December 4, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Happy December!

Photo by Any Lane from Pexels

Here are a few of the biggest ag law stories in the news over the past couple of weeks.

*Dairy farmers receiving letters seeking repayment of funds from Dean Foods.  Many dairy farmers who sold milk to Dean Foods prior to its bankruptcy filing  have been receiving letters recently from ASK, LLC.  Essentially, these letters note that the recipient received some payment from Dean Foods within the 90-days prior to its bankruptcy filing.  After visiting with an ag bankruptcy attorney who has reviewed the letters, he notes that there may be a number of potential defenses that dairy farmers may raise in response to these letters that would excuse them from making any repayments.  One such defense that could apply in this situation is the “ordinary course” defense–meaning if payments were made in the ordinary course of business, they are not required to be repaid. The best advice I can offer to farmers receiving these letters is to contact an attorney to help you review and determine what applicable defenses may exist.  I would strongly advise farmers not to issue payment until obtaining review and advice from an attorney because of the potential for defenses that may be available.  [Read article here.]

*USDA expands hemp insurance options.  The USDA Risk Management Agency has announced it will be expanding crop insurance options available for certain hemp producers across the country.  The Multi-Peri Crop Insurance Plan for hemp will be expanded to add select counties in AZ, AR, NV, and TX.  Additionally, for states that already had some counties in the programs, additional counties will be included in 2021 for CO, KY, NM, MI, MT, TN, and VA.  They will also allow broker contracts for hemp and make changes to certain date requirements. To see the additional changes, read news release here and article here.

*Lawsuit filed challenging recent changes to H-2A program.  The United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation have filed suit against the USDA challenging the recent changes made to the H-2A program in the US. [Read press release and final rule here.] They claim the rule changes violate the Administrative Procedures Act in several different ways.  [Read Complaint here.]

*SCOTUS agrees to hear interesting takings case involving union organizers right to access agricultural property.  Recently, the US Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, a case involving a California regulation allowing union organizers access to ag employees on their employers’ property to discuss union organizing with the workers.  The legal question is whether this regulation constitutes a physical taking under the Fifth Amendment.  The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found this regulation did not constitute a physical taking.  [Read article here.]

‘*Article discusses how debt is treated after death.  I came across a great article related to how debts are treated at death on the Wills, Trust and Estates Prof blog.  It discusses how different debts are treated as part of an estate and raises some really key issues from an estate planning perspective.  [Read article here.]


Upcoming Presentations 

On December 15, I’ll join Emily Grant for On the Line with AgriLife where we will talk about the biggest developments in Texas ag law for 2020.  This is a short, 20 minute session with about 10 minutes of me talking and 10 minutes of Q&A from the audience.  Feel free to click here to join on December 15 at 8:30 am.  For more info, click here.

Another opportunity to join me virtually will be on the Capital Farm Credit Facebook page for their lunch and learn.  On December 9 at noon, I will be taking over their page to offer a live overview of the biggest ag law news of the year.  Q&A will be welcome and we will see if the 3rd time’s a charm for me and I finally won’t have any technical issues at the beginning of the program!

I’ll also be presenting at a couple of closed events.  First, I’ll be speaking at three Judges and Commissioners Conferences virtually over the next couple of weeks talking about Texas fence law.  Second, I’ll be part of the Texas Land Title Institute course as well with a session offering an update on agricultural law.

Lastly, keep our Online Ranchers Leasing Workshop course in mind.  This three-hour, on demand course is full of information on grazing, hunting, and livestock leases, as well as a section on landowner liability.  So far, reviews from the online participants have been excellent and we are excited to see so many folks enrolling each month.  For more information, click here.

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