You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Landowners beware: Criminals can sue you
By Matt Felder
Nowhere is the rich diversity of Texas agriculture more pronounced than in the Rio Grande Valley. Name it and it’s probably grown in Deep South Texas.
In February, I had an eye-opening experience when I traveled to the border, stood on the banks of the Rio Grande River, and talked to landowners about the escalating violence from the drug cartels and human smugglers just a short swim away.
Here in the Valley -- like many Texas farms and ranches -- the family history on the same plot of land can date back generations. That legacy is threatened by the constant harassment and threats these producers face day in and day out. Some have already called it quits. More on what I found on this trip can be found in my story, “Collateral Damage.”
It’s unfortunate what is happening in South Texas. Personally, I can’t begin to comprehend the challenges they face each day -- even after standing face to face with them and listening to their accounts.
What is really mind-boggling is what I heard in Falfurrias, about 80 miles due north of the border. This area has become known as the “walk around” to the locals. Landowners here have to deal with trespassing, drug running, and other illegal activities on a daily basis.
There I met Susan Durham, executive director of the South Texans’ Property Rights Association. She told me of an incident where a local landowner was being sued by coyotes (human traffickers) who had rolled a truck after hitting a cattle guard, killing three illegal immigrants. From what I hear, that’s not an isolated incident.
I’ll let that sink in for a minute because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing the first time, either. To me, it’s an insane revelation. The sad part is, it’s happening. Texas farmers and ranchers have enough to worry about. They shouldn’t be subjected to frivolous lawsuits, especially in regard to people who choose to endanger lives to be in this country illegally.
There is legislation under consideration in Austin that deals with landowner liability in these cases. Hopefully, it’s on the right path to help landowners stay out of hot water when it comes to trespassers.
After all, trespassers shouldn’t be there in the first place -- especially if they crossed the border illegally.
Matt Felder is field editor for the Texas Farm Bureau.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
Floresville FFA teams state-bound (April 27, 2016)
Floresville FFA wins in Houston — livestock, judging, tractor restorations (April 27, 2016)
Hail damage may reduce harvest (April 27, 2016)
Karnes City Auction sale (April 27, 2016)
Land Stewardship produces a healthy Texas (April 27, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (April 27, 2016)
Pesticide class set for May 16 (April 27, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (April 27, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (April 27, 2016)
Ag program for military (April 20, 2016)
Benefit team roping in Jourdanton (April 20, 2016)
Bird feeding options (April 20, 2016)
Catfish management plan released (April 20, 2016)
County 4-H’ers place in Houston (April 20, 2016)
Guada-Coma Chapter news (April 20, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (April 20, 2016)
Regional conservation partnership (April 20, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (April 20, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (April 20, 2016)
Youth Range Workshop (April 20, 2016)
Always follow label instructions (April 13, 2016)
Chemical collection is May 11 (April 13, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (April 13, 2016)
Nixon-Smiley show produces champions (April 13, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (April 13, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (April 13, 2016)
East Central’s Patterson, Kempen, and poultry team win at SA show (April 6, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (April 6, 2016)
Pruning without painting? (April 6, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (April 6, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (April 6, 2016)
Tree grafting, pruning workshop (April 6, 2016)
Wilson County Spring Educational Program (April 6, 2016)
April 2016 Gardening Calendar (April 1, 2016)