April 3, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Here is a list of some of the recent agricultural law stories in the news.

*Montana Court upholds constitutionality of beef checkoff.  The biggest story of the last couple of weeks was a trial court ruling in the beef checkoff litigation.  The United States District Court for the District of Montana found in favor of USDA and the Montana Beef Council, holding that the advertising and promotional speech of the Montana Beef Council (and similar organizations in 14 other states) constituted government speech given USDA oversight.  Thus, the speech did not violate the First Amendment rights of challenger, R-CALF.  I will have a full blog post on this ruling coming on Monday. [Read Opinion here.]

*FAQs on COVID-19 and the H-2A program. My friends Nate Huff and Brandon Davis from Phelps Dunbar recently put out a really useful FAQ publication on how COVID-19 is impacting the H-2A program in the United States.  This is a great, practical article by two of the best in the business.  [Read article here.]

*Force majeure clauses take center stage as COVID-19 hit the United States.   Have  you ever noticed a force majeure clause in a contract you’ve signed?  These clauses can very much be in the “fine print” that it’s easy to overlook.  They essentially provide that if certain unexpected, unlikely events occur, the parties are excused from performing under the contract.  As you might imagine, a global pandemic certainly could fall within the purview of a force majeure clause…but it will depend on the specific language of each clause to determine whether COVID-19 constitutes force majeure.  [Read blog posts by attorney Stephanie Fryer and attorney Brianna Schroeder on this topic.]

*Americans rushing to execute wills in the midst of COVID-19.  Americans are rushing to execute online wills in the midst of COVID-19.  Data shows that online wills are up 143% for certain companies.  As this article advises, it is critical that an online will comport with the legal requirements in the person’s state to be valid.  I always recommend working with an attorney when drafting a will to ensure it is legally valid and it accomplishes your goals.  [Read article here.]  Additionally, Forbes published a great article with 8 tips for estate planning in a COVID-19 world.  [Read article here.]

*Ranchers Leasing Workshop now available as online course!  In case you missed our big announcement earlier this week, we are thrilled to have our award-winning Ranchers Leasing Workshop now available as an online course.  To date, over 1,200 Texans have attended this course in person and 100% of them would recommend it to a friend.  If you are involved in or considering a grazing, hunting, or livestock lease–whether you’re a landowner or a lessee–this course is for you!  For more information or to register, click here.

Upcoming Programs

Not surprisingly, my list of upcoming programs is unusually quiet currently.  I am working on some potential webinars, so if you have topics of interest, please feel free to send them my way.  Meanwhile, remember that the Ranchers Leasing Workshop online course mentioned above can be done anytime. Additionally, I’ve got recordings of some past presentations you can always listen to on my Published Materials page.

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