Happy Friday!  It’s sure been a week around here.  I hope we all get some rest this weekend. Here are some of the ag law stories in the news the past couple of weeks.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing & Communications

*Important property tax deadlines coming up for rural Texas landowners.  Many property tax deadlines are coming up, requiring that paperwork be submitted by rural landowners to County Appraisal Districts before May 1.  This includes the deadline to submit an open space valuation application and a wildlife management valuation application.  Keep in mind, anyone who has purchased property in the last year needs to be sure they have filed this paperwork.  [Read article here and listen to interview here.]

*Lawsuit filed challenging environmental impact statement and rule of particular applicability for Texas high speed rail.  Several plaintiffs have filed suit against the US Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration challenging two decisions made by the agencies in favor of the proposed Texas Central high-speed rail. [Read summary of decisions here.]  The lawsuit claims the FRA failed to follow required procedures during its review of the project, and claims that the environmental impact statement was based on false assumptions.  [Read article here.]

* EPA Administrator says Agency will not revert back to 2015 WOTUS definition, will re-write current Navigable Waters Protection Rule.   In testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee, Michael Regan said the EPA will not revert to the 2015 WOTUS definition.   Regan said, “What  I’m pledging to do is begin a stakeholder-engagement process involving our ag community — farm bureau, ag CEOs, our environmental community — to look at the lessons learned and how we can move forward and I’m interested in moving forward, not in a ping-pong way but a way that we can provide some certainty to the ag industry where we don’t overburden the small farmer but we also balance. I believe we can do it.”  [Read article here.]

*State of Maryland will appeal Clean Water Act ruling involving ammonia emissions.  About a month ago, we discussed a trial court ruling out of Maryland where the court found that Maryland must regulate air pollution–ammonia in particular–under the state’s implementation of the Clean Water Act.  Read discussion here.  The decision has raised concern for livestock producers who claim the scope of the Clean Water Act does not extend to air emissions.  Maryland has announced that it will appeal this decision.  [Read article here.]

*US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit upholds rejection of injunction against Missouri truth in labeling law.   In 2018, Missouri passed a law making it a criminal offense if a person misrepresents a product as “meat” when it is not derived from livestock or poultry.  The makers of Tofurky and various other groups filed a lawsuit alleging this law on Constitutional grounds.  They sought an injunction to prevent the law from becoming effective.  The trial court denied the injunction.  Recently, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed.  This means at this point, the law is in effect in Missouri, and the lawsuit challenging its Constitutionality will continue without an injunction blocking the law.  [Read Opinion here and article here.]

Upcoming Programs

I’ve got some office time the next couple of weeks to catch up on emails and do some research and writing.  My next presentations will be the Successful Succession estate planning events hosted by Texas Corn Producers.  We will be in McKinney on May 11 and Belton on May 12.  Click here for more info.

To see all of my upcoming programs, click here.

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