There have been a number of developments in key agricultural law issues around the country over the past couple of weeks. From the Farm Bill to Right to Farm, WOTUS to water law, we’ll get you up to speed!
*Texas voters pass Constitutional right to farm, other Constitutional amendments. On November 7, Texas voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1, which means that Texans now have a right to farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management in the State Constitution. [Read more about Prop 1 language here and read article here.] For those curious, Texas had 14 propositions on the ballot, and thirteen passed. Also of potential interest to landowners, Proposition 4 will increase the homestead tax exemption from $40,000 to $100,000 and Proposition 6 will create a water fund administered by the Texas Water Development Board to fund water products in the state. The lone failing proposition was Proposition 13, which would have raised the mandatory retirement age for judges from 75 to 79. [Read article here.]
*Groups file amended complaints in WOTUS litigation. Plaintiffs have filed amended complaints in lawsuits pending in Texas and North Dakota challenging the Biden Administration’s WOTUS definition. The lawsuits were initially filed to challenge the rule published in January, but were then stayed after the United States Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA. Subsequently, the EPA issued a revised definition to comply with the Sackett ruling. The amended complaints challenge that revised definition on a number of grounds including failure to include a comment period and that the rule is overly broad and ambiguous. [Read article here.]
*One year extension for Farm Bill passed by Congress, signed by President. On Wednesday, Congress agreed on a bill that will fund the government through January 19 and also includes a one-year extension of the Farm Bill. President Biden signed the bill the next day. This will continue the Farm Bill programs through September 30 while Congress works on drafting the new bill. [Read article here.]
*Petition for review filed with Texas Supreme Court in produced water case. You may recall from this prior blog post that the El Paso Court of Appeals recently held that it was the mineral lessee, rather than the surface owner, who owned water extracted during oil and gas production known as produced water. The surface owner has filed a Petition for Review with the Texas Supreme Court. [Read Petition here.]
*Federal court ruling puts chlorpyrifos back in farmers’ toolbox. Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion in Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Ass’n v. Regan, reinstating the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops. You may recall that back in 2021, the EPS revoked all tolerances for chlorpyrifos in food crops, essentially prohibiting the use of the insecticide on any food crops. The Eighth Circuit held this revocation was improper, and, thereby, reinstated the food tolerances, which will allow the use of chlorpyrifos again. Specifically, the court held that in revoking the tolerances rather than modifying them, the court failed to act within the “full scope of its discretion.” [Read article here and Opinion here.]
*Making safety part of the farm culture. The Noble Research Institute put out an article on farm safety several years ago, but I just found it and thought it was a great, practical reminder about the importance of making safety part of the daily discussion on the farm. [Read article here.]