November 3, 2023 Weekly Round Up

Time continues to fly as we have reached the last 60 days of the year!  There has been no shortage of agricultural law news around the country the past couple of weeks.

Photo by Pixabay

*Texas Drone Law Upheld by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has reversed a lower court decision striking down the Texas Privacy Act, a law related to privacy and drone usage.  You may recall from this blog post, a federal district court sided with journalists who claimed the law violated their First Amendment rights.  Now, the Fifth Circuit has reversed, finding that the statute does not violate the constitution at least on the facial challenge brought in this case.  We will have a full post outlining this opinion coming soon.  [Read Opinion here.]  Do note that the deadline to file Motions for Reconsideration or to seek review from the United States Supreme Court has not yet passed.

*Texas Supreme Court declines to hear appeal in adverse possession case. The Texas Supreme Court has denied a Petition for Review in Parker v. Weber, a contentious adverse possession case that has been going on the better part of a decade.  You may recall from this blog post that the Waco Court of Appeals initially sided with the Parkers in a 2018 opinion.  Then, the appellate court granted a motion for rehearing and in 2023 issued a new opinion siding with Mr. Weber.  The Parkers sought review from the Texas Supreme Court, which was denied on September 29, 2023.  A Motion for Rearing was filed on October 16, 2023.  At least for now, and unless the Texas Supreme Court grants the Motion for Rehearing, the 2023 Waco Court of Appeals opinion will stand and Mr. Weber will obtain title to the disputed land.

*Kansas lesser prairie chicken lawsuit moved to Texas.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas has ruled that a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s inclusion of the lesser prairie chicken as protected under the Endangered Species Act should be transferred to Texas.  The federal government sought to move the case, filed by Kansas farmers, ranchers, and counties, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas where similar suits were filed by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, state cattle organizations, and the State of Texas.  [Read article here.]

*Arkansas filed first enforcement action under law banning foreign agricultural land ownership.  Earlier this year, Arkansas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 383 which prohibits certain foreign persons and entities from owning agricultural land in the state.  A separate state law also requires foreign owners to report landholdings to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. [Read more about the Arkansas laws here.]  In October, the Arkansas Attorney General ordered Syngenta, a Chinese state-owned company, to divest its ownership of 160 acres of agricultural land in the state.  Additionally, he has imposed a $280,000 civil penalty for failure to comply with the state’s reporting requirements.  [Read press release here.]  Syngenta has issued a statement that the 160 acres are used for “research, development, regulatory trials, and production to meet the needs of American farmers and to drive competition and innovation within the U.S. agricultural market.”  The company also states that “the suggestion that China is using Syngenta to purchase land or conduct operations in the U.S. for any purpose other than supporting the company’s commercial business in North America is simply false.”  [Read response here.]

*Interview on Capital Roots Podcast.  I was recently a guest on the Capital Farm Credit Capital Roots Podcast.  We chatted about how I ended up practicing agricultural law, my children’s Mini Hereford show careers, and farm and ranch estate planning.  Thanks so much to Joe and Clint for having me on!  [Listen here.]

*Sobering statistics on rural mental health from Georgia.  A recent Farm Progress article highlighted some sobering statistics regarding rural mental health in Georgia.  This included a survey of 1,651 respondents of which 96% said they experienced moderate to high levels of stress, and almost 1/3 of whom admitted to thinking of dying by suicide at least once a month.  [Read article here.]  Remember–if you or someone you love is struggling, there is hope and there is help.  You are not alone.  [Find our mental health interviews & resources here.]

Upcoming Presentations

On Monday, I’m headed to Dallas to participate in the Southern Ag Today leadership meetings.  If you aren’t subscribed to Southern Ag Today, do that here for great information about the economics, policy, and law regarding southern agriculture.

On Wednesday, I’ll be headed to Charlotte, North Carolina for the American Agricultural Law Conference.  Be sure you are following me on social media (Facebook / Twitter) for live updates from the event!  If you’re joining us in Charlotte, be sure to track me down and say hi!

For my complete list of upcoming programs through the end of the year, click here.

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