CARTHAGE — About 100 landowners turned out for the East Texas Landowners Conference, hosted by the County Extension Agency and Panola County Groundwater Conservation District on Friday at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
“We do these about every three years, so that way, our landowners will kind of get the basis for some new topics,” said Extension Agent Lee Dudley.
Dudley said the various committees try to come up with topics about critical issues outside of their regular annual programs that are mostly geared toward 4H, forestry and wildlife.
“We’ve done estate planning programs for people to assist our older folks with estate planning, so they can learn how to pass their land on and their inheritance on to their kids,” he said. “So, all of the programs that we do, as part of the Agrilife Extension Agency system, are committee-based topics.”
Dudley said agents in neighboring Harrison County, Shelby County and Rusk County always help them advertise. Friday’s conference boasted a diverse crowd with attendees not only from Carthage, but from Marshall, Longview, Elysian Fields, Deadwood, Kilgore, Gladewater, Henderson, Atlanta, Gary, Clayton, Temple and more.
“It’s a good program,” said Dudley.
The extension agent said they were excited about guest speaker, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Extension Agricultural Law Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
“We’ve had her booked for over a year out,” he said.
Lashmet said she, too, was thrilled to be in East Texas to educate landowners.
“I cover the whole state of Texas doing these programs,” she said. “I’m from the Panhandle, so I am not used to East Texas; but I love coming here because, every time, they are the nicest people at every presentation. So I always try to say yes to programs in East Texas.”
Lashmet enlightened the crowd on three important topics: landowner liability, fence law and eminent domain.
“I think for Texas landowners, protecting yourself from liability is one of the most important things that you can do and there are actually a lot of options that you can do ahead of time to make sure that you are protected,” she said. “So one of my goals is to just let people know there are things you can do now; there are steps that you should take to deal with some of these issues.”
James and Jackie Wilkerson, of Troup, said they found the meeting to be very interesting. They were mostly anxious to hear the topic on landowner liability.
“I worry about someone getting hurt on my property,” James said, sharing he found the information to be helpful.
Henry and Willie Mae Rudd, of Elysian Field said they decided to check out the conference because they own property in Elysian Fields and manager her mother’s property in Panola County. They found the presentation on certain laws to be useful.
Cleon Williams, of Deadwood, said he wanted to learn more about eminent domain and the fencing law since he owns property and raises cattle.
“I enjoyed it,” Williams said of the conference.
He said he’s attended such meetings to not only educate himself and family, but possibly help someone else.
Lashmet has an award-winning podcast called “Ag Law in the Field” for landowners to learn more useful information.
“You can find it on your podcast app or on Itunes,” she said. “You can also just Google it on your computer and listen there.
“Every episode I interview an Ag lawyer about a different topic,” she added, noting they’ve done about 70 of them. “They’re free, so anyone can listen.”
Lashmet also has a Texas Agriculture Law blog as a helpful resource for landowners.
“Once or twice a week I post on different Ag law issues; so any cases that come out, checklist that I make — things like that — those all get put right there,” she said. “That, I think, is a great resource for landowners.”