March 16, 2018 Weekly Round Up

It’s been a busy week for me and for agricultural law!  On Wednesday I spoke in Albany, Texas at a program hosted by the Leon Bosque RC&D and on Thursday evening I was in Brownwood to speak at the Brown County Ag Day.  Welcome to those of you joining from those events.

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

* FMCSA Extends Agricultural Exemption to New Hauling Regulations Another 90 Days.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it will extend the current waiver of the new hauling rules related to hours of service another 90 days, extending the waiver period through June 18, 2018.  This means that the new regulations related to hours of service and electronic logging devices will not apply to people hauling agricultural commodities, supplies, livestock, or horses.  The waiver does not apply to the rules regarding Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs) for agricultural haulers.  [Read announcement here.]

* Proposed $1.51 Billion Settlement Announced in Syngenta Litigation.  Plaintiffs in the litigation pitting corn farmers against Synegnta involving genetically modified seeds containing the trait MIR-162 have filed a motion for preliminary approval of a settlement agreement.  [Read Motion here.]  Because the cases filed were class actions, any settlement must be preliminarily approved by a court, then notice and an opportunity to object or opt out is given to all class members, then a fairness hearing is heard, and a judge must decide whether to grant final approval.  The proposed settlement would include all farmers, grain elevators, and ethanol facilities who have offered corn for sale between 9/15/2013 and the date of preliminary settlement approval (which has not yet occurred.)  I will have a full blog post discussing this settlement in the coming weeks.

* Report that Congress has “found a fix” for the co-op issue in tax reform bill.  Lawmakers say they have “found a fix” for an issue in the recent tax reform act that gave an “unintended advantage” to cooperatives.  Under the tax law as passed, Section 199A allows farmers to deduct 20% of gross sales to cooperatives, but only 20% of net income if they sell to another purchaser.  Legislators intend to include the amendment in the omnibus spending bill.

* Planning checklist for parents of children with special needs.  I came across a blog post last week written by an Idaho attorney offering a checklist with regard to long-term planning for parents of children with special needs.  This is such an important issue for all parents, but especially for those parenting kiddos with special needs.  [Read checklist here.]

*Reading, understanding dairy contracts is imperative.  Indiana-based attorney Todd Janzen was recently interviewed for an article focusing in milk supply contracts in the dairy industry.  Todd did a great job of outlining major issues that should be considered before entering a milk supply contract.  [Read article here.]  Todd also did a webinar on dairy supply contracts, and you can listen in on that recording here.

Programs Next Week

Next week I will be in Ft. Worth for the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention.  It is always a great program and my husband and I are looking forward to making the trip and attending the Convention!  I’ll be speaking twice on Friday.  First, from 9:30am to 12 noon, Jim Bradbury, James Decker, Kyle Weldon, and I will be hosting the Ask an Ag Lawyer session.  Second, I’ll be presenting on grazing and agricultural leases at 3:30pm.  Look forward to seeing you all there!  For more information, click here.  As always, you can see a list of all my upcoming programs by clicking here.

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