We have several new blog readers this week thanks to several presentations I’ve given recently. Two weeks ago, I was in Lubbock for the 10th Annual State Bar of Texas John Huffaker Agricultural Law Course. In my book, this is absolute must-attend for any agricultural law attorneys! Kudos to course directors David Waggoner and Trace Blair for all of their hard work. Last week, I traveled to Stillwater, Oklahoma and Ft. Worth, Texas for our Ranchers’ Leasing Workshops, funded by the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center. We had great turnouts and outstanding questions from participants in both sessions. Huge thanks to Shannon Ferrell and Fred Hall for all of their help. We will be hosting a webinar for those of you unable to attend in person and will be posting the leasing handbook we developed soon.
With all of that housekeeping out of the way, here are some of the agricultural law stories in the news.
* First Special Commissioner Award Comes in for Trans Pecos Pipeline Condemnation Actions. As we’ve discussed previously on this blog, the Trans Pecos Pipeline (TPP) will run from the Permian Basin in West Texas to Mexico, transporting natural gas. A number of landowners whose property sits along the route selected for the pipeline have refused to accept offers from the owner of the TPP, the pipeline company building the project. One such couple was David and Jeanne Simpson, who own 6,000 acres southwest of Marfa. The Simpsons were offered $18,000 for the easement across their property. This value was based upon an appraisal conducted by Kyle Schroeder, hired by TPP. The Simpson’s appraiser, however, valued the fair market value of the easement (including remainder damages) to be $684, 856. After hearing 5 hours of testimony, the three special commissioners entered an award of $685,856. [For more information on special commissioners and the condemnation process, click here.] Almost certainly, TPP will file an appeal to the trial court level. [Read article here.]
* Two Words that Rewrote American Water Law. Recently, Politico published a great article by Annie Snider titled “The two words that rewrote American water policy.” It’s a great look back at the Clean Water Act and Waters of the United States controversy, and how Justice Kennedy’s use of the magic words “significant nexus” really impacted water law and policy. [Read article here.]
* Vermont Farmer Faces Involuntary Manslaughter Charges for Bull on Roadway. A case out of Vermont has garnered a great deal of attention. When a bull got out and onto the highway, he was hit by a vehicle, leaving a 62 year old man dead. In addition to civil charges brought by the man’s family against the rancher (those were settled and details not disclosed), the State of Vermont has brought criminal charges against the bull’s owner. Specifically, the owner is charged with involuntary manslaughter, a crime for which a conviction to could result in up to 15 years in prison. Court documents indicate that police had been called to the area multiple times in the month prior to the crash for a bull out on the roadway. [Read article here.]
* Big Data Webinars Posted. Recently, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension helped sponsor two webinars discussing big data and agriculture. Hosted by the University of Maryland, the webinars featured outstanding presentations from Terry Griffin (Kansas State University), Ashley Ellixson (University of Maryland), and Shannon Ferrell (Oklahoma State University). If you missed the webinars and want to get caught up, here are links for Part I and Part II.