Accommodation Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

Texas Supreme Court:  Accommodation Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

Texas Agriculture Law Blog:

GroundwaterIn an important decision that could have far-reaching impacts, the Texas Supreme Court sided with the Coyote Lake Ranch, holding that the accommodation doctrine does apply to groundwater in Texas.

This case is extremely important for Texas landowners and groundwater owners. For the first time, the Texas Supreme Court announced that the accommodation doctrine, previously applied only in oil and gas severances, will apply in groundwater severances as well.


Texas Real Estate Attorney Hammers WOTUS Reg

LandOwner Newsletter Vol 37 Issue 9 May 12, 2016

Texas Real Estate Attorney Hammers WOTUS Reg
A court stay is the only wall standing between landowner property rights and a federal takeover of most of the nation’s land, says Judon Fambrough, an attorney with the Teal Estate Center at Texas A & M University. The result of the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) means “the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction now extends well beyond the navigable waters of the U.S. to practically all waters if implemented,” says Fambrough.

“If implemented, it would freeze all land use in place at the time of the implementation. That means if you want to make any sort of change in the way you use your land, you will need to file for a permit with the EPA and Corps, which is estimated to take up to three years and cost $250,000 to obtain,” he explains. “If you don’t obtain a permit, you are subject to a fine of $37,500 per day until land is returned to its original use.”  READ article

Unimproved Tracts Bring $4,500+ Per Acre


Unimproved Tracts Bring Over $4,500 per Acre in Auction

In a market thought to be between $3,000 and $4,000 per acre, Clift Land Auctions’ multi parcel auction process pushed the mark higher to average over $4,500 per acre. These unimproved tracts were part of two land auctions held on Tuesday, March 29th, one in White Deer, Texas and the other in Clarendon, Texas. George Clift, ALC, owner of Clift Land Auctions and Clift Land Brokers in Amarillo, Texas said of the auctions, “We had over 120 in attendance at these auctions with active bidding, which attributed to the nice return on the tracts that were sold.  Our experience shows that the multi parcel auction process brings out what the market is on a given day, and that holds true for Tuesday’s auctions.”

To kick off the bidding, Auctioneer Todd Robertson solicited a donation to the City of Groom Ambulance Services. The highest bidder, Plains Land Bank, represented by Stephen Donnell, Senior VP donated $300.00 at the Clarendon auction and another $475.00 at the White Deer Auction to help support this organization. Capital Farm Credit of Pampa, represented by Lance Weaver, VP Relationship Manager, stepped up to match both donations for a total of $775.00. Clift Land Auctions will match the Plains Land Bank donation with another $775.00.

Clift Land Auctions has been in the land auction business for over 13 years, and has sold over 200,000 acres of farms and ranches during that time.  For more information about Clift Land Auctions, the multi-parcel land auction process, and how you can benefit from this marketing option, visit or call 800-299-LAND (5263).

George Clift Named Land Realtor of America

George Clift Named Land Realtor of America

George Clift Named Land Realtor of America

George Clift Named Land Realtor of America

Amarillo, TX – Over 250 Land Professionals from 31 states gathered in Dallas, TX March 10-13, 2016 for the 2016 National Land Conference hosted by the REALTORS® Land Institute. Ninety-six Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) attended the conference and over twenty 2015 ALCs received their ALC pins at this year’s event.  During the conference,, the Institute presented seven distinguished ALC members with esteemed Institute Awards.  Among these was George Clift, ALC who received the Institute’s most prestigious honor, the 2015 Land Realtor of America Award. The Land Realtor of America Award recognizes members of the REALTORS® Land Institute for their effort and work expended in the interest of their fellow Institute members, their profession, and their community. Clift Land Brokers team members attending this year’s conference were George Clift (Amarillo, TX), Phyllis Riley (Clovis, NM), Sheldon Snyder (Dalhart, TX), Eric Turpen (Littlefield, TX), Rick Mefford (Gould, OK), Jodie Rapp (Legacy Ag Group), and Dick Bretz (Eslabon Properties, LP). The 2017 National Land Conference will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.

REALTORS® Land Institute is a national organization “created for and by land sales experts”.  Dedicated to providing educational and networking opportunities for land professionals, RLI has been instrumental in helping develop successful land real estate businesses.  RLI was founded in 1944 and is an affiliate organization of the National Association of Realtors®.

For more information, contact: Phyllis Riley, Clift Land Brokers at (806) 674-9639.

US drought footprint continues to shrink

by Brad Rippey, USDA Meteorologist

3-4-16 Drought Monitor

During the 4-week period ending on March 1, 2016, contiguous U.S. drought coverage fell to 14.30 percent—a decrease of 1.18 percentage points.  This also represents the smallest areal coverage of U.S. drought in nearly 5½ years, since October 12, 2010.  The U.S. drought minimum of 2010—7.74 percent coverage on July 6—occurred in the wake of the most recently completed El Niño, which lasted from the summer of 2009 to the spring of 2010. Since mid-October 2015, stormy weather in many parts of the country—in part driven by a strong El Niño—has significantly reduced the U.S. drought footprint from 34.78 to 14.30 percent—a drop of 20.48 percentage points. In February, however, disappointingly dry weather covered much of the West.  For example, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack was nearly steady during February at 20 to 22 inches, with few storms hitting key watershed areas.  Since February is typically an important month for Sierra Nevada snow pack accumulation, the percent of average snow pack dropped from about 115 percent of average on February 1 to just 85 percent by month’s end. READ MORE…

1031 Exchange Trends for 2016

From the 1031 Insider Newsletter, IPX Investment Property Exchange Services, Inc. January, 2016

FIRPTA – What the Change to FIRPTA Withholding Means for You
Under current federal law, if a foreign person sells US real property, the buyer is obligated to withhold 10% of the gross sales price and remit this to the IRS. Pursuant to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, however, which became law on December 18, 2015 (the “PATH Act”), the required 10% withholding will increase to 15% for all closings occurring on or after February 16, 2016. There is an exception to the increase for sales of a personal residence wherein the sales price is between $300,001 and $1,000,000. Under this circumstance, the 10% withholding rate continues to apply. In summary:

If the sales price is $300,000 or less AND the buyer will use as a personal residence – No change, exempt from withholding.
For all other real estate sales the buyer must withhold 15% of the sales price of the real estate (10% if a personal residence with a sale price between $300,001 and $1,000,000) and send it to the IRS within 20 days after the date of transfer.

1031 Tax Reform Update
The most important news for the Section 1031 community coming out of the year-end tax and budget bills was the absence of any mention of §1031 as a “pay-for” for any of the expenditures in those bills. These are expensive bills, so non-mention of §1031 is a big win for all of us that have been so engaged in the campaign to increase the level of awareness that like-kind exchanges are not a loop-hole, but rather an important economic stimulator. Our major concern has been, and continues to be, that elimination of §1031 may be cherry-picked to pay for reduced tax rates and other governmental costs.


CRP Enrollment Deadline

The most current general enrollment for the Conservation Reserve Program began December 1, 2015. Enrollment will run thru February 26, 2016.  According to the  USDA, “as of September, 2015. 24.2 million acres were enrolled in CRP.  CRP is also protecting 170,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times.”  Check out the USDA’s Celebrating 30 Years of the Conservation Reserve Program.

It Is Not About Your Equity

by Peter Martin |

Like most farmers, the bulk of your net worth is likely in the equity of your ground. But you might have discovered a “land rich” net worth, even a sizeable one, doesn’t assure banks will approve a loan renewal.

Generally speaking, ag lenders are cash-flow lenders. Like you, they don’t like low commodity prices. While your net worth is important to them, they’re far more interested in a positive cash flow that allows loan payments to be made as agreed. That’s not easy today. Many of you are struggling to pencil out a breakeven, let alone a profit. And then there are loan payments. As a result, many farmers face troubled loan renewals. Don’t fall for the flawed argument that equity alone will get you through your renewal, but do tout your equity as additional support for your request. READ MORE

Texas Blizzard Impact Will Bring Total to 40,000 Lost Southwest Dairy Cattle By Lucas Sjostrom

“Keep ‘em in your prayers,” asked Darren Turley, executive director of the Texas Association of Dairymen on Thursday. He was referring to the Southwest dairies suffering from Winter Storm Goliath.

Four days after what is possibly the worst storm on record for cattle in the area, operations are returning to normal. The storm rolled into the Clovis, N.M., and Lubbock, Texas, region Saturday evening and was gone by Monday morning.

But the 22” inches of snow paired with wind gusts, some reaching over 60 miles per hour, was too much for many cattle, and proved impossible for some dairies to continue operating at the time. The uncharacteristic weather was to the extreme for the High Plains region.

Turley said one area farmer recalled that he was in his 34th year of dairying there, and occasionally started milking late due to weather, but never missed one. Last weekend, that farmer missed 1.5 days of milking. Turley said many farms missed one or more milkings on Sunday, with some also missing Saturday evening or Monday morning.

At some locations, the National Guard came in to shut down roads, ensuring no milk was moved from one area to another. Turley expects a small bump in price due to a lack of milk and cheese being delivered, but losses from storm deaths, lingering health issues, and future losses – potentially big as snow melts and makes for muddy conditions – will be far greater.