit to build on their property and to drill a domestic well as the water source for the building.  The permit was denied by Skagit County because of a state rule allowing permits to be denied if necessary to protect inflows needed for fish in the Skagit River.  Both the trial court and appellate court sided with the government, finding that the county was not required to issue a permit.  The Court of Appeals found that domestic wells–although exempt from state permitting requirements–were still subject to prior appropriation.  [Read article here.]

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