Navigable Waters Protection Rule (aka the New WOTUS Rule)

Disclaimer–This blog post is really detailed.  If you’re not into all the nerdy legal technicalities, I’d read the Background, Summary of WOTUS Rule v. NWPR, and What Happens Now and go on about your day.   If you have been around for a while, you know we have been following the saga surrounding the definition of “Waters of the United States” or “WOTUS” for several years.  On April 21, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency published the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), the newest regulatory definition of WOTUS.  [Read… Read More →

September 25, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday!  Here are a few of the ag law stories in the news. * Sign up for CFAP 2 program begins.  The USDA has announced a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2, which will provide payments to qualifying farmers and ranchers.  The application period is open now through December 11.  Many of the main commodities in our area, including cattle, sheep, sorghum, wheat, cotton, and corn are eligible.  For more information and a full list of eligible commodities, click here.  Our District 1 economist, Dr. Justin Benavidez, recently… Read More →

Transferring Property Prior to Death: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

I frequently field questions where a landowner is trying to decide whether it would be better to transfer his or her property to the next generation (or their identified heir) while the landowner is still living, or wait until the landowner has passed away.  I always try to outline the pros, cons, and highlight two other options here in Texas that may allow a landowner to receive the pros and avoid the cons of a transfer prior to death. Pros of Transferring Property Prior to Death There are… Read More →

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Resources

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  This is an issue that is close to my heart and a topic on which rural America absolutely has to do better. Suicide rates are higher in rural America than in urban America, and that gap steadily increased between 1999 and 2015. In that time frame, the rate of suicide between Americans age 25-64 rose by 41%, with rates being 25% higher for those living in rural America. Those involved in agriculture have one of the highest suicide rates in the… Read More →

September 11, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday!  We’ve had quite the cold snap come through the Texas Panhandle this week–when I was feeding on Wednesday morning, it was a brisk 36 degrees!  Here’s wishing everyone a big of a warmer weekend. Here are some of the ag law stories over the past couple of weeks. *Court dismisses western cattle groups lawsuits against NWPR Rule.  An Oregon federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Washington Cattlemen’s Association and New Mexico Cattle Growers Association challenging the Navigable Waters Protection Rule,… Read More →

2020 USDA NASS Cash Rental Rate Survey Results Published

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service recently published their 2020 Cash Rental Rate Survey results.  This report provides average cash rental rates by state and by county for irrigated cropland, non-irrigated cropland, and pastureland. Keep in mind these numbers are merely averages based on survey responses provided to USDA.  The lease rate for a particular property will depend on a number of factors such as the quality and quantity of grass, health of the soil, the existence of and quality of fences, access to water, brush situation, average… Read More →

MT Supreme Court: Dinosaur Fossils Are Not Minerals

In an update to a story I included in the Weekly Round Up last Friday, the Montana Supreme Court has ruled on the question of whether dinosaur fossils are minerals under state law.  [Read Opinion here.] Background The case involves farm and ranch land in Montana.  The land was initially owned by the Seversons and for approximately 15 years, it was run as a partnership between the Seversons and the Murrays, who worked there as ranchers. In 2005, the Seversons severed the surface estate from the mineral estate. … Read More →

August 28, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Welcome to another agricultural law weekly round up.  Here are some of the recent ag law stories in the news. *USDA issues Final Rule modifying eligibility rules to qualify for farm program payments.  The USDA Farm Service Agency issued a Final Rule making changes to eligibility requirements for farm program payments.  One expected change per the 2018 Farm Bill allows first cousins, nieces, and nephews to qualify under the definition of “family member.”  A more unexpected change dealt with modifications of definitions of “active personal management” and “significant… Read More →

Undisclosed Surface Lease Offers Important Reminders to Property Purchasers

The Eastland Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in a case involving the purchase of land, a surface lease not disclosed by the seller but noted in the title commitment, and claims of fraud.  [Read opinion here.] Background Parmelly owned 700 acres of land in Taylor County, Texas.  The land was naturally divided by a steep bluff into an “upper” and “lower” part.  The lower part of the property was about 225 acres. In 1999, Parmelly signed a surface lease with Vulcan Construction Materials that covered most… Read More →

August 14, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday!  It has been a busy few weeks for me. I want to welcome those of you joining from the Beef Cattle Short Course presentation last week.  Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week. *CFAP program expanded, deadline extended.  The USDA announced this week that there have been additional commodities added to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.  Most notably, all sheep will now qualify for payment, while previously it was only lambs under 2 years of age.  For sheep producers, the payments… Read More →