June 24, 2014
The recently passed USDA Farm Bill and continuing water concerns are just two of the issues facing farmers and ranchers.
But they’re also among issues facing agricultural law experts, and Texas Tech University recently held a Continuing Law Education (CLE) course for attorneys specializing in agricultural issues to get a step ahead.
The Eighth Annual John Huffaker Agricultural Law CLE was held May 29-30 with close to 100 participants from across the state. In addition to the 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law in February, and the ongoing water issues facing farmer and ranchers due to the extended drought, other topics discussed included current legal issues affecting the livestock and poultry industries as well as farm business and estate planning.
“The Ag Law Course has become one of the premier CLE events sponsored by the State Bar of Texas,” David K. Waggoner (’98) told the Texas Tech School of Law newsletter The Sidebar. “No other state provides this type of educational event for attorneys who practice agricultural law.”
The CLE was sponsored by The State Bar of Texas; Texas Rural Mediation Services; Capital Farm Credit; Texas Farm Bureau; Brady & Hamilton, PC; The Waggoner Law Firm, PLLC; and the law offices of James D. Bradbury, PLLC and J. Pete Laney.
Those unable to attend can view a broadcast of the CLE on July 10-11 at the Casa De Palmas Renaissance in McAllen on Aug. 7-8 and at the Texas Farm Bureau in Waco. A five-hour version of the CLE will be broadcast on Sept. 18 in Fredricksburg in advance of the Texas Tech School of Law’s Water to Wine CLE.
Eighth Annual John Huffaker Agricultural Law CLE
“Since 2006, the course has almost tripled in attendance,” Waggoner said. “Attorneys can also access the course via the State Bar CLE website.”
Other Texas Tech alums also gave presentations, according to The Sidebar. Elizabeth Hill (’12) of the Lubbock firm Craig, Terrill, Hale and Grantham showed whether wine grapes could be the future of Texas agriculture, particularly poignant to the local wine industry.
Huffaker (’74) himself gave a presentation, “The Top 10 Things Ag Lawyers Should Know,” which covered situations and guidelines for insolvencies, a common theme in the credit-dependent agricultural industry.
“There are many Texas and federal statutory provisions that are unique to agriculture, or, if not specific to agriculture, may have a unique applications to agricultural situations,” Huffaker, vice chancellor and general counsel for the Texas Tech University System, told The Sidebar.
“It is one thing to understand that, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the debtor estate generally has authority to continue to operate the business. It is quite another thing to understand how that plays out if the business must feed hundreds or even thousands of cattle on a daily basis.”
Waggoner said topics are already being discussed for next year’s CLE as well. Among those are regulatory issues affecting water usage by farmers and ranchers, intellectual property rights and the production of genetically modified crops, and the effects of the Federal Endangered Species Act on Texas farmers and ranchers.
The Texas Tech School of Law is a leader among Texas law schools with a 16-year average pass rate of 90 percent on the State Bar Exam.
A small student body, a diverse faculty and a low student-faculty ratio (15.3:1) promotes learning and encourages interaction between students and professors.