We’ve hit the halfway point for July and I hope everyone is staying cool in this heat! It’s been a busy week for me. On Monday, I gave an online presentation on agricultural leases to the 2016 Generation Next participants. Thursday found me in Sherman, again talking ag leases. On Friday, I wrapped things up in Greenville talking key laws for Texas landowner to beware of. Welcome to those of you joining from these events!
Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week.
* More Litigation in Trans-Pecos Pipeline Saga. A federal court lawsuit has been filed by a landowner in Presidio County challenging the ability of the Trans-Pecos pipeline to use eminent domain authority to condemn land for the natural gas pipeline that will run from the Permian Basin to Mexico. [Read article here and Complaint here.] The landowner sought a preliminary injunction preventing Trans-Pecos from taking possession of his ranch property upon the entry of the special commissioner ruling on compensation until the court could rule on his constitutional challenge. [Read Motion here.] Court documents indicate that the preliminary injunction was denied due to the ongoing state court condemnation proceedings. [Read Order here.] The landowner has appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
* Special Master Reportedly Recommends Denial of NM Motion to Dismiss in TX v. NM Water Case. Several news outlets have reported that the Special Master, appointed by the United States Supreme Court, has issued a recommendation that the Court deny New Mexico’s Motion to Dismiss in the Texas v. NM lawsuit pending before the high court. I have been unable to get my hands on a copy of the recommendation yet, but will share as soon as I can. You may recall from prior blog posts here and here that Texas sued New Mexico alleging they are violating a 1944 Compact addressing how water is to be allocated along the Rio Grande River. If the Motion to Dismiss is denied by the Court, the case will proceed. [Read article here.]
* Bill Introduced in House To Exempt Dairy and Livestock Farms from Reach of RCRA. No doubt originating after the trial court decision in Community Association for Restoration of the Environment v. Cow Palace, LLC, a bill (HR 5685) has been introduced in the US House that would expressly exempt livestock and dairy farms from the reach of the federal Resource Conservation Recovery Act. You may recall from this prior post, a trial court in Washington recently held that manure spread on fields and held in unlined lagoons constituted solid waste and was governed by this federal statute. [Read article here.]
*Farmers Need to Prepare for New EPA Worker Protection Standards. Delta Farm Press ran an article last week outlining changes coming to the EPA’s Worker Protection Standards, which regulate hiring workers to handle and apply pesticides. The new rules go into effect in January 2017 and 2018. The rules will require more frequent training and eliminate the grace period formerly given upon hiring a new worker. [Read article here.]
* 5 Keys to Farm Succession Planning. I recently came across an article discussing five keys to farm succession planning. Passing the farm from one generation to the next is by no means an easy process, but these five tips can help at least get the conversation started. [Read article here.]
* Tips for Future Care of Disabled Family Members. Thinking about how to plan for future care of disabled family members can be extremely overwhelming. The New York Times published an article with some pointers. Key points here are considering trust instruments, appointments of guardians, and having adequate insurance. [Read article here.]