Hello and Happy Friday! I want to welcome those of you joining us from our recent Owning Your Piece of Texas program in College Station and our Ranchers Leasing Workshop in Ft. Worth. Also, welcome to those of you from Goliad County where I beamed in for a program yesterday.
Here are some ag law stories in the news the past couple of weeks.
*2015 WOTUS Rule Repealed. You may have seen in the news that the EPA has issued the final rule repealing the 2015 WOTUS definition. This was the last act in completing step 1 of the “two step” approach to repeal and replace the 2015 Rule. What this means on a practical level is that the 2015 rule is not in place in the US, and in all states, the pre-2015 approach to the definition will be used. The Trump EPA has yet to release its final WOTUS definition, which will likely go into effect shortly after it is released, unless litigation against the new rule is filed and results in injunctions. [Read press release here.]
*Department of Labor announces final rule amending H-2A program. The rule is designed to ease some of the burden associated with obtaining seasonal agricultural workers through the H-2A visa program and will be effective on October 21. [Read press release here and final rule here.]
*RMA announces certain hemp producers will qualify for crop insurance in 2020; lots of details remain to be seen. Crop insurance will be available for hemp grown for fiber, flower, or seeds for the 2020 growing season with the following limitations. RMA has announced that for those growers authorized to grow under the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program. For growers relying on the 2018 Farm Bill, insurance will not be available until a USDA-approved plan is in place. One detail that is important is that having a crop that is over the legal THC limit will not be an insurable loss and there will be no replant payments available. Once the USDA plan is finalized, the RMA, FSA, NRCS, and other agencies will provide additional information about other available programs. [Read press release here.]
*Considerations for leaving inheritance to person with special needs. Jessica Merkel recently wrote a great blog post discussing issues related to leaving assets to a person with special needs. She explains the potential issues with regard to loss of benefits and how planning ahead can help avoid potential pitfalls. [Read blog post here.]
*Breaking a taboo: Talking about land shouldn’t be off limits. My friend, Jenni Latzke, recently interviewed me and wrote a great article for High Plains Journal about the importance of communication in agriculture. Whether that’s communicating with a potential heir, a landlord or tenant, or your neighbors, Jenni hits on several key conversations that farmers, ranchers, and landowners should be having. [Read article here.]
Next week will be a busy one! On Monday, I’ll be in Perryton speaking on estate planning at the Plains Land Bank Customer Appreciation Dinner. On Thursday, I’ll be with the Texas Tech Ag Law Society and my friend Amber Miller for a women in agricultural law panel. On Thursday evening, I’ll be speaking at another Plains Land Bank Customer Appreciation Dinner in Plainview.
To see all of my upcoming programs, just click here.