Hello there! The last couple of weeks have been crazy and I’ve been able to speak to a number of great groups across Texas. Last Monday, I was in Cat Spring speaking with my friend Stephanie Fryer on estate planning. Then Tuesday, I spoke in Fredericksburg at the Texas Extension Specialist Association meeting on using blogs, podcasts, and social media. Wednesday, I headed to Georgetown for a great meeting with landowners discussing grazing leases. This week, I virtually appeared in Montague County to talk agricultural lease agreements. Welcome to those of you joining from these events.
Here are some ag law stories in the news.
*President Trump announces $12 billion for aid to US farmers. The White House announced that up to $12 billion in emergency relief will be provided to farmers injured by tariffs imposed by the United States on various countries. Farm groups took varying positions on this news, with some praising it as positive and substantial, and others lamenting it as short-sided and an indication that the trade wars will likely continue. The New York Times reports that the package includes direct payments to soybean, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hog farmers based on their production this year. Other funding will go to government purchases of commodities that will be sent to food banks or other nutrition aid programs. [Read article here.]
*Report on status of lesser prairie chicken population released. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies reports that the number of lesser prairie chickens has increased for the sixth year in a row, up from 29,934 in 2107 to 38,637 this year. You may recall that the bird was listed on the federal Endangered Species List back in 2014, but that listing was overturned by a Texas judge the next year. [Read prior post here.] Various groups, including the Defenders of Wildlife, filed another petition with the US Game and Fish for the bird to be re-listed, but that remains pending at this time. [Read article here.]
*New article on dispute over groundwater dispute between NM and Texas. We’ve talked previously about a brewing dispute between Texas and New Mexico involving groundwater pumping along the states’ border. Because of different groundwater law schemes between the two states (New Mexico recognizes prior appropriation and Texas adheres to private ownership and the Rule of Capture), it is easier for oil and gas companies needing water for fracking in the area to purchase water from Texas landowners and pipe it back across to use in New Mexico. An oil boom in the area has increased the amount of water needed in the area, says NM Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, who alleges that Texas is “stealing” New Mexico’s water. [Read article here.]
* Contested hearing will be held in Hays County water pipeline application. You may recall an earlier discussion of a groundwater situation in Hays County. Electro Purificaion seeks to pump 900 million gallons of water from Hays County and pipe it for sale to Goforth Special Utility District. The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has voted to send the application to a hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings after 12 requests for such hearing and over 300 comments on the proposed permit were received by the district. [Read article here.]
* Updated dicamba damage estimates released. The University of Missouri has released its updated estimate of dicamba-related drift complaints and damage across the country. As of July 15, dicamba damage is estimated on approximately 1.1 million acres of soybeans across the South and Midwest. Total number of complaints to various State Departments of Agriculture for dicamba damage to soybeans and other specialty crops was 605. These numbers are less than those reported at this time in 2017, which were 2.5 million acres of soybeans and 1,411 dicamba-related investigations. [Read report here.]
Programs Next Week
Next week, I’ll be speaking at the Agricultural Economics Unit Retreat on using blogs, podcasts, and social media in an extension program on Monday morning. Then, Thursday will be our free Ranchers Leasing Webinar. Anyone interested in hunting or grazing leases should plan to listen in! No registration is required, just click on this link shortly before 12:00 noon CST.
To see a list of all of my upcoming presentations, click here.