WOTUS: Where Are We Now?

For years now, agriculture has been closely following the drama surrounding the definition of “Waters of the United States,” commonly referred to as WOTUS.  With a new administration in place, changes have recently occurred in Washington, DC on this issue. Background The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, gave federal jurisdiction to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (COE) over “waters of the United States.”  Essentially, a person who wishes to do certain activities in a water of the United States—such as point source… Read More →

USDA Releases Agricultural Land Value Report

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service released its annual report on agricultural land values across the United States.  To view the full report, click here.  This report is generated based on survey results mailed in from landowners across the United States. Definitions A few key definitions are important to keep in mind.  First, a “farm” is any establishment where at least $1,000 in agricultural products were or normally would be sold during the year.  So, clearly, this is an extremely broad definition.  Second, “farm real estate value” is the… Read More →

2017 State Cash Lease Results Published

The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service recently published the results for their nationwide cash lease survey.  The results are broken down by state and are drawn from producer/landowner survey responses collected earlier this year.  Importantly, while these statistics can offer a ballpark idea, keep in mind that lease rates are dependent on a number of facts like fence quality, pasture quality, livestock markets, etc.  Visiting with folks on the ground like other landowners, producers, and your County Extension Agent is always a great place to get accurate information… Read More →

August 4, 2017 Weekly Round Up

And just like that, it’s August!  Where has the summer gone? Here are some of the ag law stories making news this week. * Water war brewing in West Texas.  A rural West Texas landowner wants to drill wells, build a pipeline, and sell water to oil and gas companies some 60 miles away in the Permian Basin.  This is the situation in Van Horn, where a large landowner has sought a permit from the Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District to drill 7 wells on his 140,000 acre… Read More →

Eminent Domain in Texas – Podcast & Program

Eminent domain is a topic of interest to many Texas landowners.  With projects going on across the state from oil and gas pipelines to highways to water transportation lines, to the high speed rail, many landowners are facing the potential taking of their private property.  Austin-based attorney, Luke Ellis, and I have recently been addressing this issue in a couple of different arenas. First, this week we recorded an episode of the Ag Law in the Field Podcast focused on eminent domain.  You can listen via computer or you… Read More →

College Prep: Draft Power of Attorneys and HIPAA Release Forms

When a parent prepares to ship a kid off to college, they often think about tuition, the safety of the dorm, and making sure oil is changed in the kid’s vehicle before they leave.  A critical item that is often left off the college to do list is having three key legal documents in place:  power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and a HIPAA disclosure authorization. Once children reach 18 years of age, their parents are no longer able to automatically make medical or financial decisions on… Read More →

July 28, 2017 Weekly Round Up

It’s the last Friday in July!  I hope everyone is staying cool during this summer heat.  Last week, I did a presentation via distance technology to the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association meeting in Kerrville.  Welcome to those of you joining who attended the livestock guardian dog session! Here are a few ag law stories in the news.  As you will see, two of these items are frequent fliers on the Weekly Round Up! *USCIS issues new form I-9, mandatory September 18.  The US Customs and Immigration… Read More →

FREE Ag Leasing Workshops Scheduled Around Texas

Kay Ledbetter with TAMU Agrilife Communications recently wrote an article highlighting our upcoming Ranchers Leasing Workshop series.  We are excited about the chance to expand the reach of these workshops and really hope to see you there!  Feel free to contact me with any questions at all or to RSVP. Agricultural leases to be covered by AgriLife Extension in four workshops “After such a positive response last year, four new Rancher Leasing Workshops covering grazing, hunting and livestock leases are scheduled across the state by the Texas A&M… Read More →

Overview of Amendments to Use of Unmanned Aircraft Statute

The 85th Legislative Session brought an amendment to the law related to use of unmanned aircraft in Texas.  Importantly for agriculture, the amendment adds confined animal feeding operations (“CAFOs”) to the list of “critical infrastructure” facilities to which additional flight limitations apply for many drone operators.  The amendment will go into effect on September 1, 2017. This post will review, in detail, the current Use of Unmanned Aircraft statute and discuss the most recent amendment.  For those of you not concerned with the specific details, the “Take Away… Read More →

Business Entity Selection Series: 4 – Limited Partnership

Today we continue on in our Business Entity Selection Series.  If you missed any prior posts, click here. What is a limited partnership?  Texas law defines a limited partnership as a partnership having one or more general partners and one or more limited partners.  See Texas Business Organizations Code Section 1.002(50).  General partners may participate in the control of the business but are not given any limited liability.  On the other hand, a limited partner is afforded limited liability, but may not participate in the control of the… Read More →