It has been a busy couple of weeks in the agricultural law world. Here’s a recap of some of the biggest stories.
* Texas Supreme Court will not hear Texas Central Railway eminent domain case. The Texas Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal in Miles v. Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure. This denial leaves in place the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals ruling that Texas Central is considered a “railroad company” and an “interurban railroad,” thereby giving it eminent domain power to condemn land for the high speed rail. To read my prior article on that Court of Appeals decision, click here. To read an article about the denial, click here.
* US Supreme Court issues several important opinions, refuses to hear California Proposition 12 challenge. The United States Supreme Court recently issued several decisions that have potential implications for agricultural producers and rural landowners. Of most note was the decision in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, which I wrote about in detail on Monday here. The Court’s opinions in Penneast Pipeline v. New Jersey (holding that Penneast pipeline can use eminent domain to take land owned by New Jersey), HollyFrontier Refining v. Renewable Fuels Association (ruling in favor of refineries seeking exemptions from a federal program requiring use of renewable fuels in blending gasoline and diesel) and Padkel v. City and County of San Francisco (unanimous decision for property owners holding administrative exhaustion of remedies not required for takings claim when government reached conclusive position) may also be of interest. On the flip side, the Court decided that it will not grant the Petition for Certiorari in North American Meat Institute v. Rodriquez, a case challenging California’s Proposition 12, which will require meat products sold in California to meet the state’s animal housing standards. No reason was given for the denial of the petition. Proposition 12 is set to go into effect January 1, 2022. [Read article here.]
*Colorado Supreme Court nixes Colorado PAUSE ballot initiative. A unanimous Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that the PAUSE ballot initiative does not meet the legal single subject requirements for a citizen ballot initiative in Colorado. The PAUSE initiative would have criminalized farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians using a number of common animal husbandry practices by deeming them cruelty to animals and would have banned slaughter for animals living less than 25% of their natural lifespan. Because of the Colorado Supreme Court ruling, the initiative will not be on the November ballot. [Read article here.]
* Agriculture Secretary seeks full review of “Product of the USA” meat label. Tom Vilsack said he believes the “Product of the USA” meat label and standards applicable to use should be fully reviewed by the USDA. [Read article here.]
*Florida amends Right to Farm law. Florida has amended its Right to Farm law to make several changes including expanding scope to include “agritourism activities,” expanding coverage to expressly apply to claims not only of nuisance, but also trespass, negligence, or any other tort, and expressly including particle emissions as a covered complaint. Additionally, the new law requires the plaintiff prove that the claimed nuisance does not comply with the law or best management practices by clear and convincing evidence, a standard higher than the standard preponderance of the evidence. Amendments will also limit compensatory damages and restrict when punitive damages may be recovered. The new law also imposes a 1/2 mile radius from the alleged nuisance requirement, similar to what was recently included in the North Carolina Right to Farm amendments. The law will also include an attorney fee provision. [Read article here.]
*American Agricultural Law Symposium registration open. Who wants to go to Salt Lake City? If you’re an ag lawyer (or a law student interested in agricultural law), you don’t want to miss the AALA Annual Education Symposium November 4-6, 2021. Joining AALA and attending this conference is one of the best things I did to help build my career in agricultural law. [Click here for more information.]
Next week, I’ll be back on the road again! On Wednesday, July 7, I’ll be speaking alongside Dr. Ron Gill and Dr. Temple Grandin at the Sandhills Beef Conference in Monahans. On Friday, I’ll be in San Antonio presenting at the State Bar of Texas Advanced Real Estate Law CLE. The following week, I’ll be speaking to the Youth Agricultural Lifetime Leadership group when they visit West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX on Tuesday, July 13. On Wednesday, July 14, I’m going to be discussing fence law as part of the Women in Ag Online Workshop hosted by Prairie View A&M University.
Additionally, we are hoping to launch our latest online course, Owning Your Piece of Texas: Key Laws Texas Landowners Need to Know in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting project!