Legal topics abound for landowners

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Apart from too much or too little rain, herd health or the production of a crop, there are several other issues to which farm and ranch owners need to pay attention.

Agriculture provides freedom, challenges and opportunities like few other business ventures. I get the chance to visit with numerous others around our area who share the joys and struggles. In my role, I get several inquiries from landowners that want to discuss how to take care of their land, make it more productive, and establish a legacy.

Under the current federal administration, the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) debate has been placed on the backburner and given landowners some time to relax, but we shouldn’t believe that we’ve heard the last of it. Even with changes at the EPA, there are some who will pursue this land grab and rural landowners must be aware of the implications.

Who owns the water in the creek that flows you’re your property? What about the water in your pond? You may never have considered it, but legally the state owns the water in rivers and streams. And regarding that old well on your place, have you registered it with the local groundwater conservation district? If not in the system and on the map, then when a neighboring landowner wants to sink a large water well, they’ll be allowed to do so because there will be no known conflict.

Eminent domain is still in the forefront. Eminent domain is the power of the government or someone acting upon power granted by the government to take private property for public use. The power of eminent domain is recognized in both the United States and Texas Constitutions. Again, the consequences of this very legal topic need to be understood.

Negotiating agricultural leases is often overlooked as an important issue, until something goes awry between the two parties. Looking at options and decisions with ag leases are of great importance.

Lastly, there is estate planning. Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person’s life. In the news recently is President Trump’s proposed tax plan. Are you following it? Or can anyone really, truly follow and understand the tax codes?

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be presenting a seminar entitled “Land, Water & Wealth: A Legal Symposium for East Texas Agriculture” later this month on Friday, May 19 at the Angelina County Office. This is an all-day seminar with lunch included.

Addressing these issues are two outstanding attorneys: Dr. Tiffany Lashmet and Jim Bradbury. Bradbury is an attorney and counselor representing clients in real estate and business transactions. His areas of expertise include water, wetland mitigation and banking, water quality, land use,

environmental and impacts to real property from oil and gas production. He serves on the board of the Texas Land Trust Council.

Dr. Lashmet is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist specializing in Agricultural Law with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Tiffany grew up on a family farm and ranch in Eastern New Mexico. Prior to joining Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Tiffany worked for four years at a law firm in Albuquerque practicing civil litigation. She is licensed to practice law in New Mexico and Texas. She writes a very successful Ag Law Blog that can be found at www.agrilife.org/texasaglaw.

This seminar will be an all-day program at the Angelina County Extension office. Valuable information on water law, eminent domain, estate planning, and negotiating agricultural leases are to be covered. Cost is $30 per person or $50 per couple. Call 936.634.6414 ext. 0 by May 12 to reserve a seat or for more information.

Author

Cary Sims
Cary Sims

Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu

Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

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