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 →

Ranchers Leasing Workshop Wins WAEA Outstanding Extension Program Award

Article written by Kay Ledbetter, published in Texas A&M AgriLife Today The Outstanding Extension Program Award for Project was presented to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Rancher’s Leasing Workshop Team at the Western Agricultural Economics Association, WAEA, virtual awards ceremony recently. The AgriLife Extension team consists of Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, agriculture law specialist, Amarillo; and Greg Kaase, Ph.D., agricultural economist and risk management specialist, and Emmy Kiphen, program specialist, both of College Station. WAEA includes over 600 members, primarily from the western U.S. and Canada, who are professional economists working in academic… Read More →

Ag Law in the Field Podcast: Episodes 71-80

If you haven’t listened to our award-winning Ag Law in the Field Podcast yet, what are you waiting for?  Every episode I interview an ag lawyer or other expert on an agricultural law topic.  These audio files are free to listen and hear my chats with some of the absolute best in the business of ag law. Don’t let the technology scare you–I promise it is really easy to listen to these episodes  You can listen on your smart phone’s podcast app or on iTunes, or you can… Read More →

My Recent Presentations/Interviews

Over the last couple of months, I’ve done a number of presentations and interviews on a number of different topics.  I hope that some of this content might be helpful for you and your operation. Key Laws for New Landowners (East Texas New Landowner Series) A group of Extension agents in East Texas led by Kaycee Davis hosted an educational series for new landowners.  I was part of the program, speaking on key laws for new landowners.  In this 50-minute presentation, I covered the need for liability insurance,… Read More →

July 24, 2020 Weekly Round Up

We’ve made it to another Friday!  Many of you saw my post on Twitter a couple of weeks ago about how dry we were back at my parents’ ranch.  I’m happy to report they’ve received 3″ of rain in the last week.  You’ll see water standing in the rows in the photo below.   It was a sight for sore eyes, for sure!   * US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholds registration for Enlist Duo herbicide.  In a much-anticipated decision, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion… Read More →

2020 Rural Land Value Trends Report

Each year, the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers publishes the Texas Rural Land Value Trends report.  This document provides helpful, interesting information for Texas landowners on both average property value and lease rates for agricultural land across the state.  They recently released their 2019 report.  [Click here to download.] The average price per acre in Texas increased by 6.4% from last year to $2,972/acre.  The publication divides the state into 7 regions, and then further divides each region into sub regions. … Read More →

Win for Texas Landowner in Pipeline Condemnation Appeal

Recently, the First District Court of Appeals in Houston sided with a landowner who challenged the eminent domain authority of a pipeline company seeking to condemn property.  The case is important for landowners and helps to further flesh out the facts that a pipeline company must be able to show in order to be a “common carrier” and illustrates some considerations in proving fair market value.  [Read full opinion here.] Background  The Hlavinkas own 15,000-16,000 acres of land in Brazoria County, which they purchased in 2002 for the… Read More →