We’ve reached the end of another week. Happy Friday! Welcome to those of you that are new readers and subscribers to the Texas Agriculture Law Blog.
A quick reminder about our upcoming Ranchers Leasing Workshop events in Nacogdoches, Burnet, and Perryton. These are great programs for anyone involved in an agricultural lease–grazing, haying, farming, hunting, livestock–as either a tenant or a landowner. Registration is easy and can be done by clicking here or by calling Valerie at (979)845-2604. For more information and to see our complete list of 2019 events, click here.
Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week.
*Solar farm divides Texas community. The Houston Chronicle published an article earlier this month about a proposed solar farm in Van Zandt County that is dividing up the community. The project is a planned 1,100 acre solar farm with up to 450,000 solar panels. The project has pitted landowners in favor of the farm and the potential income they can receive for leasing their land, versus landowners opposed to the farm who wonder what impacts it might have on their ranching operations. This article does a great job of laying out concerns on both sides. [Read article here.]
*North Dakota passes law regarding cell cultured meat. North Dakota has passed a law related to the definition of “meat” and what products may carry that label. The law defines “meat” as “the edible flesh of an animal born and harvested for the purpose of human consumption.” A “meat food product” is “a product usable as human food which contains any part of a carcass from an animal born and harvested for the purpose of human consumption,” but does not include a product containing a relatively small portion of carcass or that historically has not been considered by consumers as a product of the meat food industry and which is not represented as a meat food product. The law provides that a person may not advertise, offer for sale, sell, or misrepresent “cell cultured protein” as a meat food product. Further, cell cultured protein may not be packaged in the same or deceptively similar packaging as a meat food product and must be labeled as a “cell cultured protein food product.” [Read bill here.] Currently, at the federal level, the USDA and the FDA have agreed to share regulatory oversight of cell cultured meat, with the FDA managing cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth, while the USDA will oversee product labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. I’d expect legal challenges from the cultured cell industry over these type of state-level labeling laws, which are being considered by other state legislatures as well. [Read article here.]
*Iowa passes new “ag gag” law after prior version declared unconstitutional. You may recall from this prior blog post that Iowa’s “ag gag” law was declared unconstitutional by a federal court earlier this year. Iowa has appealed that decision. Meanwhile, the Iowa Legislature stepped in and passed a new law, titled “Agricultural production facility trespass.”
This law provides that a person commits agricultural production facility trespass if the person (1) uses deception on a matter that would reasonably result in denial of access to an ag production facility that is not open to the public, and, through such deception, gains access to the facility with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the facility’s operation, agricultural animals, crop, owner, personnel, equipment, building premises, business interest or customer; or (2) uses deception on a matter that would reasonably result in a denial of an opportunity to be employed by an ag operation that is not open to the public, and , through that deception is so employed with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the facility’s operation, agricultural animals, crop, owner, personnel, equipment, building premises, business interest or customer. A person found guilty of agricultural production facility trespass is guilty of a misdemeanor for the first offense and an aggravated misdemeanor for subsequent offenses. A person who conspires with another to commit agricultural production facility trespass is guilty of a serious misdemeanor for the first offense and an aggravated misdemeanor for all subsequent offenses. [Read new law here.] This law is more narrowly written than the prior version, but legal challenge is almost certain to come.
*Oil and gas vocabulary lesson. John D. McFarland recently published a great post on his blog offering definitions for several oil and gas-related terms including mineral interest, royalty interest, working interest, and overriding royalty interest. John does a great job of explain the differences in each of these terms. [Read post here.]
*”The future of family farms hinges on their ability to successfully transition to the next generation.” What a true statement from attorney Amy Ebeling. In this article, Amy talks about the importance of farm succession planning and offers tips farm families involving decisions like who will inherit the farm, whether buy/sell agreements are needed, how much life insurance coverage may be important, and training up the next generation now. [Read article here.]
Next week, I’ll be headed to Cowtown to speak at the TSCRA Convention! I’m excited to be speaking about landowner liability on Friday morning, to be part of the Ask an Ag Lawyer panel on Friday afternoon, and to be speaking on grazing leases on Saturday at 11. For more info on this great educational event, click here. The following week, I’ll be in Snyder on April 3 and speaking via the internet with the Ranch Management University class in College Station on Thursday. To see my complete list of upcoming speaking events, click here.