As usual, there have been a number of ag law stories in the news the past couple of weeks. Here’s this week’s round up.
*USDA delays enforcement of two major portions of hemp Interim Final Rule. This week, the USDA announced that it will temporarily delay enforcement of two provisions of the Interim Final Rule on hemp production until October 31, 2021 or the publication of the Final Rule, whichever is earlier. First, the DEA will delay enforcing the requirement that THC testing must be conducted at DEA registered laboratories. Instead, testing may be conducted by labs that are not yet DEA registered. Second, USDA will delay enforcement of the requirement that producers use a DEA-registered reverse distrubutor or law enforcement to dispose of non-compliant plants. Instead, the producer may dispose of his or her crop using one of the methods listed by the USDA, which include plowing under, disking, and burning, among other options. The USDA says it is delaying the enforcement of these rules due to comment received in response to the Interim Final Rule and from discussions with states as they develop their plans. “We have learned that these provisions will serve as a significant hindrance to the growth of a domestic hemp market at this nascent stage.” [Read guidance here.] Texas has yet to publish its final hemp production regulations, but according to the Texas Department of Agriculture website, they should be forthcoming soon. It will be important for Texas producers to determine whether the TDA final regulations take the same delayed enforcement approach as the USDA.
*Verdict awards $265 million to peach farmers in dicamba trial. You may remember from this prior blog post and this prior podcast that there are a number of lawsuits pending around the country involving dicamba drift. The first of these lawsuits, brought by a peach farm in Missouri, was completed earlier this month when the jury awarded $265 million in damages to the farmers. The award breaks down into $15 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. The plaintiffs in the case claimed that because Monsanto released the Xtend soybeans prior to releasing the corresponding Xtendimax herbicide, they should have foreseen a use that is dangerous to the public. The defendants in the case, Bayer (which makes Xtendimax) and BASF (which markets Engenia), who claim the damages to the trees were caused by a fungal disease, rather than drift damage, have announced they intend to appeal. [Read article here.] For a more detailed look at the Bader Farms case, click here to read a blog post from the National Agricultural Law Center.
*Indiana Supreme Court will not hear Right to Farm challenge. In 2019, the Indiana Court of Appeals sided with a hog farm and upheld the constitutionality of the Indiana Right to Farm Act. [Read prior blog post here.] Recently, the Indian Supreme Court refused to take the case on appeal. This leaves the unanimous Court of Appeals decision in favor of the Right to Farm Act in tact. [Read article here.]
*Five common estate planning mistakes. I came across an interesting article looking at five common estate planning mistakes. In particular, the first three are issues I see all the time: (1) not having a plan at all; (2) missing or incorrect beneficiaries; and (3) incorrect joint title. These are issues that are easy to overlook and can cause real problems for family members left behind. [Read article here.]
I’ll be kicking the week off on Monday speaking in Throckmorton with my friend Stephanie Fryer on estate planning. For more info, contact JerriAnn at the Throckmorton County Extension Office.
On Wednesday, we will be hosting our Owning Your Piece of Texas program in Amarillo. It focuses on the key laws Texas landowners need to know. We are so excited to bring this program to the Panhandle and to have my friend and American Ag Law Association President, Amber Miller, joining me to present. To register, click here.
Keep in mind, we will be hosting Owning Your Piece of Texas programs later this year in Montgomery (March 16), Seguin (June 4), and Burnet (September 15). For more info, click here. We also have several Ranchers Leasing Workshops coming up in Abilene (March 31), LaVernia (April 24), Brenham (August 18 or 19), and Fredericksburg (September 14). For more info on those programs, click here.