September 8, 2023 Weekly Round Up

We’re back again with another rundown of some of the key ag law issues in the news this week.

Photo by Todd Aarnes on Unsplash

*There is a new I-9 form that must be used starting November 1, 2023.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services released a new I-9 form on August 1.  For now, employers may use either the new form or the current form, but as of November 1, all employers must use the new form. You can find the new form here.  A summary of the changes may be found here.

*Federal court addresses case involving post production costs  under Texas law.  The US District Court for the Western District of Texas recently issued an opinion in Hawkins v. Capitan Energy, a case involving post-production costs for oil and gas production in West Texas. The court distinguished this case from the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in Devon v. Sheppard and sided with the oil and gas company.  John McFarland wrote a great summary here.

*Federal court dismisses North Carolina hog farm trespass and nuisance claims.  The US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina recently granted Murphy-Brown and Smithfield Foods’ summary judgment motion, thereby dismissing the case, in a lawsuit involving 18 neighbors against Murphy-Brown and Smithfield.  The neighbors filed claims of trespass and negligence against the defendants related to the on-farm handling of waste.  The court held that the plaintiffs failed to offer evidence of a substance from the defendants’ farms actually entering the plaintiff’s property, or, if any material did enter the property, what it was or that it came from the defendants’ trucks or field spraying.  Plaintiffs offered no expert testimony to prove their allegations on this issue.  Thus, both the negligence and trespass claims were dismissed.  Do note that this case could still be appealed.  [Read Opinion here.]

*Federal court refuses to enjoin Florida foreign ag land ownership law pending lawsuit.  Earlier this year, a group of Chinese citizens and a brokerage firm with primarily Chinese and Chinese-American clients filed suit in federal court alleging that Florida’s foreign ag land ownership law is unconstitutional. As part of that lawsuit, the plaintiffs sought an injunction to prevent the law from going into effect on July 1 as slated.  The federal judge recently denied the motion for an injunction, meaning that the Florida law will remain in effect pending the litigation.  Importantly, the denial applied only to the injunction.  The parties will still proceed to litigate the constitutional challenge.  Micah Brown and the National Agricultural Law Center wrote a great summary of this decision here.

*The importance of farm safety. Farm Progress recently shared a moving story of an Illinois farm couple who are farm safety advocates after a devastating electrical injury on the farm.  It is a great reminder about the importance of slowing down and taking care, especially during the busiest parts of the year.  This article actually inspired me to do a podcast episode in honor of National Farm Safety and Health Month, which is coming up the third week of September. Stay tuned for that!  [Read article here.]

*Properly protecting an Etsy Store.  My friend, Cari Rincker, recently published a really interesting blog post offering some ideas for people with Etsy stores to ensure they are protected.  These same tips apply to almost all online businesses and offer important reminders for all of us regarding our digital estate plan.  [Read article here.]  I would also add that anyone operating a business venture–whether that’s an Etsy store or something else–should at least consult with an attorney and an accountant to determine whether setting up a limited liability entity (like an LLC) may be beneficial as well.

Upcoming Presentations

We’re hitting the road again next week.  I’ll be in Decatur for our direct beef sales program on Tuesday and our Ranchers Leasing Workshop on Wednesday.  We’ve got room for a few additional attendees at each, so feel free to reach out if you are interested and we can get you on the list.

The following week, I’m speaking at a Green Energy Symposium hosted by NRCS in Amarillo on September 20.  Lots of landowners in the Panhandle are receiving communications from solar, wind, and carbon companies with an interest in their land.  This program will be full of information on each of these topics.  To register, contact Megan at 940-372-2474. On Friday, September 22, I’ll be presenting remotely at the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management Brush Management Lectureship.  The KRIRM courses are always fantastic, and I appreciate being included in their speaker line up.  For more information on this lectureship, click here.

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