March 12, 2021 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday!  We’re back with some more of the ag law stories in the news over the past couple of weeks.

Photo by Yoonbae Cho on Unsplash

* Bill would modify Texas Farm Animal Liability Act to ensure applicability to working ranches.  You may remember last year that the Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling in Waak v. Zuniga holding that the Texas Farm Animal Liability Act does not apply if the injured party is a rancher or ranch hand. [Read prior post here.]  There are a couple of bills in the Texas Legislature seeking to change that and ensure applicability of this limited liability statute to working ranches across the state. HB 365, introduced by Representative Andrew Murr is currently pending in the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee.  The bill would make several changes to the existing statute to ensure that it applies to working ranches.  For example, it would add “feeding, vaccinating, exercising, weaning, transporting, producing, herding, corralling, branding, dehorning, health management activities” and “routine or customary activities on a farm to handle and manage farm animals” to the definition of “engages in farm animal activity.”  Additionally, “farm owner” and “lessee” are added expressly to the list of persons protected by the statute.  Finally, addressing an issue that has frequently arisen in litigation, the bill would include an employee and an independent contractor in the definition of “participant,” meaning that the defense would be available if injured party was an employee or independent contractor.  [Read bill text here.]

* Congressional Republicans introduce bill to repeal the federal estate tax.  In Washington, DC, Congressional Republicans have introduced bills in the House and Senate aimed at repealing the federal estate tax.  [Read article here.]  To learn more about the federal estate tax, listen to a podcast I did with Kitt Tovar here, and stay tuned for an upcoming tax series I’ll be writing for the Texas Ag Law Blog.

* Iowa State Center for Ag Law & Taxation publishes article on key tax considerations for farmers.  Our friends at the Iowa State CALT have published a great blog post, Key Tax Considerations for Farmers in Early 2021.  I’m not a tax lawyer or a CPA, so this is not my area, but Kristine and her group at CALT provide really great information for ag producers. [Read article here.]

*US Court of Appeals lifts stay on Navigable Water Protection Rule in Colorado.  The Tenth Circuit has lifted a stay on the application of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), the Trump administration definition of “waters of the United States” in Colorado.  Because of this stay issued by the trial court, Colorado was the only state in the US where the NWPR did not apply.  The Tenth Circuit found that the preliminary injunction was not warranted because Colorado would not suffer irreparable injury if the rule went into effect.  [Read opinion here]. For more information on the NWPR, read prior blog post here and listen to podcast episode here.

* List of items to consider before meeting with an estate planning attorney.  Professor Gerry Beyer at Texas Tech University did a great blog post highlighting a list of 10 items to gather before meeting with your estate planning attorney.  This is a great way to prepare to meet with an attorney, and having this information together will help save time (and therefore, likely money) during the meeting with the attorney.  [Read article here.]

* It’s Just What Farmers Do.  I recently wrote an article for the DTN Progressive Farmer Our Rural Roots column sharing a funny story about my son that got me thinking…  [Read article here.]

Upcoming Presentations

I’ve got a couple of presentations coming up in the next two weeks.  On March 23, I will be in Perryton for a Farm Lease Program along with Dr. Justin Benavidez, an ag economist.  For more information on that, contact Scott Strawn, the County Extension Agent in Perryton.

On March 24, I’ll be presenting a poster discussing our Ranchers Leasing Workshop programs as part of the national Extension Risk Management Education Conference.

To see all of my upcoming presentations, click here.

Don’t forget that we have our Online Ranchers Agriculture Leasing Workshop available anytime, on demand.  For more info, click here.

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