Hello and Happy Easter weekend to you! This week I made my way to Lubbock to speak at the Ogallala Aquifer Project meeting to discuss Texas groundwater law. Then, despite major technological issues, I was able to speak at Upton County Ag Day. Welcome to those of you who have joined us from those meetings!
Here are a couple of the ag law stories in the news this week.
* A number of ag provisions included in Omnibus Spending Bill. Be sure you caught my blog post on Monday outlining the provisions impacting agriculture, including a change to the 199A deduction, a provision exempting farms from air emissions reporting from manure, and a delay of electronic logging device enforcement for livestock haulers through September 30, 2018. [Read post here.]
* Lawsuit challenging constitutionality of Iowa “Ag Gag” statute allowed to proceed. A federal district judge in the Southern District of Iowa recently allowed a First Amendment challenge to the state’s “Ag Gag” law to go forward. The law, passed in 2012, makes “agricultural production facility fraud” a crime. A person is guilty of this charge if he or she willfully obtains access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses or makes a false statement as part of an application or employment agreement with the intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner of the agricultural production facility. The lawsuit, filed in October 2017 by several animal rights groups, claims that the statute violates the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The court dismissed a Fourteenth Amendment challenge upon finding that the State’s rationale for the law–the need to prevent trespasses at ag facilities and preventing employment fraud–was sufficient to survive rational basis review. The First Amendment claim, however, was allowed to proceed. [Read Order here.]
*New York Times article focuses on farmer suicides. In a heartbreaking article, the New York Times took a look at the high number of suicides by farmers. Focusing specifically on the dairy industry, the article discusses the combination of farming being a stressful occupation, with low prices and pressure to preserve the family legacy as issues contributing to this. [Read article here.]
*Free solar leasing webinar. My friend Shannon Ferrell is going to be offering a free webinar on solar leasing sponsored by the National Ag Law Center next week. Shannon always knocks presentations out of the park and I’m sure this will be no exception. Here’s a link for more information.
Programs Next Week
It’s going to be a busy week to kick off April. On Thursday, I’ll be speaking on estate planning in Leon Springs at 11 am. [More info here.] That evening I’ll be in Kerrville to speak at an Extension program on leasing and estate planning. [More info here.] Then on Friday, I’m speaking at the Texas Bankers Association Ag Conference about agricultural law hot topics. To see all of my upcoming programs, click here.