March 8, 2019 Weekly Round Up

Hello and happy Friday!  We’re back with another weekly round up of the top agricultural law stories of the past two weeks.

* North Carolina nuisance ruling appealed. Plaintiffs in the first North Carolina hog farm nuisance lawsuit have filed an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  A number of agricultural groups, including the American and North Carolina Farm Bureau have filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs arguing that the North Carolina Right to Farm law should have applied as a defense to these cases, and that allowing such large punitive damage awards under these facts was improper.  [Read article here and read amicus brief here.]  Meanwhile, the fifth nuisance trial wrapped up closing arguments this week and remains with the jury at this time.

* Review insurance coverage before spraying.  Southwest Farm Press published an article this week that offers some great advice for anyone planning to apply (or hire someone to apply) pesticides this year.  Taking a moment to review one’s insurance coverage can be very important, both to ensure that coverage for pesticide application exists and that the coverage amount is adequate.  Additionally, anyone who is damaged by drift should be aware of any requirements to report such drift to crop insurance agents–not because drift is covered by crop insurance–but because a farmer may be able to exclude damaged from his or her production history if proper steps are taken.  [Read article here.]

*News story on Texas fence laws.  The CBS DFW television station recently did a story on Texas fence laws that did a good job explaining the confusion surrounding fence laws across the state.  As the story points out, there are some counties in which even the sheriff or judge may not know whether the area is open or closed range.  [View story here.]  For more information on Texas fence laws, you can download a copy of our Five Strands: A Landowner’s Guide to Fence Law in Texas here.

*Iowa farm pleads guilty to criminal Clean Water Act violation for application of manure to farm field.  Iowa farmers recently plead guilty to violating the federal Clean Water Act, resulting in $50,000 in fines and several years of probation.  The farmer and an employee both faced charges after the employee knowingly applied liquid manure from the CAFO operation via hose onto nearby farmland and the manure then ran off into a tributary to Big Creek.  Because the court found manure to be pollutant, and this to be a point source discharge into a water of the United States, a permit would have been required.  Since the farmers had no such permit, they violated the Clean Water Act. [Read article here.]

* “Never Judge a Farm by Their Smile” article highlights important issue in rural America.  If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that mental health and suicide in rural America are issues that are really important to me.  I recently read a blog post titled “Never judge a farm by their smile” that really hit on the issues facing so many people involved in production agriculture and living in rural America.  It’s important to have these conversations, to be watching out for your neighbors, and to know that asking for help is absolutely the strong thing to do.  [Read blog post here.]

Upcoming Programs

At the end of the month, I’ll be in Ft. Worth for the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Conference.  I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there!  Click here for more information.

Also, we’re excited about our upcoming Ranchers Leasing Workshops, which will be held in six locations across the state this year.  For more information or to register, click here.

As always, to see all of my upcoming programs, click here.

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