August 26, 2016 Weekly Round Up

Sorry for the lack of Round Up Posts recently–it seems I’ve been on the road and just hadn’t gotten a chance to get one put together.  I’ve had a bit of time in my office this week, so here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week.

Kay fence

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension photo by Kay Ledbetter

* Grimes County passes regulation to prevent high speed rail.  The County Commissioners Court in Grimes County recently passed a regulation prohibiting high speed rails from crossing county roads without proof of eminent domain authority being given to the County.  This regulation comes in light of the proposed Dallas-to-Houston high speed rail project that would cross through the rural county.  It is likely that this local regulation will be challenged by Texas Central, the company planning the project.  [Read article here.]

* Tribes settle water dispute between OK and TX.  The Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribes and the State of Oklahoma have settled a water dispute regarding water rights along the Oklahoma/Texas border.  Probably not surprisingly, the settlement includes a provision that requires approval from the Oklahoma Legislature before water may be diverted from Oklahoma to Texas users.  [Read article here.]

* Augustin Plains Ranch renews permit to pump water from rural NM to Albuquerque area.  The NM State Engineer’s Office will hold a public hearing on a permit request by Augustin Plains Ranch to pump more than 17 billion gallons of groundwater per year from rural Western New Mexico to cities in the Albuquerque area.  Two years ago the State Engineer denied a similar application by Augustin Plains Ranch, finding it to be too vague.  The Ranch has revised and resubmitted its proposal.  Critics, including fellow Western NM landowners and environmental groups, argue that even the revised proposal is too speculative and vague regarding who the actual water users will be.  [Read article here.]

* Another criminal defendant seeks protection from MO “Right to Farm” Amendment.  Yet again, a criminal defendant in Missouri who was arrested for growing marijuana in his home is seeking protection from the state’s new Right to Farm amendment.  The amendment, passed in 2014, added the following language to the MO Constitution:  “That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy.  To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.”  Broadly interpreting this language, defense attorneys have tried, and so far failed, to utilize this amendment as a defense against charges of illegally growing marijuana.  A St. Louis judge will have the chance to evaluate this claim soon.  [Read article here.]




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