Happy December! We are back with a number of updates for you with regard to agricultural law news around the country.
*Lesser prairie chicken listed under Endangered Species Act. On November 17, the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a press release that it will be listing the lesser prairie chicken as threatened in the northern distinct population segment (including areas in southeastern Colorado, southcentral and western Kansas, western Oklahoma, and the northeastern Texas Panhandle.) and endangered in the southern distinct population segment (including areas in eastern New Mexico and the southwest Texas Panhandle). The Service is working on a Section 4(d) rule to allow greater flexibility for landowners and land managers in the northern distinct population segment, including those who previously entered into conservation plans with regard to the lesser prairie chicken. The final rule will be effective on January 25. [Read Press Release here.]
* Bills being filed for 2023 Texas Legislature. There have currently been over 1,100 bills filed for the upcoming Texas Legislative Session. I periodically check the list of filed bills to see what has been filed that may relate to agriculture. If you want to do the same, you can find a list of all filed bills here. Just click on the links for “Filed House Bills” or “Filed Senate Bills” and then you can do a search for terms like agriculture, farm, ranch, etc.
*Agriculture groups concerned about proposed SEC rule. Several agricultural groups have expressed concern about a proposed SEC Rule that would require companies to report their carbon footprint, along with providing this information about other entities upstream and downstream in their supply chain. [Read more about the proposed rule here.] Thus, while most farmers are not required to do SEC filings, there is concern that if this rule is passed, farmers may have to provide this information to other companies along the supply chain who do make these SEC filings. Opponents of the rule, including many agricultural companies and farm groups argue that burden of this requirement would be passed down to small farmers and could increase food costs. [Read article here.]
* Handbook focuses on livestock risk management. My colleagues, Dr. Bart Fischer, Dr. Justin Benavidez, and Dr. Amy Hagerman recently published a handbook titled, “Where’s the Risk? A Livestock Risk Management Handbook,” focused on various options for livestock producers when seeking to manage risk in their operations. [Download copy here.]
* Trial court denies Smithfield Foods Motion to Dismiss in lawsuit over gestation crate marketing claims. A court has denied Smithfield’s Motion to Dismiss in The Humane Society of the United States v. Smithfield Foods, filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The case centers around a Smithfield Sustainability Report from 2020 discussing its group housing for pregnant sows and open housing systems for animals. The HSUS claims these statements are false based on Smithfield’s admitted “use of individual crates during portions of the breeding process.” The case will now proceed to discovery. [Read Order here.] This is an example of the types of ESG lawsuits that Nate Huff and I recently discussed on my Ag Law in the Field Podcast. Listen to that episode here.
*Year-end tax management checklist. Adam Kantrovich at Clemson University recently published a year-end tax management checklist that I found very useful. He lists several reports and numbers that should be collected before meeting with a tax professional and also offered some tax management strategies to chat about with your tax professional as well. [Read article here.]
I am closing out my 2022 speaking schedule next week with a trip to College Station to speak on Tuesday, December 6 at the Texas Plant Protection Association Conference on carbon contracts and offering an ag law year in review at the Inaugural Washington County Ag Breakfast in Brenham on Wednesday, December 7.
As always, I have a number of online courses available anytime, on demand. You can see those here.
Finally, if you want to check out my 2023 speaking schedule, click here.