March 20, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Well…a lot has happened since our last Weekly Round Up.  Currently, all of my programs scheduled through March 31 have been postponed, including our Ranchers Leasing Workshop in Abilene.  We have also postponed our Ranchers Leasing Workshop scheduled in La Vernia.  I will ensure that my “Upcoming Presentations” page remains up to date, so to check on the status of any program, click here.  We are working on some potential online programs, including launching our online Ranchers Leasing Workshop course soon.

Here are some of the ag law stories recently in the news.

*TDA now accepting hemp license applications; regulations finalized.  The Texas Department of Agriculture is now accepting licenses for hemp production. [Click here for more info.]  Additionally, the final Texas hemp regulations have been adopted and are now posted on the TDA website.  [Click here for final regulations.]  We plan to have a revised video and a blog post that provides an overview of the final regulations soon.

*Federal Judge refuses to grant Temporary Restraining Order against Kinder Morgan pipeline.  A federal court judge has rejected plaintiffs’ attempts to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting Kinder Morgan from beginning construction on its Permian Highway Pipeline, which will travel through the Hill Country.  The court found that the plaintiffs failed to show irreparable harm, an element required before a TRO may be issued.  Specifically, the plaintiffs’ argument that the pipeline will harm the habitat of the golden-cheeked warbler, a protected species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, failed to show likelihood of irreparable harm to the species as a whole.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service found the pipeline would impact less than 1% of the warbler’s habitat in the area and offered a number of steps Kinder Morgan can take to minimize the impact.  Thus, the TRO was rejected.  According to KUT, construction on the portion of the pipeline through the Hill Country could begin in a matter of weeks.  [Read article here and Opinion here.]

*Syngenta settlement payments begin. The court has authorized the claims administrator to begin making interim payments to corn producers qualifying under the Synegenta corn litigation settlement.  Initial payments  are set to begin around March 20.  Importantly, to be eligible for payments, producers and crop share landlords must have submitted all required paper work (including the required W-9 form to qualify to receive the interim payment).  For more information, click here.  According to a press release from class counsel, the majority of total payments will exceed $5,000 per farmer

TAMU AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter

*Article highlights potential farm data concerns for farmers leasing land.  A recent NPR article highlights an important issue for farmers, especially those leasing land, to be aware of.  Who has access to your farm data and how might that be used against you?  The article discusses farmer suspicion that companies may be using that data in a way that could result in the tenant losing his or her leased ground.  It is a concerning issue to be sure. [Read article here.]

*Considerations for renting or passing on grazing lease.  Dr. Woody Lane wrote a great article for Progressive Cattleman discussing several critical considerations for producers when determine whether to sign the dotted line on a grazing lease.  These are all topics we discuss at our Ranchers Leasing Workshop, and are helpful for prospective tenants to keep in mind. [Read article here.]

Thank you all for your support of the Texas Agriculture Law Blog. We hope you stay safe and healthy during this time.

Ranchers Leasing Workshop is now available on demand to be taken anytime at your own pace. To register click here.

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