We’ve made it to another Friday! I spent this week in the office getting caught up on emails, phone calls, and writing. There will be some really interesting blog posts coming over the next couple of months, so be sure you’ve signed up to receive them via email!
Here are some ag law stories in the news this week.
* Environmental groups petition US Fish and Wildlife Service to list dunes sagebrush lizard under Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife have filed a petition with the USFWS to have the dunes sagebrush lizard–a reptile found in West Texas and New Mexico–protected under the Endangered Species Act. The lizard is found within the Permian Basin, where extensive oil and gas development occurs and has caused a habitat loss. A proposed listing was issued back in 2010, but the Texas Comptroller stepped in and worked with landowners and the oil and gas industry to develop a protection plan. Proponents of listing the species argue that the plan was ineffective. [Read article here.]
*North Carolina Legislature passes Right to Farm Amendment. On the heels of the $50 million nuisance verdict against a Murphy-Brown hog farm in the state, the North Carolina Legislature has passed an amendment to the state’s Right to Farm Act. The bill has been presented to the Governor, who has until June 25 to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law if no action is taken. The amendment will strengthen the state’s Right to Farm law, which was found not to apply in the Murphy-Brown cases by the trial court judge. The new law would not allow a nuisance action to be filed unless all of the following factors applied: (1) plaintiff is a legal possessor of the real property affected by the conditions alleged to be a nuisance; (2) the real property allegedly affected is within 1/2 mile of the source of the alleged nuisance activity; (3) the action is filed within one year of the establishment of the agricultural or forestry operation or within one year of the operation undergoing a fundamental change. A fundamental change would not include a change in ownership or size, an interruption of farming for less than 3 years, participation in government programs, employment of new technology, or a change in the type of ag or forestry product produced. [Read article here.]
*House passes Farm Bill. The US House has passed its version of the Farm Bill on Thursday afternoon, with a vote of 213-211. [Read article here.]
* Overview of Senate Ag Committee’s Farm Bill draft. The folks over at Farm Doc Daily published an overview of the Senate Ag Committee’s draft Farm Bill. It walks through the various titles and provides some highlights included in the current language. A full Senate vote is expected next week. [Read article here.]
*Ag groups file amicus brief in WOTUS case. Several agricultural groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers, National Cotton Growers, NMBA, and the US Poultry and Egg Association have filed an amicus brief in the ongoing WOTUS litigation in North Dakota. The groups, along with numerous other industry groups, argue that the 2015 WOTUS rule was defective and illegal for numerous reasons. [Read article here and brief here.]
* Tips for estate planning if beneficiaries have special needs. Wealth Management published an article last month offering thirteen tips for estate planning for beneficiaries with special needs. For those of you with special needs kiddos or family members, this is a great article and corresponding slide show to help you ensure that your loved one will be provided for and taken care of upon your death. [Read article here.]