Thursday, April 14, 2022

When Is an Agricultural Activity a Nuisance?

Overview

Land use conflicts are often present in urban, residential and commercial areas.  However, they also occur in rural areas.  Large-scale livestock agricultural operations, wind “farms” and similar rural land uses present many of the same issues.

How does the law handle rural land-use conflicts?  How can these conflict situations with adjoining landowners best be minimized or avoided? 

Land use conflicts in rural areas, ag nuisances and pointers for minimizes conflict among landowners – this is the discussion of today’s post.

What’s An Ag Nuisance?

A nuisance is an invasion of an individual's interest in the use and enjoyment of land rather than an interference with the exclusive possession or ownership of the land.  See, e.g., Peters, et al. v. Contigroup, et al., 292 S.W.3d 380 (Mo. Ct. App. 2009); Jones v. Hart, 2021 Vt. 61, 261 A.3d 1126 (2021).  Nuisance law prohibits land uses that unreasonably and substantially interfere with another individual's quiet use and enjoyment.  The doctrine is based on two interrelated concepts: (1) landowners have the right to use and enjoy property free of unreasonable interferences by others; and (2) landowners must use property so as not to injure adjacent owners. In a nuisance action, proof of general damages (diminished quality of life) may be sufficient evidence to support a monetary award.  See, e.g., Stephens, et al. v. Pillen, 681 N.W.2d 59, 12 Neb. App. 600 (2004).

The two primary issues at stake in any agricultural nuisance dispute are whether the use alleged to be a nuisance is reasonable for the area and whether the use alleged to be a nuisance substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of neighboring land.  See, e.g., Bower v. Hog Builders, Inc., 461 S.W.2d 784 (Mo. 1970). 

Are Nuisance and Negligence the Same?

“Nuisance” and “negligence” are not the same thing.  Operating a farming or ranching activity properly and having all requisite permits may still constitute a nuisance if a court or jury determines the activity is “unreasonable” and causes a “substantial interference” with another person's use and enjoyment of property.  Whether a complained of activity, such as spreading manure, results in a “substantial” and “unreasonable” interference with another's property will depend on the facts of each case and the legal rules used in the particular jurisdiction.  See, e.g., Penland v. Redwood Sanitary Sewer Service District, 156 Or. App. 311, 965 P.2d 433 (1998).

Because each claim of nuisance depends on the fact of the case, there are no easy rules to determine when an activity will be considered a nuisance.  In general, a court faced with a particular nuisance claim will consider several factors.  See, e.g., Hernandez v. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, No. 3:19-cv-1404-JR, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109784 (D. Or. Jun. 23, 2020).  Primary among these factors is whether the use complained of is a reasonable use that is common to the area or whether it is not suitable. See, e.g., May v. Brueshaber, 265 Ga. 889, 466 S.E.2d 196 (1995).  Also important is whether the use complained of is a minor inconvenience which happens very infrequently or whether it is a regular and continuous activity.  The nature of the property use being disturbed is also an important consideration.  If the interference has a significant impact on the complaining party's use of their own property, such as the prevention of living in the complaining party's home, a nuisance will likely be found.  Similarly, if the complained of use is preventing another landowner's use of their property that is a vital part of the local economy, the court will balance the economics of the situation and most likely conclude that the complained of use constituted a nuisance.  An additional important factor, but not conclusive in and of itself of the issue is whether the complained of use was in existence prior to the complaining party's use of their property which is now claimed to be interfered with.  A related concern, if the activity generating the alleged nuisance was in existence prior to the complaining party moving into the vicinity, is whether the nuisance activity was obvious at the time the complaining party moved in. 

Note:   Many courts also attempt to balance the economic value to society of the uses in question.  If the complained of use adds jobs and income to the local economy, the value to society of continuing the alleged nuisance may outweigh the negative impact it causes.

If A Nuisance Exists, What Then?

If a court determines that a nuisance (just one that is anticipated to occur in the future) exists, it has much discretion in establishing an appropriate remedy for a nuisance.  The most common remedy is for the court to stop (enjoin) the nuisance activity. See, e.g., Moody, et al. v. Wiza, 2007 Ohio 5356 (Ohio Ct. App. 2007); Simpson, et.al. v. Kollasch, et. al., 749 N.W.2d 671 (Iowa 2008); Walker, et al. v. Kingfisher Wind, LLC, No. CIV-14-D, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141710 (W.D. Okla. Oct. 13, 2016).  However, most courts try to fashion a remedy to fit the particular situation. See, e.g., Valasek v. Baer, 401 N.W.2d 33 (Iowa 1987); Spur Industries, Inc. v. Del E. Webb Development Co., 108 Ariz. 178, 494 P.2d 700 (1972). 

Aesthetic Injury Only?

What if the only complained-of problem is aesthetic?  Is that enough to make out a claim for nuisance?  The issue has come up in a court case from Vermont involving solar panels.  In Myrick v. Peck Electric Co., 204 Vt. 128, 164 A.3d 658 (2017), the plaintiff was a landowner that sued the defendant, two solar energy companies, when the plaintiff’s neighbors leased property to the defendants for the purpose of constructing commercial solar arrays (panels). The plaintiff claimed that the solar arrays constituted a private nuisance by negatively affecting the surrounding area’s rural aesthetic which also caused local property values to decline. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants. On appeal, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. The Court noted that Vermont law has held, dating back to the late 1800s, that private nuisance actions based on aesthetic disapproval alone are barred. The Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the historic Vermont position should change based on changed society. The Court also rejected the notion that Vermont private nuisance law was broad enough to apply to aesthetic harm, stating that, “An unattractive sight, without more, is not a substantial interference as a matter of law because the mere appearance of the property of another does not affect a citizen’s ability to use and enjoy his or her neighboring land.” Emotional distress is not an interference with the use or enjoyment of land, the court stated. But, if the solar panels casted reflections, for example, that could be an interference with the use and enjoyment of one’s property. Aesthetic values, the court noted, are inherently subjective and the court wasn’t going to set an aesthetic standard. The Court also noted that the plaintiffs had conceded at oral argument that they were not pursuing a claim that diminution in value, by itself, was sufficient to constitute a nuisance. However, the Court went on to state that a nuisance claim based solely on loss in value invites speculation that the Court would not engage in. 

The Vermont court’s decision follows the majority rule among jurisdictions in the United States. There are some exceptions.  For example, a few courts have held that proof of general damages (diminished quality of life) may be sufficient evidence to support a monetary award.  See, e.g., Stephens, et al. v. Pillen, 12 Neb. App. 600 (2004).  But, in general, aesthetic injury, by itself, is not enough to make a claim for nuisance.  However, if it is coupled with claims of substantial interference with use and enjoyment of property, a nuisance claim might successfully be made.  Renewable energy generation (solar and wind) tends to require a large amount of land for its operation, but unsightliness, by itself, is likely not enough to constitute a nuisance. 

Landlord Liability for Tenant’s Nuisance

Generally, a landlord is not responsible for the acts of a tenant.  But there are exceptions to that general rule.  One of those exceptions applies when the landlord knows that the tenant is harming the property rights of adjacent landowners and does nothing to modify the tenant’s conduct or terminate the lease.  In that situation, the landlord can be held liable along with the tenant.  A good example of this can be found in Tetzlaff v. Camp, et al., 715 N.W.2d 256 (Iowa 2006).  In the case, a farm tenant operated a hog facility for the landlord.  The plaintiff lived adjacent to land on which the tenant surface spread hog manure within 90-feet of the plaintiff’s home.  The plaintiff complained to the landlord over approximately a four-year period.  The complaints fell on deaf ears.  The plaintiff sued and the Iowa Supreme Court held that the landlord was responsible for the tenant’s creation of a nuisance because the landlord knew of the tenant’s conduct, its impact on the plaintiff and did nothing about it. 

Potential Defenses

Priority of location.  If a farmer gets sued for the alleged creation of a nuisance, how does the farmer mount a defense?  While there are no common law defenses that an agricultural operation may use to shield itself from liability arising from a nuisance action, as noted above, the courts do consider a variety of factors to determine if the conduct of a particular farm or ranch operation is a nuisance.  Of primary importance are priority of location and reasonableness of the operation.  Together, these two factors have led courts to develop a “coming to the nuisance” defense.  This means that if people move to an area they know is not suited for their intended use, they should be prohibited from claiming that the existing uses are nuisances.

Right-to-farm laws.  Every state has enacted a right-to-farm law that is designed to protect existing agricultural operations by giving farmers and ranchers who meet the legal requirements a defense in nuisance suits.  The basic thrust of a particular state's right-to-farm law is that it is unfair for a person to move to an agricultural area knowing the conditions which might be present and then ask a court to declare a neighboring farm a nuisance.  Thus, the basic purpose of a right-to-farm law is to create a legal and economic climate in which farm operations can be continued.  Right-to-farm laws can be an important protection for agricultural operations, but, to be protected, an agricultural operation must satisfy the law's requirements.  See, e.g., Alpental Community Club, Inc., v. Seattle Gymnastics Society, 86 P.3d 784 (Wash. Ct. App. 2004); Hood River County v. Mazzara, 89 P.3d 1195 (Or. Ct. App. 2004). 

The most common type of right-to-farm law is nuisance related.  This type of statute requires that an agricultural operation will be protected only if it has been in existence for a specified period of time (usually at least one year) before the change in the surrounding area that gives rise to a nuisance claim. See, e.g., Vicwood Meridian Partnership, et al. v. Skagit Sand and Gravel, 98 P. 3d 1277 (Wash. Ct. App. 2004).  These types of statute essentially codify the “coming to the nuisance defense,” but do not protect agricultural operations which were a nuisance from the beginning or which are negligently or improperly run.  For example, if any state or federal permits are required to properly conduct the agricultural operation, they must be acquired as a prerequisite for protection under the statute. 

Another type of right-to-farm statute may be structured to bar local and county governments from enacting regulations or ordinances that impose restrictions on normal agricultural practices.  Still another type exempts (at least in part) agricultural uses from county zoning ordinances.  The major legal issue involving this type of statute is whether a particular activity is an agricultural use or a commercial activity.  In general, “agricultural use” is defined broadly.  See, e.g., Knox County v. The Highlands, L.L.C., 302 Ill. App. 3d 342, 705 N.E.2d 128 (1998), aff’d, 723 N.E.2d 256 (Ill. 1999).

Note:   Sometimes noise may not appear to be connected with the production of agricultural products, but it actually might be.  For instance, a howling dog in the night might normally be considered to be a nuisance because it interferes with a neighbor’s right to use and enjoy their property.  But the noise of the barking dog might be because the dog is guarding livestock and, thus, the dog is engaged in an agricultural activity that is protected by a right-to-farm statute.  See, e.g., Hood River City v. Mazzara, 193 Ore. App. 272, 89 P.3d 1195 (Or. Ct. App. 2004). 

An important point is that while right-to-farm laws try to assure the continuation of farming operations, they do not protect subsequent changes in a farming operation that constitute a nuisance after local development occurs nearby.  See, e.g., Davis, et al. v. Taylor, et al., 132 P.3d 783 (Wash. Ct. App. 2006); Flansburgh v. Coffey, 370 N.W.2d 127 (Neb. 1985).  While a right-to-farm law may not bar an action for a change in operations when a nuisance is present, if a nuisance cannot be established a right-to-farm law can operate to bar an action when the agricultural activity on land changes in nature. See, e.g., Dalzell, et al. v. Country View Family Farms, LLC, No. 1:09-cv-1567-WTL-MJD, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130773 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 13, 2012), aff’d., 517 Fed. Appx. 578 (7th Cir. 2013). See also Parker v. Obert’s Legacy Dairy, 988 N.E.2d 319 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013).

Conclusion

Land use conflicts in rural areas are not uncommon and have become more prevalent in recent decades as the structure of agriculture had changed and new types of rural land uses have appeared.  To minimize conflict with neighbors and stay out of court defending a nuisance case, attention should be paid to certain key points.  Location of any facility that could give rise to a nuisance claim is key.  Related to location, particularly with respect to odor-related issues is wind direction.  For confinement livestock facilities, proper ventilation is key as is manure storage and field injection practices.  Of course, the overall appearance of farm structures is important - perhaps almost as important as are manure disposal practices. 

Keeping these points in mind just might keep the farming operation out of court.

April 14, 2022 in Civil Liabilities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 21, 2022

Animal Ag Facilities and the Constitution

Overview

In response to attempts to shut down animal confinement operations by activist groups, legislatures in several states have enacted laws designed to protect these businesses by limiting access. A common approach is for the law to criminalize the use of deception to access a confined livestock facility or meatpacking plant with the intent to cause physical harm, economic harm or some other type of injury to the business. But the laws have generally been struck down on free speech and equal protection grounds.  Is there a way for states to provide legal protection to confinement livestock facilities?  What can these facilities do to protect themselves? 

Laws designed to protect confined animal livestock facilities from those intended to do them harm – it’s the topic of today’s post.

General Statutory Construct

The basic idea of state legislatures that have attempted to provide a level of protection to livestock facilities is to bar access to an animal production facility under false pretenses.  At their core, the laws attempt to prohibit a person having the intent to harm a livestock production facility from gaining access to the facility (such as via employment) to then commit illegal acts on the premises.  See, e.g., Iowa Code §717A.3A.  Laws that bar lying and trespass coupled with the intent to do physical harm to an animal production facility should not be constitutionally deficient.  Laws that go beyond those confines may be. 

The Iowa provisions.  Iowa legislation is a common example of how states have attempted to address the issue.  The Iowa legislature has made two attempts at crafting a state law that would withstand a constitutional challenge.  The initial version criminalized “agricultural production facility fraud” if a person willfully obtained access to such a facility by false pretenses (the “access” provision) or made a false statement or representation as part of an application or agreement to be employed at the facility (the “employment” provision).  The law also required the person to know that the statement was false when made and that it was made with an intent to commit a knowingly unauthorized act.  Iowa Code §717A.3A.  This initial statutory version was challenged and, as discussed below, the employment provision was deemed unconstitutional.

The Iowa legislature then modified the law with a second version that described an agricultural production facility trespass as occurring when a person uses deception “on a matter that would reasonably result in a denial of access to an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public, and, through such deception, gains access to [the facility], with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the [facility’s] operations, agricultural animals, crop, owner, personnel, equipment, building, premises, business interest, or customer [the “access” provision].  The revised law also criminalizes the use of deception “on a matter that would reasonably result in a denial of an opportunity to be employed  at [a facility] that is not open to the public, and, through such deception, is so employed, with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the [facility’s] operations, agricultural animals, crop, owner, personnel, equipment, building, premises, business interest, or customer [the “employment” provision].

In other words, the Iowa provisions criminalizes the use of lies to either gain access or employment at an ag production facility where the use is coupled with the intent to do harm.  Sounds quite reasonable, doesn’t it?  But the courts (a place where the telling of a lie can come with severe penalties) have generally come to a different conclusion.

Recent Court Opinions

North Carolina.  In 2017, a challenge to the North Carolina statutory provision was dismissed for lack of standing. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Stein, 259 F. Supp. 3d 369 (M.D. N.C. 2017). The plaintiffs, numerous animal rights activist groups, brought a pre-enforcement challenge to the North Carolina Property Protection Act.  They claimed that the law unconstitutionally stifled their ability to investigate North Carolina employers for illegal or unethical conduct and restricted the flow of information those investigations provide.  As noted, the court dismissed the case for lack of standing. On appeal, however, the appellate court reversed.  PETA, Inc. v. Stein, 737 Fed. Appx. 122 (4th Cir. 2018).  The appellate court determined that the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the law through its “chilling effect” on their First Amendment rights to investigate and publicize actions on private property.  They also alleged a reasonable fear that the law would be enforced against them. 

On the merits, the trial court then held that the challenged provisions of the law were unconstitutional under the First Amendment as a violation of the plaintiffs’ free speech rights.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Stein, 466 F. Supp. 3d 547 (M.D.  N.C. 2020).

Utah.  The Utah law was also deemed unconstitutional. Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert, 263 F. Supp. 3d 1193 (D. Utah 2017). At issue was Utah Code §76-6-112 which criminalizes the entering of a private agricultural livestock facility under false pretenses or via trespass to photograph, audiotape or videotape practices inside the facility.  While the state claimed that lying, which the statute regulates, is not protected free speech, the court determined that only lying that causes “legally cognizable harm” falls outside First Amendment protection. The state also argued that the act of recording is not speech that is protected by the First Amendment. However, the court determined that the act of recording is protectable First Amendment speech. The court also concluded that the fact that the speech occurred on a private agricultural facility did not render it outside First Amendment protection. The court determined that both the lying and the recording provisions of the Act were content-based provisions subject to strict scrutiny. To survive strict scrutiny the state had to demonstrate that the restriction furthered a compelling state interest. The court determined that “the state has provided no evidence that animal and employee safety were the actual reasons for enacting the Act, nor that animal and employee safety are endangered by those targeted by the Act, nor that the Act would actually do anything to remedy those dangers to the extent that they exist.”  For those reasons, the court determined that the Act was unconstitutional. 

A Wyoming law experienced a similar fate. Western Watersheds Project v. Michael, 869 F.3d 1189 (10th Cir. 2017), rev’g., 196 F. Supp. 3d 1231 (D. Wyo. 2016).  In 2015, two new Wyoming laws went into effect that imposed civil and criminal liability upon any person who "[c]rosses private land to access adjacent or proximate land where he collects resource data." Wyo. Stat. §§6-3-414(c); 40-27-101(c). The appellate court, reversing the trial court, determined that because of the broad definitions provided in the statutes, the phrase "collects resource data" included numerous activities on public lands (such as writing notes on habitat conditions, photographing wildlife, or taking water samples), so long as an individual also records the location from which the data was collected. Accordingly, the court held that the statutes regulated protected speech in spite of the fact that they also governed access to private property. While trespassing is not protected by the First Amendment, the court determined that the statutes targeted the “creation” of speech by penalizing the collection of resource data. 

Note:  The appellate court remanded the case to the trial court for a determination of the appropriate level of scrutiny and whether the statutes survived review.   Ultimately, the trial court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding that the statutes were content based and, as such failed to withstand constitutional strict scrutiny review on the basis that the laws were not narrowly tailored.  Western Watersheds Project v. Michael, 353 F. Supp. 3d 1176 (D. Wyo. 2018). 

Ninth Circuit.  In early 2018, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a detailed opinion involving the Idaho statutory provision.  Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden, 878 F.3d 1184 (9th Cir. 2018).  The Ninth Circuit’s opinion provides a roadmap for state lawmakers to follow to provide at least a minimal level of protection to animal production facilities from those that would intend to do them economic harm.  According to the Ninth Circuit, state legislation can bar entry to a facility by force, threat or trespass.  Likewise, the acquisition of economic data by misrepresentation can be prohibited.  Similarly, criminalizing the obtaining of employment by false pretenses coupled with the intent to cause harm to the animal production facility is not constitutionally deficient.  However, provisions that criminalize audiovisual recordings are suspect. 

Eighth Circuit.  In 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit construed the initial version of the Iowa law and upheld the portion of it providing for criminal penalties for gaining access to a covered facility by false pretenses.  Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Reynolds, 8 F.4th 781 (8th Cir. 2021).  This is the first time that any federal circuit court of appeals has upheld a provision that makes illegal the gaining of access to a covered facility by lying.   

Conversely, the court held that the employment provision of the law (knowingly making a false statement to obtain employment) violated the First Amendment because the law was not limited to false claims that were made to gain an offer of employment.  Instead, the provision provided for prosecution of persons who made false statements that were incapable of influencing an offer of employment.  A prohibition on immaterial falsehoods was not necessary to protect the State’s interest – such as false exaggerations made to impress the job interviewer.  The court determined that barring only false statements that were material to a hiring decision was a less restrictive means to achieve the State’s interest. 

Note.  The day before the Eighth Circuit issued its opinion concerning the Iowa law, it determined that plaintiffs challenging a comparable Arkansas law had standing the bring the case.  Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Vaught, 8 F.4th 714 (8th Cir. 2021).  The court later denied a petition for rehearing.   Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Vaught, No. 20-1538, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 27712 (8th Cir. Sept. 15, 2021). 

In late 2019, the plaintiffs in the Iowa case file suit to enjoin the second version of the Iowa law – Iowa Code §717A.3B.  The trial court agreed and preliminary enjoined the revised law.  The plaintiffs then filed a motion for summary judgment in early 2020 and the state filed a cross motion for summary judgment, and the case was continued while the appellate court was considering the case involving the initial version of the Iowa law.  As noted above, the appellate court ultimately upheld the access provision but not the employment provision.  The trial court, in the current case upheld the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding that the revised statutory language had been slightly modified, but was substantially similar to the initial version.  As such, the trial court determined that the revised statute discriminated based on content and viewpoint and was unconstitutional under a strict scrutiny analysis.  Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Reynolds, No. 4:19-cv-00124-SMR-HCA, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48142 (S.D. Iowa Mar. 14, 2022). 

Tenth Circuit.  In Animal Legal Defense Fund, et al. v. Kelly, 9 F.4th 1219 (10th Cir. 2021), pet. for cert. filed, (U.S. Sup. Ct. Nov. 17, 2021), the court construed the Kansas provision that makes it a crime to take pictures or record videos at a covered facility “without the effective consent of the owner and with the intent to damage the enterprise.”  The plaintiffs claimed that the law violated their First Amendment free speech rights.  The State claimed that what was being barred was conduct rather than speech and that, therefore, the First Amendment didn’t apply.  But, the court tied conduct together with speech to find a constitutional violation – it was necessary to lie to gain access to a covered facility and consent to film activities.  As such, the law regulated protected speech (lying with intent to cause harm to a business) and was unconstitutional.  The court determined that the State failed to prove that the law narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest in suppressing the “speech” involved.  The dissent pointed out (correctly and consistently with the Eighth Circuit) that “lies uttered to obtain consent to enter the premises of an agricultural facility are not protected speech.” The First Amendment does not protect a fraudulently obtained consent to enter someone else’s property. 

A Different Approach?

The appellate courts generally holding that the right to free speech protects false factual statements that inflict real harm and serve no legitimate interest runs contrary to an established line of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, at least until the Court’s decision in United States v. Alvarez, 567 U.S. 709 (2012).  See, e.g., Bill Johnson’s Restaurants, Inc. v. NLRB, 461 U.S. 731 (1983); Brown v. Hartlage, 456 U.S. 45 (1982); Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153 (1979); Garrison v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 64 (1964).  The current split between the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits on the constitutionality of the Iowa Idaho and Kansas laws with respect to the issue of gaining access to a covered facility by lying could warrant a Supreme Court review. 

Indiana trespass law.  Short of a Supreme Court review of a state statute such as that of Iowa, Idaho or Kansas, is there another approach that a state might take to provide protection for agricultural livestock facilities?  The state of Indiana’s approach might be the answer.  In 2014, the Indiana legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law the “Indiana Trespass Law.”  Ind. Code 35-43-2-2.  Under the statute, “trespass” is defined as being on a property after being denied entry by the property owner, court order or by a posted sign (or purple paint).  If the trespass involves a dwelling (including an ag operation), the landowner need not deny entry for a trespass to be established.  The law also sets various thresholds for criminal violations. 

The Indiana law appears to base property entry on the legal property interest of that of a license.  A license is a term that covers a wide range of permissive land uses which, unless permitted, would be trespasses.  For example, a hunter who is on the premises with permission is a licensee.  The hunter has a license for the limited purpose of hunting only.  If the hunter were to videotape any activity on the premises, that would constitute a trespass as exceeding the scope of the license.  An unlawful entry.  This would be the same result for a farm employee.  Video recording would be outside the scope of employment. By focusing on the property interest of a license and that of a trespass for unauthorized entry, a claim of a possible free speech violation is eliminated.

Hiring Practices

In light of activists that wish to harm animal agriculture, ag animal facilities should utilize common sense steps to minimize potential problems.  Of course, not mistreating animals should always be the standard.  Proper hiring practices are also very important.  A well drafted employment agreement should be used for workers hired to work in an ag animal facility to  help screen potential hires.  The agreement should specify in detail the job requirements and what is not permitted to occur on the premises and inside buildings.  The agreement should give the employer the right to search every employee for devices that could be used to record activities on the farm and in farm buildings.  Also, employee training should be provided and documented.  Also, it’s critical that employee conduct be closely monitored to ensure that employees are acting within the scope of their employment and that animals are being treated appropriately. 

Conclusion

It’s unfortunate that groups exist dedicated to damage and/or eliminate certain aspects of animal agriculture, and that they will use lies and deception to become employed and gain access.  But, until state law is drafted in a way that will be found constitutional, livestock operations must adopt hiring and business practices that will minimize potential harm.

March 21, 2022 in Civil Liabilities, Criminal Liabilities, Real Property, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 18, 2022

Agritourism

Overview

Agritourism activities have expanded in recent years as an additional income stream for some farming and ranching operations and rural landowners in general, generating about $1 billion dollars nationwide.  But, engaging in an agritourism activity (or activities) on the premises means that members of the public will be invited to be present upon paying a fee.  That raises the prospect of injury and potential liability. 

The liability issue is a major concern for landowners.  In the U.S., about 80 percent of respondents to a survey listed concerns about liability as a limiting factor of engaging in agritourism activities.  Chase, et al., Agritourism and On-Farm Direct Sales Survey:  Results for Vermont, University of Vermont extension (2021).   Also, about that same percentage were worried about the cost and availability of insurance.  Id.  To address landowner liability and other concerns, and incentivize agritourism activities, many states have enacted agritourism statutes.  What does such legislation do?  What liability protection is provided?

Agritourism laws – it’s the topic of today’s post.

In General

Agritourism generally includes numerous activities on a rural property associated with either entertainment, recreational, educational and even commercial activities.  The USDA defines agritourism (and recreational) activities generally as “hunting, fishing, farm or wine tours, hayrides, etc.” USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), 2017 Census of Agriculture, Explanation and Census of Agricultural Report Form, B-24 Appendix B (2019)).  Also commonly treated as agritourism are famers markets, roadside farm stands and “U-Pick” operations, but a permit may be required.  See e.g., Utah Code Ann. §26-15B-105.  It is also possible that the definition of “agritourism” could be statutorily defined to include certain types of overnight accommodations, hayrides, corn mazes, riding on tractors and other farm equipment, riding on horses, playing around or climbing on hay bales, and weddings.  See, e.g., Va. Code Ann. §3-2-6400.  The definition may also include camping and tours of the property.  But some states exclude some of these activities from the definition of agritourism.  The key is to always check the specifics of state law.

Federal Law

In early 2022, H.R. 6408 was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives.  The bill would create a Department of Agritourism.  The bill defines “agritourism” to include education, outdoor recreation, entertainment, direct sales. the provision of certain types of accommodations, and dining on a farm.  The bill was introduced into the House Agriculture Committee on January 13, 2022, where it presently remains. 

State Laws 

Liability.  In recent years, numerous states have enacted agritourism legislation designed to limit landowner liability to those persons engaging in an “agritourism activity.”  A majority of states now have enacted such laws. Typically, the legislation protects the landowner (commonly defined as a “person who is engaged in the business of farming or ranching and [who] provides one or more agritourism activities, whether or not for compensation”) from liability for injuries to participants or spectators associated with the inherent risks of a covered activity.  See, e.g., Tenn. Code Ann. §43-39-103 (requiring posting of warning signs informing of no liability for injury or death arising from inherent risks).  Without such liability protection a landowner is generally held liable for an injury to an invited guest under a high standard of care that requires the landowner to make sure the premises is safe, exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, and warn of hidden dangers. 

The statutes tend to be written very broadly and have various standards of care that might apply to a landowner.  For instance, legislation introduced into the Illinois legislature in early 2022 would grant liability protection to landowners for claims arising from participation in broadly defined agritourism activities.  IL H.B. 5487.  If the “agritourism operator” posts the statutorily required warning notice, the operator is not liable for the injury or death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of participating in an agritourism activity.  The operator is not protected, however, if the operator acts with willful or wanton disregard for the participant’s safety and the operator’s conduct is causally related to the participant’s injury or death.  The same is true if the operator fails to disclose known inherent risks. 

Note:  Many states have statutory provisions similar to what Illinois is considering.  For instance, with many state statutes, the landowner must post warning signs to receive the protection of the statute, and in some states the landowner must register their property with the state. See, e.g., 3 Pa. Stat. §2604.

This modification in the standard of care under an agritourism statute is common among the states with an agritourism statute. See, e.g., N.C. Gen. Stat. §99E-1(a); 4 Tex. Admin. Code §75A.002(a)(1)-(2).  Under these state statutes, liability is limited in situations where the landowner acted wantonly or with willful negligence, and liability is excluded for injury arising from the inherent risks associated with an active farming operation.  In many of the states that have agritourism statutes, the posting of specific signage is required to get the liability protection and, of course, the person claiming the protection of the statute must meet the definition of a covered person and the activity that gave rise to the liability claim must be a statutorily covered activity.  Further, in some states (such as Iowa), liability release forms, at least with respect to minors, may be deemed to violate “public policy” (as decided by judges rather than the public). 

Exclusions.  Some activities may be excluded from the definition of “agritourism” under a state’s statute. Common activities that might be excluded are roadside fruit and vegetable stands; operations that are solely for the purpose of selling or merchandising food; marijuana-related activities (even if permissible under state law); rodeos; sky and water diving; paintball; various types of bicycling; activities in structures primarily intended for use by the general public; and various types of animal therapy activities.  Again, the point is that each state statute is unique to that particular state and before starting an agritourism activity, the landowner/operator must be familiar with the applicable rules.

Compensation.  There are also differences among state agritourism statutes as to whether charging participants a fee changes the landowner/operator’s duty of care.  In most of the states with an agritourism statute, the liability protection of the statute applies if the landowner charges a fee.  That is the case in AR, CO, DE, FL, KS, KY, ME, MN, MO, NC, ND, OK, OR, SD, TN, TX, VA and WI.  But, in Alaska, no heightened liability protection is provided by the agritourism statute if a fee must be paid to access the land at issue to engage in an agritourism activity.  Alaska Stat. §09.65.202(c)(1). 

Other states with an agritourism statute do not mention the issue of compensation and whether charging a fee changes the liability protection of the statute. 

Financial incentives.  Some state laws related to agritourism relate to financial incentives via tax credits or cost-sharing, promotion, exemption from permits, protecting the ag real property tax classification of the property involved or providing special classification for structures used for agritourism activities. See, e.g., Md. Code Pub. Safety §12-508 (exempting buildings used for agritourism from performance standards and building permit requirements); Neb. Rev. Stat. §75-303(3)(exempting motor carriers from certain requirements if engaged in transportation related to agritourism); S.C. Code Ann. §6-9-67 (classifying certain structures without a commercial kitchen used in agritourism activity as ag and removes sprinkler system requirement). 

Some states address agritourism activities either via laws governing agriculture in general or via land-use/zoning laws.  This is particular true for activities that are “events.”  For example, Pennsylvania law doesn’t provide any liability protection for injuries occurring during weddings or concerts on the premises.  3 Pa. Stat. §§2603(c)(2)-(3) et seq. 

On the tax classification issue, Ohio law includes agritourism in the definition of “land exclusively used devoted to agriculture” for tax assessment purposes.  Ohio Rev. Code. §5713.30(A)(4).  Thus, the definition of “agritourism” is critical in receiving ag classification.  On that issue, the Ohio Supreme Court, in Columbia Township Board of Zoning v. Otis, 663 N.E.2d 377, 104 Ohio App. 3d 756 (Ohio 1995), held that haunted hay rides on farm property did not constitute the use of land for agricultural purposes because the addition of a Halloween theme with shrieks and flashing lights was completely inconsistent with traditional agricultural activity.  Similarly, in Shore v. Maple Lane Farms, LLC, 411 S.W.3d 405 (Tenn. Sup. Ct. 2013), the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed a determination by the court of appeals that music concerts on a farm were within the definition of farm activities within the scope of the agritourism statute and were exempt from a county zoning provision.  The Tennessee Supreme Court said the activity was not “agriculture” as defined by the statute.  Likewise, in Forster v. Town of Henniker, 167 N.H. 745 (2015)the court held that the use of a Christmas tree farm for weddings did not meet the definition of agritourism and, as a result, was not “agriculture” for zoning purposes. 

Note:  On the tax classification/zoning issue, a state agritourism statute may define an agritourism activity involving an event (such as a wedding, concert or festival, etc.) by reference to local zoning rules and ordinances.  Such local rules and ordinances may set size limitations, require certain permits, set operational standards and address issues involving sound and light, and restrict the number of guests/participants based on local conditions. 

Insurance.  Any landowner conducting an agritourism activity on their property should make sure insurance coverage is adequate.  It is not likely that a comprehensive farm/ranch liability policy will cover any claims arising from the activity.  That’s because an agritourism activity will likely be classified as a non-farm business pursuit of the insured that is excluded from policy coverage.  Thus, a separate rider (or policy) may be necessary to provide adequate insurance coverage.

Conclusion

Agritourism activities on a farm or ranch or other rural land can provide an additional income stream for the landowner.  For farmers and ranchers, that may be particularly important if current ag markets in Russia, China or Ukraine become lost in the long-term. 

March 18, 2022 in Civil Liabilities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

“Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2021 – Numbers 8 and 7

Overview

As I pointed out in Sunday’s article, agricultural law and agricultural tax law intersect with everyday life of farmers and ranchers in many ways.  Some of those areas of intersection are good, but some are quite troubling.  In any event, it points to the need for being educated and having good legal and tax counsel that is well-trained in the special rules that apply to agriculture.

This is the second installment in my list of the “Top Ten” agricultural law and tax developments of 2021.  The list is comprised of what are, in my view, the most important developments in agricultural law (which includes taxation that impacts farmers and ranchers) to the sector as a whole.  The developments primarily are focused on the impact to production agriculture, but the issues involved will also have effects that spillover to rural landowners and agribusinesses as well as consumers of agricultural products.

The Eighth and Seventh most important agricultural law and tax developments of 2021 – it’s the topic of today’s post.

8.  Ag Nuisance Litigation in North Carolina.  In recent years, North Carolina has been the focus of much ag nuisance litigation, particularly targeted at large-scale hog confinement operations.  Legal developments flowing from the various cases has influenced the North Carolina legislature as well as legislatures in other states (such as Florida and Indiana) to modify their Right-To-Farm (RTF) laws in an attempt to provide greater legal protection to agricultural operations.  In 2021, there were further developments in North Carolina involving nuisance and that state’s RTF law.

The North Carolina RTF law was originally enacted in 1979 with the state policy goal to: "[R]educe the loss to the State of its agricultural and forestry resources by limiting the circumstances under which an agricultural or forestry operation may be deemed a nuisance." After many nuisance suits were filed against confinement hog operations, the legislature amended the RTF in 2013. The amendment specified that an ag operation that has been in business for at least a year and has not fundamentally changed is protected from a nuisance action as a result of changed conditions surrounding it if the ag operation was not a nuisance at the time it began. The plaintiffs refiled their suits in 2014 in federal district court based on the amended law. The federal court held that the RTF law did not apply to shield hog producers and five juries rendered verdicts for the plaintiffs. The legislature again amended the RTF law in 2017 and 2018 to expand its protection for agricultural operations.

There were two additional court opinions in 2021 involving the North Carolina RTF law.  In Barden v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, No. 7:20-CV-85-BR, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47809 (E.D. N.C. Mar. 15, 2021), the plaintiff sued the defendant in 2020 for trespass, negligence, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment arising from odor, dust, feces, urine and flies from a neighboring hog facility that housed 20,000-head of the defendant’s hogs. The plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages. The defendant sought to dismiss the complaint for failure to join to the lawsuit the farmer that operated the hog facility via a contact with the defendant as an indispensable party. The court disagreed, as the farmer’s conduct was likely irrelevant to the outcome of the litigation and any impact that an adverse judgment against the defendant might have on the farmer’s interests at the farm was speculative. The defendant also sought dismissal on the basis that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a claim for relief that was other than speculative. The defendant cited the North Carolina RTF law as barring all of the plaintiff’s claims.

The federal trial court disagreed with the defendant, noting that conditions constituting a nuisance can also constitute a trespass (and other causes of action). Thus, the plaintiff’s complaint was not restricted to allegations of a nuisance cause of action which the RTF law would bar. The court noted that the RTF law was different from other state RTF laws that covered non-nuisance tort claims related to farming operations along with nuisance claims. The RTF law only covered nuisance-related claims and had no application to non-nuisance claims. As to whether the plaintiff adequately alleged the non-nuisance claims, the court concluded that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged, at a minimum, a claim for unintentional trespass by not consenting to dust, urine and fecal matter from entering its property. On the plaintiff’s negligence claim, the court determined that it was reasonably foreseeable that if the defendant did not act reasonably in managing the facility that dust and animal waste would be present on the plaintiff’s property. As such, the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty and there was a causal link with any potential breach of that duty. Thus, the plaintiff properly stated a claim for negligence. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant conspired with its corporate parent to mislead the public about the science of hog manure removal and various constitutional violations. The court rejected this claim because any conspiracy was between the defendant and its corporate parent and not with any independent party. The plaintiff also claimed that the defendant unjustly enriched itself by using the plaintiff’s property for a de facto easement without paying for it. The court rejected the claim because the plaintiff had conferred no benefit on the plaintiff which gave rise to any legal or equitable obligation on the defendant’s part to account for the benefit received. However, the court refused to strike the plaintiff’s allegations relating to the defendant’s Chinese ownership, influence and exploitation as well as the defendant’s financial resources. The court determined that such allegations had a bearing on the defendant’s motivation, extent of harm and ability to implement alternative technology. 

A second court opinion involving the North Carolina RTF law was issued in late 2021.  In Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help v. State, No. COA21-175, 2021 N.C. App. LEXIS 733 (N.C. Ct. App. Dec. 21, 2021), the plaintiffs filed suit in 2019 challenging the constitutionality of the RTF law. The plaintiffs sued in 2019 challenging the constitutionality of the RTF law on its face because they claimed the law exceeded the scope of the state’s police power. The defendants moved to dismiss the case and the trial court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and denied the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed. The state appellate court agreed with the trial court that limiting the potential nuisance liability from ag, forestry, and related operations furthered the state’s goal of protecting ag activities and encouraging the availability and continued production of agricultural products. The appellate court also determined that the RTF law amendments were a valid exercise of legislative and state police powers and did not violate the state Constitution’s Law of the Land Clause or the Due Process Clause. The appellate court also determined that the amendments were not a special or private law, and didn’t deprive any prospective plaintiff of the right to a jury trial. 

Note:   It is anticipated that the state appellate court opinion, if upheld on any appeal, will provide further guidance to other states and RTF laws. 

7.  Federal Court Determines Whether Withheld Taxes and Other Pre-Paid Taxes Can Be Deprioritized in Chapter 12 Bankruptcy. As originally enacted, Chapter 12 did not create a separate tax entity for Chapter 12 bankruptcy estates for purposes of federal income taxation.  That shortcoming precludes debtor avoidance of potential income tax liability on disposition of assets as may be possible for individuals who file Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcy.  But, an amendment to Chapter 12 in 2005 made an important change.  As modified, tax debt associated with the sale of an asset used in farming can be treated as unsecured debt that is not entitled to priority and ultimately discharged.  Without this modification, a farmer faced with selling assets to satisfy creditors could trigger substantial tax liability that would impair the chance to reorganize the farming business under Chapter 12.  Such a farmer could be forced into liquidation.

A question that was addressed by a federal trial court in Indiana in 2021 was how taxes that the debtor had already paid are to be treated.  Can previously paid or withheld taxes be pulled back into the bankruptcy estate where they are “stripped” of their priority (i.e., deprioritized)?  That is a very significant question for a Chapter 12 farm debtor that also has off-farm income of a spouse that helps support the farming operation.

In United States v. Richards, No. 1:20-cv-02703-SEB-MG, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS (S.D. Ind. Sept. 30, 2021), the debtors, a married farm couple, filed Chapter 12 bankruptcy in 2018 after suffering losses from negative weather events and commodity market price declines during 2013 through 2015. The primary lender refused to renew the loan which forced liquidation of the farm’s assets in the spring of 2016. During 2016, the debtors sold substantially all of the farm equipment, vehicles and other personal property assets as well as grain inventory. The proceeds were paid to the primary lender as well as other lenders with purchase money security interests in relevant assets. After filing Chapter 12, the debtors sold additional farmland. The asset sales triggered substantial income tax obligations for 2016, 2017 and 2018 tax years. The debtors Chapter 12 plan made no mention concerning whether off-farm earnings, tax withholdings or payments the debtors voluntarily made to the IRS, or a claim or refund would remain property of the bankruptcy estate after Plan confirmation. The plan did, however, divide the debtors federal tax obligations into 1) tax liabilities for income arising from the sale, transfer, exchange or other disposition of any property used in the debtors’ farming operation “Section 1232 Income”; and 2) tax liabilities arising from other income sources – “Traditional income.” Tax liabilities associated with Traditional Income would retain priority status, but taxes associated with Section 1232 Income would be de-prioritized (regardless of when the liability was incurred) and treated as general unsecured claims that would be discharged upon Plan completion if not paid in full. Under the reorganization Plan, the debtors would pay directly the tax liability associated with Traditional Income incurred after the Chapter 12 filing date. Under the Plan, unsecured claims would be paid on a “pro rata” basis using the “marginal method” along with other general unsecured claims. The Section 1232 taxes would be computed by excluding the taxable income from the disposition of assets used in farming from the tax return utilizing a pro forma tax return. The Plan was silent concerning how the Debtors’ withholding payments and credits for each tax year were to be applied or allocated between any particular tax year’s income tax return and the corresponding pro forma return.

The IRS filed a proof of claim for the 2016 and 2017 tax years in the amount of $288,675.43. The debtors objected to the IRS’s claim, but did seek to reclassify $5,681 of the IRS claim as general unsecured priority status. The IRS failed to respond, and the bankruptcy court granted the debtors approximately $280,000 in tax relief for 2016 and 2017. The debtors then submitted their 2018 federal and state returns showing a tax liability of $58,380 and their pro forma return for 2018 excluding the income from the sale of farm assets which showed a tax liability of $3,399. The debtors, due to withholding and estimated tax, inadvertently paid $9,813 to the IRS during 2018. They claimed $6,414 was an overpayment and listed that amount on the Pro Forma return as a refund. The IRS amended its proof of claim and asserted a general unsecured claim of $42,200 for the 2018 tax year (excluding penalties and interest). The IRS claimed that none of the debtors’ tax liability qualified for non-priority treatment under 11 U.S.C. §1232, and that it had a general unsecured claim for $42, 220 for the 2018 tax year. To reach that amount, the IRS allocated tax withholdings and credits of $9,813 to the assessed tax due on the debtors’ pro forma return which reduced that amount to zero, and then allocated the remaining $6,414 of withholdings, payments and credits to the outstanding tax liability of $48,634. IRS later added $6,347 of net investment income tax that the debtors had reported on their return but IRS had excluded due to a processing error. The debtors objected to the IRS’s claim and asserted it should not be increased by either the $6,414 overpayment or the $6,347 of net investment income tax. The debtors sought to adjust the IRS claim to $54,981 and have the court issue a refund to them of $6,414 or reduce distributions to the IRS until the refund obligation had been satisfied. The IRS objected on the basis that the court lacked jurisdiction to compel the issuance of a refund or credit of an overpayment, and that the debtors were not entitled to the refund or credit of the overpayment shown on the pro forma return as a matter of law.

The bankruptcy court sustained the debtors’ objection to the extent the 2018 refund was applied to the IRS’s claim in a manner other than provided for under the confirmed plan. Specifically, the bankruptcy court held that the IRS had exercised a setoff that was not permitted under 11 U.S.C. §553 which violated the plan’s bar against any creditor taking any action “to collect on any claim, whether by offset or otherwise, unless specifically authorized by this Plan.” But, the bankruptcy court held that it lacked jurisdiction to compel the issuance of a refund or credit of an overpayment and that the debtors were not entitled to the refund or credit of overpayment as a matter of law. This was because, the court determined, the refund was not “property of the estate” under 11 U.S.C. § §542 and 541(a). Later, the bankruptcy court held that the overpayment reflected on the pro forma return was “property of the estate” and withdrew its prior analysis of 11 U.S.C. §§542 and 505(a)(2)(B). Thus, the bankruptcy court allowed the IRS’s 2018 general unsecured tax claim in the amount of $54,981 and ordered the Trustee to pay distributions to the debtors until the overpayments had been paid to the debtors.

The IRS appealed, claiming that the bankruptcy court erred in allowing the IRS’s proof of claim in the amount of $54,981 rather than $48,567, and ordering the IRS to issue the debtors a refund or credit of any overpayment in the amount of $6,414. Specifically, the IRS asserted that 11 U.S.C. §1232 did not provide the debtors any right to an “overpayment” or “refund” because it only applies to “claims” - tax liability after crediting payments and withholdings. The IRS based its position on Iowa Department of Revenue v. DeVries, 621 B.R. 445 (8th Cir. B.A.P. 2020). However, the trial court noted distinctions with the facts of DeVries. Here, the sale of property at issue occurred post-petition and involved a claim objection after the Plan had already been confirmed. The appellate court noted that the IRS did not object to the terms of the Plan, and under 11. U.S.C. §1232 the debtors can deprioritize all post-petition Sec. 1232 liabilities, not just a portion. The application of the marginal method resulted in a tax liability of $54,981 to be paid in accordance with 11 U.S.C. §1232. The non-§1232 tax liability was $3,399. The debtors inadvertently paid $9,813 to the IRS and were entitled to a refund of $6,414, and the IRS could not apply that amount against the Sec. 1232 liabilities in calculating its proof of claim. The refund amount was “property of the estate” under 11 U.S.C. §1207(a)(2).

Note:   On November 30, 2021, an appeal was docketed with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Devries and Richards are important cases for practitioners helping farmers in financial distress.  11 U.S.C. §1232 is a powerful tool that can assist making a farm reorganization more feasible.  The Indiana case is a bit strange.  In that case, the debtors were also due a refund for 2016.  A pro-forma return for that year showed a refund of $1,300.  Thus, the issue of a refund being due for pre-petition taxes could have been asserted just as it was in the Iowa case.  Another oddity about the Indiana case is that the 2018 pro-forma (and regular) return was submitted to the IRS in March of 2019.  Under 11 U.S.C. §1232, the “governmental body” has 180 days to file its proof of claim after the pro forma tax return was filed.  The IRS timely filed its proof of claim and later filed an amended proof of claim which was identical to the original proof of claim.  The IRS filed an untimely proof of claim in one of the other jointly administered cases.

Procedurally, in the Indiana case, a Notice regarding the use of 11 U.S.C. §1232 should have been filed with the court to clarify the dates of Notice to the IRS (and other governmental bodies) of the amount of the priority non-dischargeable taxes and 11 U.S.C. §1232 taxes to be discharged under the plan.  That is when the issue of the refund would have been raised with the IRS.  However, there was no Notice of the filing of the pro-forma return with the court.  It will be interesting to see how the U.S. Court of Appeals handles the Indiana case on appeal.

Note:   Going forward, Chapter 12 reorganization plans should provide that if a pro-forma return shows that the debtor is owed a refund the governmental bodies will pay it.  

Conclusion

The next article will detail the Sixth and Fifth most important ag law and tax developments of 2021.  Stay tuned. 

January 4, 2022 in Bankruptcy, Civil Liabilities, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Statutory Immunity From Liability Associated With Horse-Related Activities

Overview

In recent years, almost every state has enacted an Equine Activity Liability Act or a comparable provision designed to encourage the continued existence of equine-related activities, facilities and programs, and provide the equine industry limited protection against lawsuits. The laws generally require special language in written contracts and liability releases or waivers, require the posting of warning signs and attempt to educate the public about inherent risks in horse-related activities and immunities designed to limit liability. 

State laws providing potential legal protection from injuries associated with horse-related activities – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Statutory Components

Under the typical statute, an “equine activity sponsor,” “equine professional,” or other person can only be sued in tort for damages related to the provision of faulty tack, failure to determine the plaintiff’s ability to safely manage a horse, or failure to post warning signs concerning dangerous latent conditions.  Recovery for damages resulting from inherent risks associated with horses is barred, and some state statutes require the plaintiff to establish that the defendant’s conduct constituted “gross negligence,” “willful and wanton misconduct,” or “intentional wrongdoing.”

Kansas Provision

Kansas law provides liability protection for equine professionals and equine activity sponsors under the state’s “domesticated animal activity” act.  K.S.A. §§60-4001 – 60-4003.  Under the law, such professionals and sponsors are not liable for injuries incurred by a participant in a domesticated animal activity resulting from inherent risks unless the participant was provided with faulty equipment or tack, and the equipment or tack was what caused the participant’s injury.  Also, liability can apply if a horse was provided without reasonable efforts made to determine the participant’s ability to manage the horse based on what the participant disclosed concerning the ability to engage in the equine activity at issue.  K.S.A. §§60-4003(a)(1)(A)-(B).  The equine professional or equine activity sponsor can also lose liability protection by not disclosing dangers a participant is not likely to discover; fails to act reasonably; or willfully, wantonly or intentionally disregards the participant’s safety.  K.S.A. §§60-4003(2)-(4). 

Kansas law also requires the posting of warning signs in conspicuous places where equine activities are conducted.  The sign lettering is to be in black with each letter having a minimum of one inch in height.  State law prescribes the language for the signage that warns the participant in a domestic animal activity that the participant is assuming the inherent risks of the activity. 

Illustrative Cases

Iowa.  The various state statutes are all unique and fact issues abound.  That means that cases involving a state’s law often end up before juries to decide those fact issues.  One interpretation of the Iowa statute resulted in the term “person” in the Iowa Domesticated Animal Activities Act being construed to include an employer in an agricultural employment setting involving livestock.  Baker v. Shields, 767 N.W.2d 404 (Iowa 2009). 

Wyoming and Texas.  Another common issue involves determining what an inherent risk of horseback riding amounts to.  In Wyoming, that is a fact issue because the statute doesn’t provide any precise definition as examples of inherent risks from riding horses.  Under the Texas statute, the phrase “inherent risk of equine activity” refers to risks associated with the activity rather than simply those risks associated with innate animal behavior.  Loftin v. Lee, 341 S.W.3d 352 (Tex. 2011).  

Ohio.  The Ohio equine activities immunity statute has been held to bar recovery for an injury incurred by an employee of a stable when the employee assisted a customer in the unloading of a horse from a trailer during a day off, because the person deliberately exposed themselves to an inherent risk associated with horses and viewed the activity as a spectator.  But this trial court decision was reversed on appeal with the court determining that the assisting of the customer did not amount to engaging in an equine activity as a participant.  That meant that the customer was not entitled to immunity.   On further review, the State Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the employee was an equine activity participant.  Smith v. Landfair, 135 Ohio St. 3d 89 (Ohio 2012). However, the State Supreme Court remanded the case for clarification of the application of the statute given the State Supreme Court’s ruling.  On remand, the appellate court held that the customer was an equine activity participant that was entitled to immunity because the legislature didn’t intend for an equine activity participant to suddenly become liable when a horse acts in an unpredictable manner during a brief instance of loss of control.  Smith v. Landfair, 2014 Ohio 3314 (Ohio Ct. App. 2014). 

Florida.  In Germer v. Churchill Downs Management, 201 So. 3d 721 (Fla. Ct. App. 2016), the plaintiff, a former jockey, visited a horse racecourse that the defendant managed. The decision was a spur-of-the-moment decision made along with the plaintiff’s roommate who was a current jockey and had a horse stabled there. As a former jockey, the plaintiff was required to get a guest pass to enter the stables. While walking through the barn to see the roommate’s horse, another horse jumped out of its stall and bit the plaintiff’s chest. The plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence. The defendant asserted immunity based on the state (FL) Equine Activities Liability Act (EALA) on the basis that the plaintiff was a “participant engaged in an equine activity” that was precluded from recovering damages. The EALA immunizes an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person or entity from liability to a “participant” from the inherent risks of equine activities. A “participant” need not pay a fee, and engaging in an equine activity includes “visiting or touring…an equine facility as part of an organized event or activity.” The plaintiff claimed that the decision to visit the stables was simply a spur-of-the-moment decision that did not constitute an organized event or activity.  The court disagreed. The court focused on the requirement that the plaintiff obtain a guest pass before entering the horse barn. That was sufficient enough of a protocol to amount to “organization” which made the plaintiff’s visit to the stables “an organized activity” under the EALA.

Missouri.  In Rosales v. Benjamin Equestrian Center, LLC, 597 S.W.3d 669 (Mo. Ct. App. 2019), the plaintiff attended a horse racing event at the defendant’s racetrack.  She had never been to a horserace before and wasn’t experienced with horses.  Upon arriving at the track, she entered the area where the horses were being unloaded.  The gate she entered was an unmonitored open gate, and the track was in a large field or open area.  The plaintiff was seated a short distance from where the horses were unloaded, and a horse handler asked her to move while a horse was being unloaded.  The horse was unloaded and was being brushed when it reared up and fell on the plaintiff, fracturing her pelvis.  She sued on a negligence theory and the trial court jury found in her favor for $350,000.  That award was reduced by the comparative fault of the parties to $280,000.  On appeal, the appellate court held that the Missouri Equine Activities Liability Act (Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.325.4) did not immunize the defendant because it negligently permitted people to access and remain in the horse unloading area, near an inherent risk that, as a result, enhanced that inherent risk.  While the defendant complied with the statutory signage requirement, the appellate court held that was not required as a condition of asserting immunity. 

Conclusion

If you have horses, engage is horse-related activities, or attend horse events for pleasure, you might want to become familiar with the governing state statute that provides potential immunity for such activities. 

December 12, 2021 in Civil Liabilities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Mailboxes and Farm Equipment

Overview

Farmers use the public roadways to move farm machinery and equipment.  Sometimes, mailboxes present issues.  What are the rules for placement of mailboxes along rural roads?  What if a mailbox is hit?  The resolution of the matter will be fact based.  Was the mailbox intentionally damaged or destroyed?  Was the mailbox located in the proper place?  Was the mailbox at the proper height and of the correct size?  Was the farm machinery and equipment operating on the public roadway within applicable size and weight limitations?  These are all relevant questions.

Moving farm machinery and equipment along a public roadway and the potential hazard presented by mailboxes- it’s the topic of today’s post.

Postal Service Rules

If a mailbox is struck with farm equipment, one issue to check is whether the mailbox was in the proper location and was of the proper height and size.  The United States Postal Service (USPS) has rules for the placement of mailboxes.  But, the matter is also a mixture of state law.  Generally, a mailbox must be 41-45 inches above the road surface and 6-8 inches from the edge of the road. See, e.g., Mailbox Installation, USPS.COM; Section 632, USPS Postal Operations Manual.  The meaning of “edge of the road” depends on state law – “shoulder” is defined differently from state-to-state.  For rural postal routes, all mailboxes are to be on the right side of the road in the carrier’s direction of travel and be placed in conformity with state laws and highway regulations.  If state law is more restrictive than the USPS Operations Manual, state law controls.    

The posts for a mailbox are to be made from wood no larger than 4” x 4,” but can also be made out of steel or aluminum no larger than 2” in diameter.  However, the posts should be designed to easily bend or fall away in the event of a collision.  USPS Operations Manual.  The mailbox cannot be constructed in a manner that it is a fixed object that won’t break away when it is struck. 

The USPS also has specific mailbox size limitations.  All dimensions and designs must be in accordance with USPS rules before a mailbox can be sold to the public at retail.  For those that wish to build their own, the mailbox must be approved by the local postmaster.  This can be a key point when it comes to large farm equipment utilizing rural roads. 

A mailbox that is not in compliance with USPS rules could be creating a “traffic” hazard.  The hazard issue not only involves size and height restrictions but can also instruct the issue of where a mailbox is placed.  Each state has its own set of regulations on this issue.  In some states, a mailbox cannot be placed within a certain distance of an intersection.  The distance requirement might expand if the daily traffic is of a particular volume.

If farm equipment accidentally strikes a mailbox that is out of compliance with either federal or state requirements, that fact could absolve the farmer from responsibility for replacing the mailbox.

Roadway Size and Weight Limitations

On the other side of the coin, each state also has regulations governing the weight and size of farm equipment that can travel public roads. A farmer utilizing the public roadways with equipment and machinery exceeding applicable size and/or weight limitations that strikes a mailbox has little defense.  The size and weight limitations have come into greater relevance in recent years as farm machinery and equipment have enlarged (in size and weight) along with the size of farming operations.  Public roads have not correspondingly widened.  Weight limitations are often tied to the number of axles and the distance between the axles.  See, e.g., Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1908.  Vehicles exceeding the limitations are not to be driven on public roads.  But, in states where the agricultural industry predominates, agricultural equipment and machinery is often exempted.  See., e.g., Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1908.  Civil damages to the road are possible for violations.  See, e.g., Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1913.      

As for size limitations, the maximum width permitted is generally eight and one-half feet under federal law.  But, that limit is inapplicable to “special mobile equipment” including farm equipment or instruments of husbandry.  See Federal Size Regulations for Commercial Motor Vehicles, U.S. Department of Transportation:  Federal Highway Administration (Oct. 9, 2019); Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1902(b).  However, a state may require a permit for “over-width” farm equipment to be operated on a public roadway in the state, and may adopt additional requirements for width and height than the federal rules.  Common rules apply to the transporting of hay loads and combine headers.  See, e.g., Kan. Stat. Ann. §§8-1902(d)(2)-(3); 8-1902(e).

Sometimes, existing size and weight limitations are lifted for farm equipment (including farm trucks) during planting and harvesting seasons, and other unique exemptions might apply in certain situations.  It’s important to pay attention to a particular state’s rules as well as administrative notices concerning any modification (whether permanent or temporary) to existing rules.

If the operator of farm equipment on a public road is not in compliance with those regulations and strikes a non-compliant mailbox, sorting out the legal liability gets murkier.    

Colliding With A Mailbox

A mailbox is federal property.  Under federal law, it is unlawful to intentionally destroy a mailbox.  Doing so could result in a substantial fine and/or imprisonment of up to three years.  18 U.S.C. §1705.  Unintentional damage or destruction to a mailbox will typically require the notification of the property owner and the local police.  In addition, local regulations may impose other requirements. 

But, for those operating farm equipment and machinery on public roads within the applicable rules that happen to strike a mailbox, being required to pay for the damage caused is probably the worst that will happen.

Conclusion

Farmers often must use the public roads to move farm equipment from field-to-field, to get harvested crops to a local elevator, or for other reasons.  The increased size of farm equipment and natural limitations to the width of roads (particularly in the eastern third of the U.S.) present challenges to avoiding mailboxes.  It’s good to know the rules that can apply in such situations. 

July 11, 2021 in Civil Liabilities, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

Overview
 
Starting Monday May 3, I am hosting a daily 2-minute program, The Agricultural Law and Tax Report on farm radio stations nationwide and on SiriusXM 147.  The purpose of each report is to educate farmers and ranchers and rural landowners on the unique legal and tax issues that they are often faced with.  Each program explains what the law is on a particular topic, and how actual court cases and IRS rulings have been decided based on that law, and what the application is to a farming or ranching operation.
 
Topical Coverage
 
Some of the topics that I will address include:
 
Contract Issues - (auction sales; farm leases; hunting leases; grain and livestock sale contracts; types of clauses to protect the farmer-seller; remedies if there is a breach).
 
Ag Financing Issues - (collateral issues; rules governing lenders and farm borrowers; foreclosure issues and Farmers’ Home (FSA); redemption rights for farmland; agricultural liens).
 
Agricultural Bankruptcy - (Chapter 12 farm bankruptcy issues).
 
Farm Income Tax - (handling USDA/CCC loans; government payments; crop insurance proceeds; pre-paying expenses; deferred payment contracts; commodity trading income; easement payments; crop and livestock share rental income).
 
Real Property Issues - (fences and boundaries; buying and selling farmland; recoveries from settlements and court judgments (such as the Roundup litigation, etc.)).
 
Farm Estate Planning - (types of title ownership; disruption of family farm if there is no will or trust; planning approaches to facilitate keeping the farm in the family; federal estate tax planning; gifting of farm assets; treating off-farm and on-farm heirs fairly).
 
Liability Issues - (food product liability issues (labeling and disparagement laws); liability for trespassers and others on the property; trespassing dog laws; nuisance law; employer's responsibility for farm employees; animal diseases; fence laws).
 
Criminal Law Issues - (what can the government search without a warrant; cruelty to animal laws; government programs and criminal liability; environmental liability for farmers and ranchers).
 
Water Law Issues - (types of water law systems; use of surface water for crops and livestock; use of subsurface water; boundary disputes).
 
The initial sponsor is First State Bank headquartered in Lincoln, NE.  If you are interested in also becoming a sponsor, please let me know.
 
Many thanks to John Mellencamp and Sony Music Publishing Co. for the "bumper" music that accompanies each show. And...special thanks to Donn Teske.
 
Check with your local farm radio station to see if they are carrying The Agricultural Law and Tax Report. If not, please call your local station and request it, and let me know
 
My hope is that you find the show profitable for your farming business, rural practice, and your local rural community.

May 1, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 19, 2021

Ag Law and Taxation - 2016 Bibliography

Overview

Today's post is a bibliography of my ag law and tax blog articles of 2016.  Earlier this year I have provided bibliographies for you of my blog articles for 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017.  This now completes the bibliographies since I began the blog in July of 2016.  At the end of 2021, I will post a lengthy blog article of all of the articles published through that timeframe. 

The 2016 bibliography of articles – it’s the subject matter of today’s post.

BUSINESS PLANNING

Treasury Attacks Estate and Entity Planning Techniques With Proposed Valuation Regulations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/treasury-attacks-estate-and-entity-planning-techniques-with-proposed-valuation-regulations.html

Using an LLC to Reduce S.E Tax and the NIIT

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/using-an-llc-to-reduce-se-tax-and-the-niit.html

IRS Audit Issue – S Corporation Reasonable Compensation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/irs-audit-issue-s-corporation-reasonable-compensation.html

Rents Are Passive, But They Can Be Recharacterized - And Grouped (Sometimes)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/rents-are-passive-but-they-can-be-recharacterized-and-grouped-sometimes.html

Tribute To Orville Bloethe

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/tribute-to-orville-bloethe.html

CIVIL LIABILITIES

Registration of a Pesticide Doesn't Mean It Might Not Be Misbranded

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/07/registration-of-a-pesticide-doesnt-mean-it-might-not-be-misbranded-.html

Death of Livestock In Blizzard Was a Covered Loss by “Drowning”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/death-of-livestock-in-blizzard-was-a-covered-loss-by-drowning.html

FIFRA Pre-Emption of Pesticide Damage Claims

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/fifra-pre-emption-of-pesticide-damage-claims.html

Agritourism Acts, Zoning Issues and Landowner Liability

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/agritourism-acts-zoning-issues-and-landowner-liability.html

The “Agriculture” Exemption From The Requirement To Pay Overtime Wages

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/the-agriculture-exemption-from-the-requirement-to-pay-overtime-wages.html

The Scope and Effect of Equine Liability Acts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/the-scope-and-effect-of-equine-liability-acts.html

What’s a Rural Landowner’s Responsibility Concerning Crops, Trees and Vegetation Near an Intersection?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/whats-a-rural-landowners-responsibility-concerning-crops-trees-and-vegetation-near-an-intersection.html

CONTRACTS

Some Thoughts on Production Contracts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/some-thoughts-on-production-contracts.html

CRIMINAL LIABILITIES

Prison Sentences Upheld For Egg Company Executives Even Though Government Conceded They Had No Knowledge of Salmonella Contamination.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/07/prison-sentences-upheld-for-egg-company-executives-even-though-government-conceded-they-had-no-knowledge-of-salmonella-contam.html

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Registration of a Pesticide Doesn't Mean It Might Not Be Misbranded

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/07/registration-of-a-pesticide-doesnt-mean-it-might-not-be-misbranded-.html

FIFRA Pre-Emption of Pesticide Damage Claims

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/fifra-pre-emption-of-pesticide-damage-claims.html

Air Emissions, CWA and CERCLA

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/air-emissions-cwa-and-cercla.html

Are Seeds Coated With Insecticides Exempt From FIFRA Regulation?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/are-seeds-coated-with-insecticides-exempt-from-fifra-regulation.html

ESTATE PLANNING

The Situs of a Trust Can Make a Tax Difference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/07/the-situs-of-a-trust-can-make-a-tax-difference.html

Treasury Attacks Estate and Entity Planning Techniques With Proposed Valuation Regulations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/treasury-attacks-estate-and-entity-planning-techniques-with-proposed-valuation-regulations.html

Common Estate Planning Mistakes of Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/common-estate-planning-mistakes-of-farmers.html

Staying on the Farm With the Help of In-Home Care

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/staying-on-the-farm-with-the-help-of-in-home-care.html

Including Property in the Gross Estate to Get a Basis Step-Up

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/including-property-in-the-gross-estate-to-get-a-basis-step-up.html

Farm Valuation Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/farm-valuation-issues.html

The Future of the Federal Estate Tax and Implications for Estate Planning

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/the-future-of-the-federal-estate-tax-and-implications-for-estate-planning.html

Tribute To Orville Bloethe

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/tribute-to-orville-bloethe.html

INCOME TAX

House Ways and Means Committee Has A Blueprint For Tax Proposals - Implications For Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/07/house-ways-and-means-committee-has-a-blueprint-for-tax-proposals-implications-for-agriculture.html

In Attempt To Deny Oil and Gas-Related Deductions, IRS Reads Language Into the Code That Isn’t There – Tax Court Not Biting

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/07/in-attempt-to-deny-oil-and-gas-related-deductions-irs-reads-language-into-the-code-that-isnt-there-tax-court-not-biti.html

IRS Does Double-Back Layout on Self-Employment Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/irs-does-double-back-layout-on-self-employment-tax.html

S.E. Tax on Passive Investment Income; Election Out of Subchapter K Doesn’t Change Entity’s Nature; and IRS Can Change Its Mind

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/se-tax-on-passive-investment-income-election-out-of-subchapter-k-doesnt-change-entitys-nature-and-irs-can-change-it.html

Handling Depreciation on Asset Trades

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/handling-depreciation-on-asset-trades.html

Claiming “Bonus” Depreciation on Plants

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/claiming-bonus-depreciation-on-plants.html

Proper Reporting of Crop Insurance Proceeds

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/proper-reporting-of-crop-insurance-proceeds.html

Permanent Conservation Easement Donation Opportunities and Perils

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/permanent-conservation-easement-donation-opportunities-and-perils.html

Sales By Farmers/Rural Landowners Generate Common Questions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/sales-by-farmersrural-landowners-generate-common-questions-.html

Expense Method Depreciation - Great Tax Planning Opportunities On Amended Returns

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/expense-method-depreciation-great-tax-planning-opportunities-on-amended-returns.html

The DPAD and Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/the-dpad-and-agriculture.html

Donating Food Inventory to a Qualified Charity - New Opportunity for Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/donating-food-inventory-to-a-qualified-charity-new-opportunity-for-farmers.html

Farm Valuation Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/farm-valuation-issues.html

Treatment of Farming Casualty and Theft Losses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/treatment-of-farming-casualty-and-theft-losses.html

More on Handling Farm Losses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/more-on-handling-farm-losses.html

Selected Tax Issues For Rural Landowners Associated With Easement Payments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/selected-tax-issues-for-rural-landowners-associated-with-easement-payments.html

Are You A Farmer? It Depends!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/are-you-a-farmer-it-depends.html

Rents Are Passive, But They Can Be Recharacterized - And Grouped (Sometimes)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/rents-are-passive-but-they-can-be-recharacterized-and-grouped-sometimes.html

It’s Fall and Time to “Hoop it Up”!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/its-fall-and-time-to-hoop-it-up.html

Utilizing the Home Sale Exclusion When Selling the Farm

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/utilizing-the-home-sale-exclusion-when-selling-the-farm.html

Farmland Acquisition – Allocation of Value to Depreciable Items

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/farmland-acquisition-allocation-of-value-to-depreciable-items.html

Tribute To Orville Bloethe

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/tribute-to-orville-bloethe.html

IRS Continues (Unsuccessfully) Attack on Cash Accounting By Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/irs-continues-unsuccessfully-attack-on-cash-accounting-by-farmers.html

The Uniform Capitalization Rules and Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/the-uniform-capitalization-rules-and-agriculture.html

The Non-Corporate Lessor Rule – A Potential Trap In Expense Method Depreciation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/the-non-corporate-lessor-rule-a-potential-trap-in-expense-method-depreciation.html

REAL PROPERTY

Texas Mineral Estates, Groundwater Rights, Surface Usage and the “Accommodation Doctrine”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/texas-mineral-estates-groundwater-rights-surface-usage-and-the-accommodation-doctrine.html

So You Want To Buy Farmland? Things to Consider

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/so-you-want-to-buy-farmland-things-to-consider.html

What’s the Character of the Gain From the Sale of Farm or Ranch Land?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/09/whats-the-character-of-the-gain-from-the-sale-of-farm-or-ranch-land.html

Utilizing the Home Sale Exclusion When Selling the Farm

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/12/utilizing-the-home-sale-exclusion-when-selling-the-farm.html

REGULATORY LAW

New Food Safety Rules Soon to Apply to Farmers and Others In the Food Production Chain

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/10/new-food-safety-rules-soon-to-apply-to-farmers-and-others-in-the-food-production-chain.html

New Regulations on Marketing of Livestock and Poultry

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/new-regulations-on-marketing-of-livestock-and-poultry.html

The Future of Ag Policy Under Trump

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/the-future-of-ag-policy-under-trump.html

Verifying Employment – New Form I-9; The Requirements and Potential Problem Areas

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/verifying-employment-new-form-i-9-the-requirements-and-potential-problem-areas.html

SECURED TRANSACTIONS

Feedlot Has Superior Rights to Cattle Sale Proceeds

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/08/feedlot-has-superior-rights-to-cattle-sale-proceeds.html

WATER LAW

Watercourses and Boundary Lines

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2016/11/watercourses-and-boundary-lines.html

April 19, 2021 in Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 2, 2021

Ag Law and Taxation - 2017 Bibliography

Overview

Today's post is a bibliography of my ag law and tax blog articles of 2017.  This will make it easier to find the articles you are looking for in your research.  In late January I posted the 2020 bibliography of articles.  In late February I posted the bibliography of the 2019 articles.  Last month, I posted the 2018 bibliography of articles.  Today’s posting is the bibliography of my 2017 articles.  Later this month I will post the 2016 bibliography. 

The library of content continues to grow with relevant information for you practice or your farming/ranching business.

The 2017 bibliography of articles – it’s the subject matter of today’s post.

BANKRUPTCY

The Most Important Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/the-most-important-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016.html  

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016 (Ten Through Six)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016-ten-through-six.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law Developments of 2016 (Five Through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-developments-of-2016-five-through-one.html

Farm Financial Stress – Debt Restructuring

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/farm-financial-stress-debt-restructuring.html

Qualified Farm Indebtedness – A Special Rule for Income Exclusion of Forgiven Debt

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/qualified-farm-indebtedness-a-special-rule-for-income-exclusion-of-forgiven-debt.html

What Are a Farmer’s Rights When a Grain Elevator Fails?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/what-are-a-farmers-rights-when-a-grain-elevator-fails.html

Agricultural Law in a Nutshell

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/agricultural-law-in-a-nutshell.html

The Business of Agriculture – Upcoming CLE Symposium

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/the-business-of-agriculture-upcoming-cle-symposium.html

Tough Financial Times in Agriculture and Lending Clauses – Peril for the Unwary

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/tough-financial-times-in-agriculture-and-lending-clauses-peril-for-the-unwary.html

What Interest Rate Applies to a Secured Creditor’s Claim in a Reorganization Bankruptcy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/what-interest-rate-applies-to-a-secured-creditors-claim-in-a-reorganization-bankruptcy.html

PACA Trust Does Not Prevent Chapter 11 DIP’s Use of Cash Collateral

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/paca-trust-does-not-prevent-chapter-11-dips-use-of-cash-collateral.html

Are Taxes Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/are-taxes-dischargeable-in-bankruptcy.html

Christmas Shopping Season Curtailed? – Bankruptcy Venue Shopping, That Is!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/christmas-shopping-season-curtailed-bankruptcy-venue-shopping-that-is.html

BUSINESS PLANNING

The Most Important Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/the-most-important-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016 (Ten Through Six)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016-ten-through-six.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law Developments of 2016 (Five Through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-developments-of-2016-five-through-one.html

C Corporation Penalty Taxes – Time to Dust-Off and Review?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/c-corporation-penalty-taxes-time-to-dust-off-and-review.html

Divisive Reorganizations of Farming and Ranching Corporations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/divisive-reorganizations-of-farming-and-ranching-corporations.html

The Scope and Effect of the “Small Partnership Exception”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/the-scope-and-effect-of-the-small-partnership-exception.html

Using the Right Kind of an Entity to Reduce Self-Employment Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/using-the-right-kind-of-an-entity-to-reduce-self-employment-tax.html

Employer-Provided Meals and Lodging

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/employer-provided-meals-and-lodging.html

Self-Employment Tax on Farming Activity of Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/self-employment-tax-on-farming-activity-of-trusts.html

Minority Shareholder Oppression Case Raises Several Tax Questions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/minority-shareholder-oppression-case-raises-several-tax-questions.html

Farm Program Payment Limitations and Entity Planning – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/farm-program-payment-limitations-and-entity-planning-part-one.html

Farm Program Payment Limitations and Entity Planning – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/farm-program-payment-limitations-and-entity-planning-part-two.html

Summer Ag Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/summer-ag-taxestate-and-business-planning-conference.html

An Installment Sale as Part of an Estate Plan

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/an-installment-sale-as-part-of-an-estate-plan.html

The Use of a Buy-Sell Agreement for Transitioning a Business

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/the-use-of-a-buy-sell-agreement-for-transitioning-a-business.html

The Business of Agriculture – Upcoming CLE Symposium

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/the-business-of-agriculture-upcoming-cle-symposium.html

Forming a Farming/Ranching Corporation Tax-Free

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/forming-a-farmingranching-corporation-tax-free.html

Farmers Renting Equipment – Does it Trigger A Self-Employment Tax Liability?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/farmers-renting-equipment-does-it-trigger-a-self-employment-tax-liability.html

New Partnership Audit Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/new-partnership-audit-rules.html

Self-Employment Tax on Farm Rental Income – Is the Mizell Veneer Cracking?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/self-employment-tax-on-farm-rental-income-is-the-mizell-veneer-cracking.html

IRS To Finalize Regulations on Tax Status of LLC and LLP Members?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/irs-to-finalize-regulations-on-tax-status-of-llc-and-llp-members.html

H.R. 1 – Farmers, Self-Employment Tax and Business Arrangement Structures

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/hr-1-farmers-self-employment-tax-and-business-arrangement-structures.html

Summer 2018 – Farm Tax and Farm Business Education

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/summer-2018-farm-tax-and-farm-business-education.html

Partnerships and Tax Law – Details Matter

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/partnership-and-tax-law-details-matter.html   

CIVIL LIABILITIES

The Most Important Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/the-most-important-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016 (Ten Through Six)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016-ten-through-six.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Developments of 2016 (Five Through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-developments-of-2016-five-through-one.html

Recreational Use Statutes – What is Covered?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/recreational-use-statutes-what-is-covered.html

Is Aesthetic Damage Enough to Make Out a Nuisance Claim?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/is-aesthetic-damage-enough-to-make-out-a-nuisance-claim.html

Liability Associated with a Range of Fires and Controlled Burns

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/liability-associated-with-a-range-fires-and-controlled-burns.html

What’s My Liability for Spread of Animal Disease

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/whats-my-liability-for-spread-of-animal-disease.html

Dicamba Spray-Drift Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/dicamba-spray-drift-issues.html

Agricultural Law in a Nutshell

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/agricultural-law-in-a-nutshell.html

The Business of Agriculture – Upcoming CLE Symposium

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/the-business-of-agriculture-upcoming-cle-symposium.html

Right-to-Farm Laws

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/right-to-farm-laws.html

CONTRACTS

The Most Important Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/the-most-important-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016 (Ten Through Six)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016-ten-through-six.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law Developments of 2016 (Five Through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-developments-of-2016-five-through-one.html

Another Issue With Producing Livestock on Contract – Insurance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/another-issue-with-producing-livestock-on-contract-insurance.html

The Ability of Tenants-in-Common To Bind Co-Tenants to a Farm Lease – and Related Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/the-ability-of-tenants-in-common-to-bind-co-tenants-to-a-farm-lease-and-related-issues.html

Ag Goods Sold at Auction – When is a Contract Formed?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/ag-goods-sold-at-auction-when-is-a-contract-formed.html

Agricultural Law in a Nutshell

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/agricultural-law-in-a-nutshell.html

The Business of Agriculture – Upcoming CLE Symposium

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/the-business-of-agriculture-upcoming-cle-symposium.html

Ag Contracts and Express Warranties

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/ag-contracts-and-express-warranties.html

What Remedies Does a Buyer Have When a Seller of Ag Goods Breaches the Contract?           

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/what-remedies-does-a-buyer-have-when-a-seller-of-ag-goods-breaches-the-contract.html  

COOPERATIVES

The Most Important Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2016

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/the-most-important-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law Developments of 2016 (Five Through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2016-ten-through-six.html

What Is a Cooperative Director’s Liability to Member-Shareholders and Others?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/what-is-a-cooperative-directors-liability-to-member-shareholders-and-others.html

CRIMINAL LIABILITIES

The Necessity Defense to Criminal Liability

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/the-necessity-defense-to-criminal-liability.html

The Business of Agriculture – Upcoming CLE Symposium

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/the-business-of-agriculture-upcoming-cle-symposium.html

What Problems Does The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Pose For Farmers, Ranchers and Rural Landowners?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/what-problems-does-the-migratory-bird-treaty-act-pose-for-farmers-ranchers-and-rural-landowners.html

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Drainage Activities on Farmland and the USDA

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/drainage-activities-on-farmland-and-the-usda.html

The Application of the Endangered Species Act to Activities on Private Land

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/the-application-of-the-endangered-species-act-to-activities-on-private-land.html

Eminent Domain – The Government’s Power to “Take” Private Property

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/eminent-domain-the-governments-power-to-take-private-property.html

Spray Drift As Hazardous Waste?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/spray-drift-as-hazardous-waste.html

What Problems Does The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Pose For Farmers, Ranchers and Rural Landowners?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/what-problems-does-the-migratory-bird-treaty-act-pose-for-farmers-ranchers-and-rural-landowners.html

The Prior Converted Cropland Exception From Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/the-prior-converted-cropland-exception-from-clean-water-act-jurisdiction.html

Air Emission Reporting Requirement For Livestock Operations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/air-emission-reporting-requirement-for-livestock-operations.html

ESTATE PLANNING

Rights of Refusal and the Rule Against Perpetuities

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/rights-of-refusal-and-the-rule-against-perpetuities.html

Some Thoughts On Long-Term Care Insurance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/some-thoughts-on-long-term-care-insurance.html

Overview of Gifting Rules and Strategies                                                                 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/overview-of-gifting-rules-and-strategies.html

Disinheriting a Spouse – Can It Be Done?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/disinheriting-a-spouse-can-it-be-done.html

Specific Property Devised in Will (or Trust) That Doesn’t Exist At Death – What Happens?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/specific-property-devised-in-will-that-doesnt-exist-at-death-what-happens.html

Discounting IRAs for Income Tax Liability?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/discounting-iras-for-income-tax-liability.html

Special Use Valuation and Cash Leasing

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/special-use-valuation-and-cash-leasing.html

Self-Employment Tax On Farming Activity Of Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/self-employment-tax-on-farming-activity-of-trusts.html

Would an Interest Charge Domestic International Sales Corporation Benefit a Farming Business?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/would-an-interest-charge-domestic-international-sales-corporation-benefit-a-farming-business.html

An Installment Sale as Part of An Estate Plan

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/an-installment-sale-as-part-of-an-estate-plan.html

Using An IDGT For Wealth Transfer and Business Succession

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/using-an-idgt-for-wealth-transfer-and-business-succession.html

Federal Tax Claims in Decedent’s Estates – What’s the Liability and Priority?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/federal-tax-claims-in-decedents-estates-whats-the-liability-and-priority.html

Estate Tax Portability – The Authority of the IRS To Audit

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/estate-tax-portability-the-authority-of-the-irs-to-audit.html

Digital Assets and Estate Planning       

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/digital-assets-and-estate-planning.html

INCOME TAX

The Burden of Proof in Tax Cases – What are the Rules?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/the-burden-of-proof-in-tax-cases-what-are-the-rules.html

The Home Office Deduction

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/the-home-office-deduction.html

IRS To Continue Attacking Cash Method For Farmers Via the “Farming Syndicate Rule”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/irs-to-continue-attacking-cash-method-for-farmers-via-the-farming-syndicate-rule.html

Using Schedule J As A Planning Tool For Clients With Farm Income

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/using-schedule-j-as-a-planning-tool-for-clients-with-farm-income.html

Deductibility of Soil and Water Conservation Expenses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/deductibility-of-soil-and-water-conservation-expenses.html

Should Purchased Livestock Be Depreciated or Inventoried?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/should-purchased-livestock-be-depreciated-or-inventoried.html

The Changing Structure of Agricultural Production and…the IRS

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/the-changing-structure-of-agricultural-production-andthe-irs.html

Farm-Related Casualty Losses and Involuntary Conversions – Helpful Tax Rules in Times of Distress

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/farm-related-casualty-losses-and-involuntary-conversions-helpful-tax-rules-in-times-of-distress.html

Charitable Contributions Via Trust

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/charitable-contributions-via-trust.html

Ag Tax Policy The Focus in D.C.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/ag-tax-policy-the-focus-in-dc-.html

For Depreciation Purposes, What Does Placed in Service Mean?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/for-depreciation-purposes-what-does-placed-in-service-mean.html

Tax Treatment of Commodity Futures and Options

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/tax-treatment-of-commodity-futures-and-options.html

Discounting IRAs for Income Tax Liability?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/discounting-iras-for-income-tax-liability.html

Like-Kind Exchanges, Reverse Exchanges, and the Safe Harbor

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/like-kind-exchanges-reverse-exchanges-and-the-safe-harbor.html

Insights Into Handling IRS Disputes

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/insights-into-handling-irs-disputes.html

Employer-Provided Meals and Lodging

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/employer-provided-meals-and-lodging.html

Self-Employment Tax On Farming Activity Of Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/self-employment-tax-on-farming-activity-of-trusts.html

Minority Shareholder Oppression Case Raises Several Tax Questions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/minority-shareholder-oppression-case-raises-several-tax-questions.html

Input Costs – When Can a Deduction Be Claimed?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/input-costs-when-can-a-deduction-be-claimed.html

Like-Kind Exchange Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/like-kind-exchange-issues.html

Tax Issues With Bad Debt Deductions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/tax-issues-with-bad-debt-deductions.html

Like-Kind Exchanges – The Related Party Rule and a Planning Opportunity

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/like-kind-exchanges-the-related-party-rule-and-a-planning-opportunity.html

Tax Treatment of Cooperative Value-Added Payments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/tax-treatment-of-cooperative-value-added-payments.html

Would an Interest Charge Domestic International Sales Corporation Benefit a Farming Business?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/would-an-interest-charge-domestic-international-sales-corporation-benefit-a-farming-business.html

Timber Tax Issues – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/timber-tax-issues-part-one.html

Timber Tax Issues – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/timber-tax-issues-part-two.html

An Installment Sale as Part of An Estate Plan

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/an-installment-sale-as-part-of-an-estate-plan.html

Using An IDGT For Wealth Transfer and Business Succession

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/using-an-idgt-for-wealth-transfer-and-business-succession.html

Prospects for Tax Legislation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/prospects-for-tax-legislation.html

Deferred Payment Contracts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/deferred-payment-contracts.html

When Is A Farmer Not A “Qualified Farmer” For Conservation Easement Donation Purposes?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/when-is-a-farmer-not-a-qualified-farmer-for-conservation-easement-donation-purposes.html

Substantiating Charitable Contributions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/substantiating-charitable-contributions.html

Forming a Farming/Ranching Corporation Tax-Free

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/forming-a-farmingranching-corporation-tax-free.html

Farmers Renting Equipment – Does It Trigger A Self-Employment Tax Liability?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/farmers-renting-equipment-does-it-trigger-a-self-employment-tax-liability.html

Commodity Credit Corporation Loans and Elections

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/commodity-credit-corporation-loans-and-elections.html

New Partnership Audit Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/new-partnership-audit-rules.html

Alternatives to Like-Kind Exchanges of Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/alternatives-to-like-kind-exchanges-of-farmland.html

South Dakota Attempts To Change Internet Sales Taxation – What Might Be The Impact On Small Businesses?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/south-dakota-attempts-to-change-internet-sales-taxation-what-might-be-the-impact-on-small-businesses.html

Fall Tax Schools

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/fall-tax-schools.html

Self-Employment Tax on Farm Rental Income – Is the Mizell Veneer Cracking?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/self-employment-tax-on-farm-rental-income-is-the-mizell-veneer-cracking.html

Tax Treatment of Settlements and Court Judgments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/tax-treatment-of-settlements-and-court-judgments.html

The “Perpetuity” Requirement For Donated Easements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/the-perpetuity-requirement-for-donated-easements.html

The Tax Rules Involving Prepaid Farm Expenses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/the-tax-rules-involving-prepaid-farm-expenses.html

It’s Just About Tax School Time

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/its-just-about-tax-school-time.html

IRS To Finalize Regulations On Tax Status of LLC and LLP Members?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/irs-to-finalize-regulations-on-tax-status-of-llc-and-llp-members.html

The Deductibility (Or Non-Deductibility) of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/10/the-deductibility-or-non-deductibility-of-interest.html

H.R. 1 - Farmers, Self-Employment Tax and Business Arrangement Structures

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/hr-1-farmers-self-employment-tax-and-business-arrangement-structures.html

The Broad Reach of the Wash-Sale Rule

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/the-broad-reach-of-the-wash-sale-rule.html

Comparison of the House and Senate Tax Bills – Implications for Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/comparison-of-the-house-and-senate-tax-bills-implications-for-agriculture.html

Partnerships and Tax Law – Details Matter

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/partnership-and-tax-law-details-matter.html

Senate Clears Tax Bill - On To Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/senate-clears-tax-bill-on-to-conference-committee.html

Are Taxes Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/are-taxes-dischargeable-in-bankruptcy.html

Bitcoin Fever and the Tax Man

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/bitcoin-fever-and-the-tax-man.html

House and Senate to Vote on Conference Tax Bill This Week

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/house-and-senate-to-vote-on-conference-tax-bill-this-week.html

Another Tax Bill Introduced, Year-End Planning, and Jan. 10 Seminar/Webinar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/another-tax-bill-introduced-year-end-planning-and-jan-10-seminarwebinar.html

PUBLICATIONS

Agricultural Law in a Nutshell

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/agricultural-law-in-a-nutshell.html

REAL PROPERTY

Another Issue When the Definition of “Agriculture” Matters – Property Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/another-issue-when-the-definition-of-agriculture-matters-property-tax.html

The Ability of Tenants-in-Common To Bind Co-Tenants to a Farm Lease – and Related Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/the-ability-of-tenants-in-common-to-bind-co-tenants-to-a-farm-lease-and-related-issues.html

Like-Kind Exchanges, Reverse Exchanges, and the Safe Harbor

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/05/like-kind-exchanges-reverse-exchanges-and-the-safe-harbor.html

Like-Kind Exchange Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/like-kind-exchange-issues.html

Easements on Agricultural Land – Classification and Legal Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/easements-on-agricultural-land-classification-and-legal-issues.html

Should I Enter Into An Oil and Gas Lease?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/should-i-enter-into-an-oil-and-gas-lease.html

REGULATORY LAW

Checkoffs, The Courts and Free Speech

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/checkoffs-the-courts-and-free-speech.html

Joint Employment Situations In Agriculture – What’s the FLSA Test?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/joint-employment-situations-in-agriculture-whats-the-flsa-test.html

Farmers, Ranchers and Government Administrative Agencies

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/farmers-ranchers-and-government-administrative-agencies.html

IRS To Target “Hobby” Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/irs-to-target-hobby-farmers.html

Drainage Activities on Farmland and the USDA

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/drainage-activities-on-farmland-and-the-usda.html

What is a “Separate Person” For Payment Limitation Purposes?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/what-is-a-separate-person-for-payment-limitation-purposes.html

Livestock Indemnity Payments – What They Are and Tax Reporting Options

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/03/livestock-indemnity-payments-what-they-are-and-tax-reporting-options.html

Can One State Regulate Agricultural Production Activities in Other States?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/can-one-state-regulate-agricultural-production-activities-in-other-states.html

Farm Program Payment Limitations and Entity Planning – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/farm-program-payment-limitations-and-entity-planning-part-one.html

Farm Program Payment Limitations and Entity Planning – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/farm-program-payment-limitations-and-entity-planning-part-two.html

Eminent Domain – The Government’s Power to “Take” Private Property

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/eminent-domain-the-governments-power-to-take-private-property.html

Department of Labor Overtime Rules Struck Down – What’s the Impact on Ag?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/department-of-labor-overtime-rules-struck-down-whats-the-impact-on-ag.html

The Prior Converted Cropland Exception From Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/the-prior-converted-cropland-exception-from-clean-water-act-jurisdiction.html

Air Emission Reporting Requirement For Livestock Operations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/air-emission-reporting-requirement-for-livestock-operations.html

Federal Labor Law and Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/federal-labor-law-and-agriculture.html

 Electronic Logs For Truckers and Implications for Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/electronic-logs-for-truckers-and-implications-for-agriculture.html

SECURED TRANSACTIONS

Ag Supply Dealer Liens – Important Tool in Tough Financial Times

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/01/ag-supply-dealer-liens-important-tool-in-tough-financial-times.html

“Commercial Reasonableness” of Collateral Sales

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/commercial-reasonableness-of-collateral-sales.html

What Are A Farmer’s Rights When a Grain Elevator Fails?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/07/what-are-a-farmers-rights-when-a-grain-elevator-fails.html

Selling Collateralized Ag Products – The “Farm Products” Rule

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/selling-collateralized-ag-products-the-farm-products-rule.html

SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES

Fall Tax Schools

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/09/fall-tax-schools.html

Another Tax Bill Introduced, Year-End Planning, and Jan. 10 Seminar/Webinar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/another-tax-bill-introduced-year-end-planning-and-jan-10-seminarwebinar.html

Summer 2018 - Farm Tax and Farm Business Education

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/11/summer-2018-farm-tax-and-farm-business-education.html

The Business of Agriculture – Upcoming CLE Symposium

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/08/the-business-of-agriculture-upcoming-cle-symposium.html

Summer Ag Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/06/summer-ag-taxestate-and-business-planning-conference.html

WATER LAW

Prior Appropriation – First in Time, First in Right

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/prior-appropriation-first-in-time-first-in-right.html

Kansas Water Law - Reactions to and Potential Consequences of the Garetson decision

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/02/kansas-water-law-reactions-to-and-potential-consequences-of-the-garetson-decision.html

Public Access To Private Land Via Water

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/04/public-access-to-private-land-via-water.html

Big Development for Water in the West - Federal Implied Reserved Water Rights Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2017/12/big-development-for-water-in-the-west-federal-implied-reserved-water-rights-doctrine-applies-to-grou.html

April 2, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 29, 2021

Damaged and/or Destroyed Trees and Crops – How is the Loss Measured?

Overview

Sometimes a farmer, rancher or other rural landowner experiences damages to trees as a result of someone else’s conduct.  Maybe the damage occurs from aerial spry drift or excess (and wrongful) water drainage from an adjacent tract, or from some other occurrence.  The trees could be a producing orchard; or a windbreak designed to minimize soil loss and protect buildings; or ornamental trees and bushes providing an aesthetic benefit.  Often, trees are planted to become mature trees with an eye toward materially benefitting the property – whether monetarily or not.  

No matter whether the damage was intentional or a result of negligence, the computation of the amount of damages the landowner is entitled to can be difficult to determine. 

Computing tree damage - it’s the topic of today’s post. 

Negligence – Determining Liability

The negligence concept is the great workhorse of tort law.  More than 90 percent of all civil liability problems are those relating to negligence.  The negligence system is designed to provide compensation to those who suffer personal injury or property damage.  The negligence system is a fault-based system.  The vast majority of situations involving damage to trees are the result of negligent conduct with liability determined under the negligence, fault-based approach

For a person to be deemed legally negligent, certain conditions must exist. These conditions can be thought of as links in a chain. Each condition must be present before a finding of negligence can be obtained.  The first condition is that of a legal duty giving rise to a standard of care.  To be liable for a negligent tort, the defendant's conduct must have fallen below that of a “reasonable and prudent person” under the circumstances.  If a legal duty exists, it is necessary to determine whether the defendant's conduct fell short of the conduct of a “reasonable and prudent person (or professional) under the circumstances.”  This is called a breach, and it is the second element of a negligent tort case.  Once a legal duty and breach of that duty are shown to exist, a causal connection (the third element) must be established between the defendant's act and (the fourth element) the plaintiff's injuries (whether to person or property.  In other words, the resulting harm to the plaintiff must have been a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant's conduct at the time the conduct occurred. Reasonable foreseeability is the essence of causality (also known as proximate cause).

Computing Damages

The fourth element of a tort claim, damages, when occurring to an annual crop (such as corn, soybeans and wheat, for example), are pegged by the lost value of the crop pegs.  That’s the starting point for determining the amount that can be recovered.  Of course, the party suffering the loss must establish the extent of the monetary damage, often by market data or by establishing the existence of a contract that specified the amount to be received on harvest and sale, discounted for risk of loss due to weather and/or insects. 

But, when the damage occurs to a plant, such as a tree, there is an additional component to the damage calculation – restoration.  Restoration involves calculating the cost of returning the disaffected landowner’s property to its condition before the damage occurred.  Sometimes courts compute the restorative cost as the difference in the value of the land before and after the damage.  But, the cases also demonstrate that the computation is not easy. See, e.g., B. & B. Farms, Inc. v. Matlock’s Fruit Farms, Inc., 73 Wash. 2d 146, 437 P.2d 178 (1968); Reeder Flying Service v. Crompton, 470 P.2d 281(Wyo. 1970).  The courts use various measures to assess the loss, but the goal is to provide adequate compensation so that the injured party is restored as closely as possible to pre-damage status.

Note:  A lawsuit to recover damages to trees (as well as crops), under the common law, is considered to be an action to recover for injuries to real estate.  Thus, the lawsuit is to be filed in the county where the trees are/were standing. 

For trees and vines that produce nuts and fruits, the measure of damages is generally the difference in land value immediately before and after the damage or destruction.  See, e.g., Rowe v. Chicago & North Western Railway Co., 102 Iowa 286 (1897); Collins v. Morris, 97 Kan. 264 (1916).  But, it might also be possible for the plaintiff to recover the value of the crop before the damage occurred.  So, the plaintiff should provide evidence of the cost of harvesting and marketing the crop in addition to the value of the crop itself.  Damages are a net computation.  See, e.g., Peterson v. Hager, 714 F.2d 1035 (10th Cir. 1983)But, one court has held that damages to a fruit crop itself could not be awarded because the value of the fruit-producing trees was an element of the damages.  If the value of the crop were to be included in the damage calculation, the court reasoned, the result would be double damages.  Hill v. Morrison, 88 Cal. App. 405, 263 P. 573 (1928). 

Recent Case

A Kansas case last year illustrates how courts handle claims involving alleged damages to trees.  In Ringneck Farms, LLC v. Steuwe, 471 P.3d 33 (Kan. Ct. App. 2020), the plaintiff owned a ranch used for commercial hunting purposes that was adjacent to the defendant’s property. The ranch had a row of hedge trees approximately 20 yards wide and 300 yards long adjacent to the defendant’s property. The hedge trees were mature trees. The defendant’s tenant contacted the plaintiff requesting permission to cut down the hedgerow and install a fence. The plaintiff told the tenant to not cut down the trees or disturb the vegetation. However, the tenant proceeded to cut down the hedgerow and installed the fence. In the process about 156 mature trees were destroyed. The plaintiff sued alleging negligence, conversion and trespass claiming that that the loss of the trees decreased the value of the property for hunting purposes. The defendant filed a motion in limine seeking to bar the plaintiff from presenting evidence about the trees’ replacement value, claiming that Kansas law did not recognize replacement value as a proper measure of damages for tree destruction. The defendant specifically referred to the plaintiff’s two experts, arborists that were prepared to testify that the replacement cost of the trees was $1,092,361.

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion. The defendant then moved for summary judgment, claiming that the trial court’s grant of the motion in limine established that the plaintiff could not establish that damages existed and, thus, had no claim. The trial court granted the summary judgment motion on the negligence issue, finding that the plaintiff did not know the market value of the ranch before and after the trees were removed and, thus, could not prove damages. In its response to the summary judgment motion, the plaintiff claimed that the ranch was damaged by virtue of the tree removal reducing the quality of hunting on the ranch. However, the trial court viewed this assertion did not convert any of the defendant’s statement of facts.

On appeal, the issue was whether the plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence of damages to present its case to a jury. The appellate court first determined that the plaintiff had not abandoned its claims for conversion and trespass because the defendant didn’t specifically address the conversion and trespass claims in the defendant’s trial court motions focusing solely on negligence. The appellate court also determined that the trial court did not err in granting the defendant’s motion in limine. The appellate court noted that damages had to be calculated in a reasonable manner, citing the fact that replacement cost of the trees with mature trees would exceed three times the value of the ranch. Thus, it was proper for the trial court to exclude the plaintiff’s proposed evidence on replacement cost of the hedgerow with mature trees.

On review of the grant of summary judgment on the negligence claims, the appellate court noted that the general rule that the measure of damages for negligent destruction of trees is the difference in market value of the land immediately before and after the damage. However, the appellate court noted that this rule is flexible, and the parties may present evidence supporting alternative measures of damages – trees having value independent of the land; loss of income from fruit trees; sentimental value of a tree, etc.  See, e.g., Evenson v. Lilley, 295 Kan. 43, 282 P.3d 610 (2012). On this point, the appellate court concluded that the plaintiff had submitted sufficient evidence of damages to overcome the defendant’s summary judgment motion. The appellate court noted that the plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence to overcome the motion by showing that the removal of the trees impacted the quality of hunting on the ranch which justified reasonable replacement costs as a measure of damages. The appellate court also determined that the plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence of damages on the conversion and trespass claims. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. 

Conclusion

When tree damage occurs on a farm, ranch or rural property the computation of damages is a key focus.  The damage calculation can differ based on whether the trees are income producing, soil preservation, or simply provide aesthetic beauty.  However, in general, the courts try to make the damaged party whole by returning them to the place they were in before the damage occurred.  Preserving evidence and substantiating the loss is key to recovery.

March 29, 2021 in Civil Liabilities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Ag Law and Taxation - 2018 Bibliography

Overview

Today's post is a bibliography of my ag law and tax blog articles of 2018.  Many of you have requested that I provide something like this to make it easier to find the articles, and last month I posted the bibliography of the 2020 and 2019 articles.  Soon I will post the bibliography of the 2017 articles and then 2016.  After those are posted.  I will post one long bibliography containing all of the articles up to that point in time.  Then, to close out 2021, I will post the articles of 2021. 

The library of content is piling up.

Cataloging the 2018 ag law and tax blog articles - it's the topic of today's post.

BANKRUPTCY

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017 (Ten through Six)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017-ten-through-six.html

Chapter 12 Bankruptcy – Feasibility of the Reorganization Plan

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/chapter-12-bankruptcy-feasibility-of-the-reorganization-plan.html

Farm Bankruptcy and the Preferential Payment Rule

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/farm-bankruptcy-and-the-preferential-payment-rule.html

Can a Bankrupt Farm Debtor Make Plan Payments Directly to Creditors?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/can-a-bankrupt-farm-debtor-make-plan-payments-directly-to-creditors.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

Chapter 12 Bankruptcy and the Tools-of-the-Trade Exemption

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/chapter-12-bankruptcy-and-the-tools-of-the-trade-exemption.html

Developments in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/developments-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

BUSINESS PLANNING

The “Almost Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-almost-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017.html

The Spousal Qualified Joint Venture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/the-spousal-qualified-joint-venture.html

The Spousal Qualified Joint Venture – Implications for Self-Employment Tax and Federal Farm Program Payment Limitations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/the-spousal-qualified-joint-venture-implications-for-self-employment-tax-and-federal-farm-program-payment-limitations.html

Form a C Corporation – The New Vogue in Business Structure?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/form-a-c-corporation-the-new-vogue-in-business-structure.html

Tax Issues When Forming a C Corporation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/tax-issues-when-forming-a-c-corporation.html

End of Tax Preparation Season Means Tax Seminar Season is About to Begin

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/end-of-tax-preparation-season-means-tax-seminar-season-is-about-to-begin.html

Converting a C Corporation to an S Corporation – The Problem of Passive Income

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/converting-a-c-corporation-to-an-s-corporation-the-problem-of-passive-income.html

Valuation Discounting

              https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/valuation-discounting.html

Valuation Discounting – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/valuation-discounting-part-two.html

The Impact of the TCJA on Estates and Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/the-impact-of-the-tcja-on-estates-and-trusts.html

Buy-Sell Agreements for Family Businesses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/buy-sell-agreements-for-family-businesses.html

When is an Informal Business Arrangement a Partnership?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/when-is-an-informal-business-arrangement-a-partnership.html

Management Activities and the Passive Loss Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/management-activities-and-the-passive-loss-rules.html

Expense Method Depreciation and Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/expense-method-depreciation-and-trusts.html

Qualified Business Income Deduction – Proposed Regulations

  https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/qualified-business-income-deduction-proposed-regulations.html

Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust – What is it and How Does it Work?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/intentionally-defective-grantor-trust-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work.html

When Can a Corporate Shareholder be Held Liable for Corporate Debts and Liabilities?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/when-can-a-corporate-shareholder-be-held-liable-for-corporate-debts-and-liabilities.html

Farm Wealth Transfer and Business Succession – The GRAT

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/farm-wealth-transfer-and-business-succession-the-grat.html

Social Security Planning for Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/social-security-planning-for-farmers.html

Corporations Post-TCJA and Anti-Corporate Farming Laws

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/corporations-post-tcja-and-anti-corporate-farming-laws.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

What Happens When a Partner Dies?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/what-happens-when-a-partner-dies.html

What are the Tax Consequences on Sale or Exchange of a Partnership Interest?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/what-are-the-tax-consequences-on-sale-or-exchange-of-a-partnership-interest.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

CIVIL LIABILITIES

The “Almost Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-almost-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017.html

Landlord Liability for Injuries Occurring on Leased Premises

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/landlord-liability-for-injuries-occurring-on-leased-premises.html

When Does a Rule of Strict Liability Apply on the Farm?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/when-does-a-rule-of-strict-liability-apply-on-the-farm.html

When Can I Shoot My Neighbor’s Dog?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/when-can-i-shoot-my-neighbors-dog.html

Reasonable Foreseeability

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/reasonable-foreseeability.html

What is “Agriculture” for Purposes of Agritourism?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/what-is-agriculture-for-purposes-of-agritourism.html

Negligence – Can You Prove Liability?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/negligence-can-you-prove-liability.html

Wind Farm Nuisance Matter Resolved – Buy the Homeowners Out!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/wind-farm-nuisance-matter-resolved-buy-the-homeowners-out.html

Torts Down on the Farm

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/torts-down-on-the-farm.html

Roadkill – It’s What’s for Dinner

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/roadkill-its-whats-for-dinner.html

What Difference Does it Make if I Post My Property “No Trespassing”?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/what-difference-does-it-make-if-i-post-my-property-no-trespassing.html

Liability for Injuries Associated with Horses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/liability-for-injuries-associated-with-horses.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

Developments in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/developments-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

CONTRACTS

Is a Farmer a Merchant?  Why it Might Matter

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/is-a-farmer-a-merchant-why-it-might-matter.html

Some Thoughts on the Importance of Leasing Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/some-thoughts-on-the-importance-of-leasing-farmland.html

Contract Rescission – When Can You Back Out of a Deal?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/contract-rescission-when-can-you-back-out-of-a-deal.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

Disclaiming Implied Warranties

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/disclaiming-implied-warranties.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

COOPERATIVES

The Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction – What a Mess!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-qualified-business-income-qbi-deduction-what-a-mess.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

CRIMINAL LIABILITIES

Curtilage – How Much Ag Property is Protected from a Warrantless Search?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/curtilage-how-much-ag-property-is-protected-from-a-warrantless-search.html

Establishing the Elements of a Cruelty to Animals Charge

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/establishing-the-elements-of-a-cruelty-to-animals-charge.html

What Difference Does it Make if I Post My Property “No Trespassing”?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/what-difference-does-it-make-if-i-post-my-property-no-trespassing.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

The “Almost Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-almost-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017 (Five through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017-five-through-one.html

Is a CWA Permit Needed for Pollution Discharges via Groundwater?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/is-a-cwa-permit-needed-for-pollution-discharges-via-groundwater.html

Non-Tax Ag Provisions and the Omnibus Bill

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/non-tax-ag-provisions-in-the-omnibus-bill.html

Wetlands and Farm Programs – Does NRCS Understand the Rules?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/wetlands-and-farm-programs-does-nrcs-understand-the-rules.html

Regulation of Wetlands and “Ipse Dixit” Determinations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/regulation-of-wetlands-and-ipse-dixit-determinations.html

WOTUS Developments

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/wotus-developments.html

Does the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Apply to Farmers?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/does-the-migratory-bird-treaty-act-apply-to-farmers.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

Is Groundwater a “Point Source” Pollutant?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/is-groundwater-a-point-source-pollutant.html

“Waters of the United States” Means “Frozen Soil”?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/waters-of-the-united-states-means-frozen-soil.html

Developments in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/developments-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

Can an Endangered Species be Protected in Areas Where it Can’t Survive?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/can-an-endangered-species-be-protected-in-areas-where-it-cant-survive.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

ESTATE PLANNING

The “Almost Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-almost-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017.html

The Tax Cuts and Job Acts – How Does it Impact Estate Planning?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-how-does-it-impact-estate-planning.html

What’s the Charitable Deduction for Donations From a Trust?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/whats-the-charitable-deduction-for-donations-from-a-trust.html

The Spousal Qualified Joint Venture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/the-spousal-qualified-joint-venture.html

Why Clarity in Will/Trust Language Matters

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/why-clarity-in-willtrust-language-matters.html

Some Thoughts on the Importance of Leasing Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/some-thoughts-on-the-importance-of-leasing-farmland.html

End of Tax Preparation Season Means Tax Seminar Season is About to Begin

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/end-of-tax-preparation-season-means-tax-seminar-season-is-about-to-begin.html

Modifying an Irrevocable Trust – Decanting

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/modifying-an-irrevocable-trust-decanting.html

Valuation Discounting – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/valuation-discounting-part-two.html

The Impact of the TCJA on Estates and Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/the-impact-of-the-tcja-on-estates-and-trusts.html

Impact of Post-Death Events on Valuation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/impact-of-post-death-events-on-valuation.html

Beneficiary Designations, Changed Circumstances and the Contracts Clause

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/beneficiary-designations-changed-circumstances-and-the-contracts-clause.html

Qualified Business Income Deduction – Proposed Regulations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/qualified-business-income-deduction-proposed-regulations.html

Spousal Joint Tendencies and Income Tax Basis

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/spousal-joint-tenancies-and-income-tax-basis.html

Farm and Ranch Estate Planning in 2018 and Forward

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/farm-and-ranch-estate-planning-in-2018-and-forward.html

The TCJA, Charitable Giving and a Donor-Advised Fund

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/the-tcja-charitable-giving-and-a-donor-advised-fund.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

Unpaid Tax at Death – How Long Does IRS Have to Collect?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/unpaid-tax-at-death-how-long-does-irs-have-to-collect.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

INCOME TAX

The “Almost Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-almost-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017 (Five through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017-five-through-one.html

The Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction – What a Mess!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-qualified-business-income-qbi-deduction-what-a-mess.html

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – How Does it Impact Estate Planning?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-how-does-it-impact-estate-planning.html

What’s the Charitable Deduction for Donations from a Trust?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/whats-the-charitable-deduction-for-donations-from-a-trust.html

Can Farmers Currently Deduct Research Expenditures?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/can-farmers-currently-deduct-research-expenditures.html

Innovation on the Farm – Will the Research and Development Credit Apply?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/innovation-on-the-farm-will-the-research-and-development-credit-apply.html

What Happens When the IRS Deems an Ag Activity to Be a Hobby?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/what-happens-when-the-irs-deems-an-ag-activity-to-be-a-hobby.html

The Spousal Qualified Joint Venture – Implications for Self-Employment Tax and Federal Farm Program Payment Limitations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/the-spousal-qualified-joint-venture-implications-for-self-employment-tax-and-federal-farm-program-payment-limitations.html

Livestock Sold or Destroyed Because of Disease

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/livestock-sold-or-destroyed-because-of-disease.html

Form a C Corporation – The New Vogue in Business Structure?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/form-a-c-corporation-the-new-vogue-in-business-structure.html

Deductible Repairs Versus Capitalization

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/deductible-repairs-versus-capitalization.html

The Tax Treatment of Farming Net Operating Losses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/the-tax-treatment-of-farming-net-operating-losses.html

Congress Modifies the Qualified Business Income Deduction

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/congress-modifies-the-qualified-business-income-deduction.html

IRS Collections – The Basics

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/irs-collections-the-basics-.html

Tax Issues Associated with Oil and Gas Production

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/tax-issues-associated-with-oil-and-gas-production.html

Refundable Fuel Credits – Following the Rules Matters

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/refundable-fuel-credits-following-the-rules-matters.html

Distinguishing Between a Capital Lease and an Operating Lease

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/distinguishing-between-a-capital-lease-and-an-operating-lease.html

End of Tax Preparation Season Means Tax Seminar Season is About to Begin

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/end-of-tax-preparation-season-means-tax-seminar-season-is-about-to-begin.html

Passive Activities and Grouping

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/passive-activities-and-grouping.html

Divorce and the New Tax Law – IRS Grants Some Relief

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/divorce-and-the-new-tax-law-irs-grants-some-relief.html

Gifts of Ag Commodities to Children and the New Tax Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/gifts-of-ag-commodities-to-children-and-the-new-tax-law.html

Post-Death Sale of Crops and Livestock

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/post-death-sale-of-crops-and-livestock.html

Is There a Downside Risk to E-Filing Your Taxes?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/is-there-a-downside-risk-to-e-filing-your-taxes.html

Purchase and Sale Allocations to CRP Contracts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/purchase-and-sale-allocations-to-crp-contracts.html

Converting a C Corporation to an S Corporation – The Problem of Passive Income

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/converting-a-c-corporation-to-an-s-corporation-the-problem-of-passive-income.html

The Impact of the TCJA on Estates and Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/the-impact-of-the-tcja-on-estates-and-trusts.html

The TCJA and I.R.C. 529 Plans

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/the-tcja-and-irc-529-plans.html

Farmers, Self-Employment Tax, and Personal Property Leases

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/farmers-self-employment-tax-and-personal-property-leases.html

State Taxation of Online Sales

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/state-taxation-of-online-sales.html

The Depletion Deduction for Oil and Gas Operations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/the-depletion-deduction-for-oil-and-gas-operations.html

Charitable Giving Post-2017

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/charitable-giving-post-2017.html

When is an Informal Business Arrangement a Partnership?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/when-is-an-informal-business-arrangement-a-partnership.html

Management Activities and the Passive Loss Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/management-activities-and-the-passive-loss-rules.html

Tax Issues on Repossession of Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/tax-issues-on-repossession-of-farmland.html

Outline of Tax Proposals Released

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/outline-of-tax-proposals-released.html

Life Estate/Remainder Arrangements and Income Tax Basis

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/life-estateremainder-arrangements-and-income-tax-basis-.html

Expense Method Depreciation and Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/expense-method-depreciation-and-trusts.html

Qualified Business Income Deduction – Proposed Regulations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/qualified-business-income-deduction-proposed-regulations.html

The Qualified Business Income Deduction and “W-2 Wages”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/the-qualified-business-income-deduction-and-w-2-wages.html

Tax Consequences on Partition and Sale of Land

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/tax-consequences-on-partition-and-sale-of-land.html

Deducting Residual Soil Fertility

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/deducting-residual-soil-fertility.html

Social Security Planning for Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/social-security-planning-for-farmers.html

Eliminating Capital Gain Tax – Qualified Opportunity Zones

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/eliminating-capital-gain-tax-qualified-opportunity-zones.html

The TCJA, Charitable Giving and a Donor-Advised Fund

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/the-tcja-charitable-giving-and-a-donor-advised-fund.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

What is Depreciable Farm Real Property?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/what-is-depreciable-farm-real-property.html

What is “Like-Kind” Real Estate?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/what-is-like-kind-real-estate.html

Developments in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/developments-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

Trusts and Like-Kind Exchanges

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/trusts-and-like-kind-exchanges.html

Unpaid Tax at Death – How Long Does IRS Have to Collect?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/unpaid-tax-at-death-how-long-does-irs-have-to-collect.html

Non-Depreciable Items on the Farm or Ranch

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/non-depreciable-items-on-the-farm-or-ranch.html

What are the Tax Consequences on Sale or Exchange of a Partnership Interest?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/what-are-the-tax-consequences-on-sale-or-exchange-of-a-partnership-interest.html

Expense Method Depreciation and Structures on the Farm

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/expense-method-depreciation-and-structures-on-the-farm.html

Deduction Costs Associated with Items Purchased for Resale

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/sale-of-items-purchased-for-resale.html

Claiming Business Deductions? – Maintain Good Records, and… Hire a Tax Preparer

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/income-tax/page/7/

Depletion – What is it and When is it Available?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/depletion-what-is-it-and-when-is-it-available.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

INSURANCE

Beneficiary Designations, Changed Circumstances and the Contracts Clause

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/beneficiary-designations-changed-circumstances-and-the-contracts-clause.html

Recent Developments Involving Crop Insurance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/recent-developments-involving-crop-insurance.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

Farm Liability Policies – Are All Activities on the Farm Covered?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/farm-liability-policies-are-all-activities-on-the-farm-covered.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

REAL PROPERTY

In-Kind Partition and Adverse Possession – Two Important Concepts in Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/in-kind-partition-and-adverse-possession-two-important-concepts-in-agriculture.html

Some Thoughts on the Importance of Leasing Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/some-thoughts-on-the-importance-of-leasing-farmland.html

Prescriptive Easements and Adverse Possession – Obtaining Title to Land Without Paying for It

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/prescriptive-easements-and-adverse-possession-obtaining-title-to-land-without-paying-for-it.html

Purchase and Sale Allocations to CRP Contracts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/05/purchase-and-sale-allocations-to-crp-contracts.html

Tax Issues on Repossession of Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/tax-issues-on-repossession-of-farmland.html

The Accommodation Doctrine – Working Out Uses Between Surfaces and Subsurface Owners

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/the-accommodation-doctrine-working-out-uses-between-surface-and-subsurface-owners.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

What is “Like-Kind” Real Estate?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/what-is-like-kind-real-estate.html

Negative Easements – Is There a Right to Unobstructed Light, Air, or View?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/negative-easements-is-their-a-right-to-unobstructed-light-air-or-view.html

 The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

REGULATORY LAW

The “Almost Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/the-almost-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017 (Ten through Six)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017-ten-through-six.html

Is There a Constitutional Way to Protect Animal Ag Facilities?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/is-there-a-constitutional-way-to-protect-animal-ag-facilities.html

Trade Issues and Tariffs – Are Agriculture’s Concerns Legitimate?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/03/trade-issues-and-tariffs-are-agricultures-concerns-legitimate.html

Federal Crop Insurance – Some Recent Case Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/federal-crop-insurance-some-recent-case-developments.html

Non-Tax Ag Provisions in the Omnibus Bill

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/04/non-tax-ag-provisions-in-the-omnibus-bill.html

Are Mandatory Assessments for Generic Advertising of Ag Commodities Constitutional?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/are-mandatory-assessments-for-generic-advertising-of-ag-commodities-constitutional.html

Wind Farm Nuisance Matter Resolved – Buy the Homeowners Out!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/06/wind-farm-nuisance-matter-resolved-buy-the-homeowners-out.html

Regulation of Wetlands and “Ipse Dixit” Determinations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/regulation-of-wetlands-and-ipse-dixit-determinations.html

Ag Employment – Verifying the Legal Status of Employees

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/ag-employment-verifying-the-legal-status-of-employees.html

Roadkill – It’s What’s for Dinner

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/roadkill-its-whats-for-dinner.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

“Waters of the United States” Means “Frozen Soil”?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/waters-of-the-united-states-means-frozen-soil.html

How Long Can a Train Block a Crossing?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/11/how-long-can-a-train-block-a-crossing.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html  

SECURED TRANSACTIONS

Ag Finance – Getting the Debtor’s Name Correct on the Financing Statements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/ag-finance-getting-the-debtors-name-correct-on-the-financing-statement.html

What Are “Proceeds” of Crops and Livestock?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/what-are-proceeds-of-crops-and-livestock.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html

SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES

Agricultural Law and Economics Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/07/agricultural-law-and-economics-conference.html

Summer Farm Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/02/summer-farm-income-taxestate-and-business-planning-conference.html

Upcoming Seminars

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/08/upcoming-seminars.html

Fall Tax Seminars

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/fall-tax-seminars.html

Year-End Ag Tax Seminar/Webinar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/year-end-ag-tax-seminarwebinar.html

WATER LAW

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017 (Ten through Six)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017-ten-through-six.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2017 (Five through One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2017-five-through-one.html

The Accommodation Doctrine – Working on Uses Between Surface and Subsurface Owners

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/09/the-accommodation-doctrine-working-out-uses-between-surface-and-subsurface-owners.html

Agricultural Law Online!

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/10/agricultural-law-online.html

Drainage Issues – Rules for Handling Excess Surface Water

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/drainage-issues-rules-for-handling-excess-surface-water.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Tax Developments of 2018

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2018/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018.html  

March 21, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Ag Law and Taxation - 2019 Bibliography

Overview

Today's post is a bibliography of my ag law and tax blog articles of 2019.  Many of you have requested that I provide something like this to make it easier to find the articles, and last month I posted the bibliography of the 2020 articles.  Soon I will post the bibliography of the 2018 articles and then 2017 and 2016. 

The library of content is piling up.

Cataloging the 2019 ag law and tax blog articles - it's the topic of today's post.

BANKRUPTCY

Non-Dischargeable Debts in Bankruptcy

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/non-dischargeable-debts-in-bankruptcy.html

Developments in Agricultural Law and Taxation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/developments-in-agricultural-law-and-taxation.html

More Recent Developments in Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/more-recent-developments-in-agricultural-law.html

More Ag Law and Tax Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/more-ag-law-and-tax-developments.html

Farmers, Bankruptcy and the “Absolute Priority” Rule

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/farmers-bankruptcy-and-the-absolute-priority-rule.html

Ag in the Courtroom

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/ag-in-the-courtroom.html

Key Farm Bankruptcy Modification on the Horizon?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/key-farm-bankruptcy-modification-on-the-horizon.html

Ag Legal Issues in the Courts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/ag-legal-issues-in-the-courts.html

Are Taxes Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/are-taxes-dischargeable-in-bankruptcy.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2019

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2019.html 

BUSINESS PLANNING

Can a State Tax a Trust with No Contact with the State?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/can-a-state-tax-a-trust-with-no-contact-with-the-state.html

Real Estate Professionals and Aggregation – The Passive Loss Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/real-estate-professionals-and-aggregation-the-passive-loss-rules.html  

More Recent Developments in Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/more-recent-developments-in-agricultural-law.html

Self-Rentals and the Passive Loss Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/self-rentals-and-the-passive-loss-rules.html    

What’s the Best Entity Structure for the Farm or Ranch Business?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/whats-the-best-entity-structure-for-the-farm-or-ranch-business.html

Where Does Life Insurance Fit in an Estate Plan for a Farmer or Rancher?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/where-does-life-insurance-fit-in-an-estate-plan-for-a-farmer-or-rancher.html

Recent Developments in Farm and Ranch Business Planning

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/recent-developments-in-farm-and-ranch-business-planning.html

ESOPs and Ag Businesses – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/esops-and-ag-businesses-part-one.html

ESOPs and Ag Businesses – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/esops-and-ag-businesses-part-two.html

Is a Discount for The BIG Tax Available?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/is-a-discount-for-the-big-tax-available.html

Tax Consequences of Forgiving Installment Payment Debt

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/tax-consequences-of-forgiving-installment-payment-debt.html

Ag Law and Tax in the Courts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courts.html

Shareholder Loans and S Corporation Stock Basis

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/shareholder-loans-and-s-corporation-stock-basis.html

The Family Limited Partnership – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/the-family-limited-partnership-part-one.html

The Family Limited Partnership – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/the-family-limited-partnership-part-two.html

Does the Sale of Farmland Trigger Net Investment Income Tax?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/does-the-sale-of-farmland-trigger-net-investment-income-tax.html

Some Thoughts on Ag Estate/Business/Succession Planning

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/some-thoughts-on-ag-estatebusinesssuccession-planning.html

S Corporation Considerations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/s-corporation-considerations.html

CIVIL LIABILITIES

When is an Employer Liable for the Conduct of Workers?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/when-is-an-employer-liable-for-the-conduct-of-workers.html

Selected Recent Cases Involving Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/selected-recent-cases-involving-agricultural-law.html

Ag Nuisances – Basic Principles

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/ag-nuisances-basic-principles.html

Do the Roundup Jury Verdicts Have Meaning For My Farming Operation?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/do-the-roundup-jury-verdicts-have-meaning-for-my-farming-operation.html

What Does a “Reasonable Farmer” Know?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/what-does-a-reasonable-farmer-know.html

Product Liability Down on the Farm - Modifications

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/product-liability-down-on-the-farm-modifications.html

Coming-To-The-Nuisance By Staying Put – Or, When 200 Equals 8,000

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/coming-to-the-nuisance-by-staying-put-or-when-200-equals-8000.html

More Ag Law and Tax Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/more-ag-law-and-tax-developments.html

Public Trust vs. Private Rights – Where’s the Line?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/public-trust-vs-private-rights-wheres-the-line.html

Ag Law in the Courts

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/ag-law-in-the-courts.html

Fence Law Basics

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/fence-law-basics.html

CONTRACTS

Negotiating Cell/Wireless Tower Agreements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/negotiating-cellwireless-tower-agreements.html

Developments in Agricultural Law and Taxation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/developments-in-agricultural-law-and-taxation.html

Ag Contracts – What if Goods Don’t Conform to the Contract?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/ag-contracts-what-if-goods-dont-conform-to-the-contract.html

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Top 10 Developments in Ag Law and Tax for 2018 – Numbers 10 and 9

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-10-developments-in-ag-law-and-tax-for-2018-numbers-10-and-9.html

Top 10 Developments in Ag Law and Tax for 2018 – Numbers 8 and 7

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-10-developments-in-ag-law-and-tax-for-2018-numbers-8-and-7.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2018 – Numbers 6, 5, and 4

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018-numbers-6-5-and-4.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2018 – Numbers 3, 2, and 1

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018-numbers-3-2-and-1.html

Big EPA Developments – WOTUS and Advisory Committees

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/big-epa-developments-wotus-and-advisory-committees.html

Does Soil Erosion Pose a Constitutional Issue?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/does-soil-erosion-pose-a-constitutional-issue.html

Public Trust vs. Private Rights – Where’s the Line?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/public-trust-vs-private-rights-wheres-the-line.html

More Ag Law and Tax Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/more-ag-law-and-tax-developments.html

Eminent Domain and Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/eminent-domain-and-agriculture.html

Court Decisions Illustrates USDA’s Swampbuster “Incompetence”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/court-decision-illustrates-usdas-swampbuster-incompetence.html

Regulatory Changes to the Endangered Species Act

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/regulatory-changes-to-the-endangered-species-act.html

Irrigation Return Flows and the Clean Water Act

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/irrigation-return-flows-and-the-clean-water-act.html

Ag Law in the Courts

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/ag-law-in-the-courts.html

Regulatory Takings – Pursuing a Remedy

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/regulatory-takings-pursuing-a-remedy.html

Does a Pollutant Discharge From Groundwater into a WOTUS Require a Federal Permit?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/does-a-pollutant-discharge-from-groundwater-into-a-wotus-require-a-federal-permit.html

Groundwater Discharges of Pollutants and the Supreme Court

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/groundwater-discharges-of-pollutants-and-the-supreme-court.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2019

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2019.html

ESTATE PLANNING

Tax Filing Season Update and Summer Seminar!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/tax-filing-season-update-and-summer-seminar.html

Time to Review Estate Planning Documents?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/time-to-review-of-estate-planning-documents.html

Can a State Tax a Trust with No Contact with the State?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/can-a-state-tax-a-trust-with-no-contact-with-the-state.html

Estate Planning in Second Marriage Situations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/estate-planning-in-second-marriage-situations.html

Valuing Non-Cash Charitable Gifts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/valuing-non-cash-charitable-gifts.html

Real Estate Professionals and Aggregation – The Passive Loss Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/real-estate-professionals-and-aggregation-the-passive-loss-rules.html

Can the IRS Collect Unpaid Estate Tax From the Beneficiaries?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/can-the-irs-collect-unpaid-estate-tax-from-the-beneficiaries.html

Sale of the Personal Residence After Death

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/sale-of-the-personal-residence-after-death.html

More Recent Developments in Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/more-recent-developments-in-agricultural-law.html

Thrills with Wills – When is a Will “Unduly Influenced”?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/thrills-with-wills-when-is-a-will-unduly-influenced.html

Heirs Liable for Unpaid Federal Estate Tax 28 Years After Death

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/heirs-liable-for-unpaid-federal-estate-tax-28-years-after-death.html

What’s the Best Entity Structure for the Farm or Ranch Business?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/whats-the-best-entity-structure-for-the-farm-or-ranch-business.html

Where Does Life Insurance Fit in an Estate Plan for a Farmer or Rancher?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/where-does-life-insurance-fit-in-an-estate-plan-for-a-farmer-or-rancher.html

Recent Developments in Farm and Ranch Business Planning

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/recent-developments-in-farm-and-ranch-business-planning.html

Wayfair Does Not Mean That a State Can Always Tax a Trust Beneficiary

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/wayfair-does-not-mean-that-a-state-can-always-tax-a-trust-beneficiary.html

ESOPs and Ag Businesses – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/esops-and-ag-businesses-part-one.html

Issues in Estate Planning – Agents, Promises, and Trustees

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/issues-in-estate-planning-agents-promises-and-trustees.html

The Importance of Income Tax Basis “Step-Up” at Death

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/the-importance-of-income-tax-basis-step-up-at-death.html

Ag Law in the Courts

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/ag-law-in-the-courts.html

Co-Tenancy or Joint Tenancy – Does it Really Matter?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/co-tenancy-or-joint-tenancy-does-it-really-matter.html

Year-End Legislation Contains Tax Extenders, Repealers, and Modifications to Retirement Provisions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/year-end-legislation-contains-tax-extenders-repealers-and-modification-to-retirement-provisions.html

INCOME TAX

Top 10 Developments in Ag Law and Tax for 2018 – Numbers 10 and 9

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-10-developments-in-ag-law-and-tax-for-2018-numbers-10-and-9.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2018 – Numbers 6, 5, and 4

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018-numbers-6-5-and-4.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2018 – Numbers 3, 2, and 1

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018-numbers-3-2-and-1.html

Tax Filing Season Update and Summer Seminar!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/tax-filing-season-update-and-summer-seminar.html

QBID Final Regulations on Aggregation and Rents – The Meaning for Farm and Ranch Businesses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/qbid-final-regulations-on-aggregation-and-rents-the-meaning-for-farm-and-ranch-businesses.html

The QBID Final Regulations – The “Rest of the Story”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/the-qbid-final-regulations-the-rest-of-the-story.html

Can a State Tax a Trust with No Contact with the State?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/can-a-state-tax-a-trust-with-no-contact-with-the-state.html

Tax Matters – Where Are We Now?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/tax-matters-where-are-we-now.html

New Developments on Exclusion of Employer-Provided Meals

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/new-development-on-exclusion-of-employer-provided-meals.html

Valuing Non-Cash Charitable Gifts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/valuing-non-cash-charitable-gifts.html

Passive Losses and Material Participation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/passive-losses-and-material-participation.html

Passive Losses and Real Estate Professionals

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/passive-losses-and-real-estate-professionals.html

Developments in Agricultural Law and Taxation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/developments-in-agricultural-law-and-taxation.html

Real Estate Professionals and Aggregation – The Passive Loss Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/real-estate-professionals-and-aggregation-the-passive-loss-rules.html

Sale of the Personal Residence After Death

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/sale-of-the-personal-residence-after-death.html

Cost Segregation Study – Do You Need One for Your Farm?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/cost-segregation-study-do-you-need-one-for-your-farm.html

Cost Segregation – Risk and Benefits

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/cost-segregation-risks-and-benefits.html

Permanent Conservation Easement Donation Transactions Find Their Way to the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/permanent-conservation-easement-donation-transactions-find-their-way-to-the-irs-dirty-dozen-list.html

Self-Rentals and the Passive Loss Rules

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/self-rentals-and-the-passive-loss-rules.html

More on Self-Rentals

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/more-on-self-rentals.html

Of Black-Holes, Tax Refunds, and Statutory Construction

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/of-black-holes-tax-refunds-and-statutory-construction.html

What Happened in Tax During Tax Season?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/what-happened-in-tax-during-tax-season.html

Cost Segregation and the Recapture Issue

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/cost-segregation-and-the-recapture-issue.html

S.E. Tax and Contract Production Income

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/se-tax-and-contract-production-income.html

Recent Developments in Farm and Ranch Business Planning

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/recent-developments-in-farm-and-ranch-business-planning.html

Ag Cooperatives and the QBID – Initial Guidance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/ag-cooperatives-and-the-qbid-initial-guidance.html

Wayfair Does Not Mean That a State Can Always Tax a Trust Beneficiary

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/wayfair-does-not-mean-that-a-state-can-always-tax-a-trust-beneficiary.html

Start Me Up! – Tax Treatment of Start-Up Expenses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/start-me-up-tax-treatment-of-start-up-expenses.html

More on Real Estate Exchanges

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/more-on-real-estate-exchanges.html

2019 Tax Planning for Midwest/Great Plains Farmers and Ranchers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/2019-tax-planning-for-midwestgreat-plains-farmers-and-ranchers.html

Tax Treatment of Settlements and Court Judgments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/tax-treatment-of-settlements-and-court-judgments.html

ESOPs and Ag Businesses – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/esops-and-ag-businesses-part-one.html 

Tax “Math” on Jury Verdicts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/tax-math-on-jury-verdicts.html

Kansas Revenue Department Takes Aggressive Position Against Remote Sellers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/kansas-revenue-department-take-aggressive-position-against-remote-sellers.html

Tax-Deferred Exchanges and Conservation Easements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/tax-deferred-exchanges-and-conservation-easements.html

Proper Handling of Breeding Fees

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/proper-handling-of-breeding-fees.html

Proper Tax Reporting of Commodity Wages

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/proper-tax-reporting-of-commodity-wages.html

Tax Consequences of Forgiving Installment Payment Debt

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/tax-consequences-of-forgiving-installment-payment-debt.html

Are Taxes Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/are-taxes-dischargeable-in-bankruptcy.html

Ag Law and Tax in the Courts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courts.html

Refund Claim Relief Due to Financial Disability

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/refund-claim-relief-due-to-financial-disability.html

Shareholder Loans and S Corporation Stock Basis

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/shareholder-loans-and-s-corporation-stock-basis.html

The Family Limited Partnership – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/the-family-limited-partnership-part-two.html

Hobby Losses Post-2017 and Pre-2026 – The Importance of Establishing a Profit Motive

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/hobby-losses-post-2017-and-pre-2026-the-importance-of-establishing-a-profit-motive.html

The Importance of Income Tax Basis “Step-Up” at Death

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/the-importance-of-income-tax-basis-step-up-at-death.html

Bad Debt Deduction

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/bad-debt-deduction.html

More on Cost Depletion – Bonus Payments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/more-on-cost-depletion-bonus-payments.html

Recapture – A Dirty Word in the Tax Code Lingo

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/recapture-a-dirty-word-in-tax-code-lingo.html

Does the Sale of Farmland Trigger Net Investment Income Tax?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/does-the-sale-of-farmland-trigger-net-investment-income-tax.html

Are Director Fees Subject to Self-Employment Tax?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/are-director-fees-subject-to-self-employment-tax.html

Are Windbreaks Depreciable?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/are-windbreaks-depreciable.html

Tax Issues Associated with Restructuring Credit Lines

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/tax-issues-associated-with-restructuring-credit-lines.html

Is a Tenancy-in-Common Interest Eligible for Like-Kind Exchange Treatment?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/is-a-tenancy-in-common-interest-eligible-for-like-kind-exchange-treatment.html

Year-End Legislation Contains Tax Extenders, Repealers, and Modifications to Retirement Provisions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/year-end-legislation-contains-tax-extenders-repealers-and-modification-to-retirement-provisions.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2019

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2019.html

INSURANCE

Prevented Planting Payments – Potential Legal Issues?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/prevented-planting-payments-potential-legal-issues.html

Ag Law in the Courts

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/ag-law-in-the-courts.html

REAL PROPERTY

 Negotiating Cell/Wireless Tower Agreements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/negotiating-cellwireless-tower-agreements.html

Selected Recent Cases Involving Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/selected-recent-cases-involving-agricultural-law.html

The Accommodation Doctrine – More Court Action

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/the-accommodation-doctrine-more-court-action.html

Defects in Real Estate Deeds – Will Time Cure All?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/defects-in-real-estate-deeds-will-time-cure-all.html

Is there a Common-Law Right to Hunt (and Fish) Your Own Land?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/is-there-a-common-law-right-to-hunt-and-fish-your-own-land.html

Legal Issues Associated with Abandoned Railways

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/legal-issues-associated-with-abandoned-railways.html

Public Trust vs. Private Rights – Where’s the Line?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/public-trust-vs-private-rights-wheres-the-line.html

Ag in the Courtroom

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/ag-in-the-courtroom.html

More on Real Estate Exchanges

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/more-on-real-estate-exchanges.html

How Does the Rule Against Perpetuities Apply in the Oil and Gas Context?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/how-does-the-rule-against-perpetuities-apply-in-the-oil-and-gas-context.html

Ag Law in the Courts

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/ag-law-in-the-courts.html

Cost Depletion of Minerals

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/cost-depletion-of-minerals.html

Co-Tenancy or Joint Tenancy – Does it Really Matter?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/11/co-tenancy-or-joint-tenancy-does-it-really-matter.html

“Slip Slidin’ Away” – The Right of Lateral and Subjacent Support

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/slip-slidin-away-the-right-of-lateral-and-subjacent-support.html

Is a Tenancy-in-Common Interest Eligible for Like-Kind Exchange Treatment?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/is-a-tenancy-in-common-interest-eligible-for-like-kind-exchange-treatment.html

REGULATORY LAW

Top 10 Developments in Ag Law and Tax for 2018 – Numbers 10 and 9

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-10-developments-in-ag-law-and-tax-for-2018-numbers-10-and-9.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2018 – Numbers 6, 5, and 4

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018-numbers-6-5-and-4.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2018 – Numbers 3, 2, and 1

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2018-numbers-3-2-and-1.html

Is There a Common-Law Right to Hunt (and Fish) Your Own Land?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/02/is-there-a-common-law-right-to-hunt-and-fish-your-own-land.html

Packers and Stockyards Act – Basic Provisions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/packers-and-stockyards-act-basic-provisions.html

Packers and Stockyards Act Provisions for Unpaid Cash Sellers of Livestock

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/packers-and-stockyards-act-provisions-for-unpaid-cash-sellers-of-livestock.html

More Recent Developments in Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/03/more-recent-developments-in-agricultural-law.html

Ag Antitrust – Is There a Crack in the Wall of the “Mighty-Mighty” (Illinois) Brick House?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/ag-antitrust-is-there-a-crack-in-the-wall-of-the-mighty-mighty-illinois-brick-house.html

Can Foreign Persons/Entities Own U.S. Agricultural Land?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/can-foreign-personsentities-own-us-agricultural-land.html

Prevented Planting Payments – Potential Legal Issues?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/prevented-planting-payments-potential-legal-issues.html

Eminent Domain and Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/eminent-domain-and-agriculture.html

Classification of Seasonal Ag Workers – Why It Matters

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/classification-of-seasonal-ag-workers-why-it-matters.html

Administrative Agency Deference – Little Help for Ag From the Supreme Court

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/06/administrative-agency-deference-little-help-for-ag-from-the-supreme-court.html

Regulation of Food Products

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/regulation-of-food-products.html

Ag Legal Issues in the Courts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/ag-legal-issues-in-the-courts.html

Kansas Revenue Department Takes Aggressive Position Against Remote Sellers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/kansas-revenue-department-take-aggressive-position-against-remote-sellers.html

Court Decision Illustrates USDA’s Swampbuster “Incompetence”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/court-decision-illustrates-usdas-swampbuster-incompetence.html

Ag Law and Tax in the Courts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/09/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courts.html

Regulatory Takings – Pursuing a Remedy

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/regulatory-takings-pursuing-a-remedy.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2019

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2019.html

SECURED TRANSACTIONS

Market Facilitation Program Pledged as Collateral – What are the Rights of a Lender?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/market-facilitation-program-payments-pledged-as-collateral-what-are-the-rights-of-a-lender.html

SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES

Summer 2019 Farm and Ranch Tax and Estate/Business Planning Seminar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/04/summer-2019-farm-and-ranch-tax-and-estatebusiness-planning-seminar.html

2019 National Ag Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conference in Steamboat Springs!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/05/2019-national-ag-taxestate-and-business-planning-conference-in-steamboat-springs.html

Summer Tax and Estate Planning Seminar!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/07/summer-tax-and-estate-planning-seminar.html

2020 National Summer Ag Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Seminar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/2020-national-summer-ag-income-taxestate-and-business-planning-seminar.html

Fall Seminars

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/fall-seminars.html

WATER LAW

The Accommodation Doctrine – More Court Action

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/01/the-accommodation-doctrine-more-court-action.html

Ag Legal Issues in the Courts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/08/ag-legal-issues-in-the-courts.html

Ag Law in the Courts

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/ag-law-in-the-courts.html

Regulating Existing Water Rights – How Far Can State Government Go?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/10/regulating-existing-water-rights-how-far-can-state-government-go.html

The Politics of Prior Appropriation – Is a Senior Right Really Senior?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/the-politics-of-prior-appropriation-is-a-senior-right-really-senior.html

Changing Water Right Usage

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2019/12/changing-water-right-usage.html

February 28, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 15, 2021

Prescribed Burning Legal Issues

Overview

The calendar indicates that the time for conducting open burns of agricultural land is approaching.  In the Great Plains (and also some areas of eastern Washington and Oregon), prescribed burning of pasture grass is a critical component of rangeland management.  It is an effective and affordable means of reversing and controlling the negative impacts of woody plant growth and its expansion that damages native grasslands.  It can also play a role in limiting wildfire risk.  But some landowners are reluctant to engage in prescribed (controlled) burns out of a concern for liability and casualty risks associated with escaped fire and smoke.  While some states in the Great Plains have “burn bans,” agricultural-related burns are typically not prohibited during such bans. 

The legal rules, regulations and liability risks associated with prescribed burning of agricultural lands – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Regulations – The Kansas Approach

The states that comprise the Great Plains have regulations governing the conduct of prescribed burns. The regulations among the states have commonalities, but there are distinctions from state-to-state.  In addition, in some states, open burning bans can be imposed in the interest of public safety but exempt agricultural-related burns.  For purposes of this article, I will look at the Kansas regulations. 

Kansas administrative regulations set forth the rules for conducting prescribed burns.  K.A.R. §28-19-645 et seq. In general, open burning is prohibited unless an exception applies.  K.A.R. §645. One of those exceptions is for open burning of agricultural lands that is done in accordance with the regulations.  K.A.R. §28-19-647(a)(3). Under that exception, open burning of vegetation such as grass, woody species, crop residue, and other dry plant growth for the purpose of crop, range, pasture, wildlife or watershed management is exempt from the general prohibition on open burning.  K.A.R. §28-19-648(a).  However, a prescribed burn of agricultural land must be conducted within certain guidelines.  For instance, before a burn is started the local fire control authority with jurisdiction in the area must be notified unless local government has specified that notification is not required.  K.A.R. §28-19-648(a)(1).  Also, the burn cannot create a traffic hazard.  If wind conditions might result in smoke blowing toward a public roadway, notice must be given to the highway patrol, county sheriff or local traffic officials before the burn is started. K.A.R. §28-19-648(a)(2).  Likewise, a burn cannot create a visibility safety hazard for airplanes that utilize a nearby airport. K.A.R. §28-19-648(a)(3).  If such a problem could potentially result, notice must be given to the airport officials before the burn begins.  Id.  In all situations, the burn must be supervised until the fire is extinguished. K.A.R. §28-19-648(a)(4).  Also, the Kansas burn regulations allow local jurisdictions to adopt more restrictive ordinance or resolutions governing prescribed burns of agricultural land.  K.A.R. §28-19-648(b). 

Kansas regulations also specify that the open burning of vegetation and wood waste, structures, or any other materials on any premises during the month of April is prohibited in the counties of  Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cowley, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Johnson, Lyon, Marion, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley, Sedgwick, Wabaunsee, and Wyandotte counties.  K.A.R. §28-19-645a(a). This is the Flint Hills region of Kansas – some of the most abundant pasture ground in the United States.  However, certain activities are allowed in these counties during April.  For instance, the prescribed burning of agricultural land for the purposes of range or pasture management is allowed, as is the burning of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land that is conducted in accordance with the requirements for a prescribed burn of agricultural land.  K.A.R. §28-19-645a(b)(1).  Open burning during April is also allowed in these counties if it is carried out on a residential premise containing five or less dwelling units and incidental to the normal habitation of the dwelling units, unless prohibited by any local authority with jurisdiction over the premises.  K.A.R. §28-19-645a(b)(2).    Also, open burning is allowed for cooking or ceremonial purposes, on public or private lands regularly used for recreational purposes. Id. 

Non-agricultural open burning activities must meet certain other requirements including a showing that the open burning is necessary, in the public interest and not otherwise prohibit by any local government or fire authority.  K.A.R. §28-19-647(b).   These types of open burning activities must also be conducted pursuant to an approved written request to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that details how the burn will be conducted, the parameters of the activity, and the location of public roadways within 1,000 feet as well as occupied dwelling within that same distance. K.A.R. §§28-19-647(d)(2)(E-F).  The open burning of heavy oils, tires and tarpaper and other heavy smoke-producing material is not permitted.  K.A.R. §28-19-647(e)(2).  A burn is not to be started at night (two hours before sunset until one hour after sunrise) and material is not to be added to a fire after two hours before sunset.  A burn is not to be conducted during foggy conditions or when wind speed is less than five miles-per-hour or greater than 15 miles-per-hour. K.A.R. §§28-19-647(e)(3-5).   

Legal Liability Principles

As noted above, Kansas regulations require that an agricultural prescribed burn is to be supervised until the fire is extinguished. But sometimes a fire will get out of control even after it is believed to be extinguished and burn an adjacent property resulting in property damage.  How does the law sort out liability in such a situation? 

Negligence.  In general, as applied to agricultural burning activities, the law applies one of three possible principles.  One principle is that of negligence and the other is that of strict liability.  The negligence system is a fault system.  For a person to be deemed legally negligent, certain conditions must exist. These conditions can be thought of as links in a chain. Each condition must be present before a finding of negligence can be obtained.  The first condition is that of a legal duty giving rise to a standard of care.  How is duty measured?  To be liable for a negligent tort, the defendant's conduct must have fallen below that of a “reasonable and prudent person” under the circumstances.  A reasonable and prudent person is what a jury has in mind when they measure an individual's conduct in retrospect - after the fact, when the case is in court. The conduct of a particular tortfeasor (the one causing the tort) who is not held out as a professional is compared with the mythical standard of conduct of the reasonable and prudent person in terms of judgment, knowledge, perception, experience, skill, physical, mental and emotional characteristics as well as age and sanity. For those held out as having the knowledge, skill, experience or education of a professional, the standard of care reflects those factors. For example, the standard applicable to a professional veterinarian in diagnosing or treating animals is what a reasonable and prudent veterinarian would have done under the circumstances, not what a reasonable and prudent person would do.

If a legal duty exists, it is necessary to determine whether the defendant's conduct fell short of the conduct of a “reasonable and prudent person (or professional) under the circumstances.”  This is called a breach, and is the second element of a negligent tort case.

Once a legal duty and breach of that duty are shown to exist, a causal connection (the third element) must be established between the defendant's act and (the fourth element) the plaintiff's injuries (whether to person or property). In other words, the resulting harm to the plaintiff must have been a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant's conduct at the time the conduct occurred. Reasonable foreseeability is the essence of causality (also known as proximate cause). For example, assume that a Kansas rancher has followed all of the rules to prepare for and conduct a prescribed pasture burn. After conducting the burn, the rancher banks the fire up and leaves it in what he thinks is a fairly safe condition before heading to the house for lunch.  Over lunch, the wind picks up and spreads the fire to an adjoining tract of real estate.  If the burning of the neighbor's property was not reasonably foreseeable, an action for negligence will likely not be successful.  However, if the wind was at a high velocity before lunch and all adjoining property was extremely dry, it probably was foreseeable that the fire would escape and burn a neighboring landowner's tract.

Note:  For a plaintiff to prevail in a negligence-type tort case, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof to all of the elements by a preponderance of the evidence (just over 50 percent). 

Intentional interference with real property.  Another legal principle that can apply in to open burning activities, is intentional interference with real property.  This principle is closely related to trespass.  Trespass is the unlawful or unauthorized entry upon another person's land that interferes with that person's exclusive possession or ownership of the land.   At its most basic level, an intentional trespass is the intrusion on to another person's land without the owner's consent.  However, many other types of physical invasions that cause injury to an owner's possessory rights abound in agriculture.  These types of trespass include dynamite blasting, flooding with water or residue from oil and gas drilling operations, erection of an encroaching fence, unauthorized grazing of cattle, raising of crops and cutting timber on another's land without authorization, and prescribed agricultural burning activities, among other things. 

In general, the privilege of an owner or possessor of land to utilize the land and exploit its potential natural resources is only a qualified privilege.  The owner or possessor must exercise reasonable care in conducting operations on the land so as to avoid injury to the possessory rights of neighboring landowners.  The owner or possessor must exercise reasonable care in conducting operations on the land so as to avoid injury to the possessory rights of neighboring landowners.  For example, if a prescribed burn of a pasture results in heavy smoke passing onto an adjoining property accompanied with a long-term residual smoke odor, the party conducting the burn could be held legally responsible for damages under the theory of intentional interference with real property even if the burn was conducted in accordance with applicable state regulations.  See, e.g., Ream v. Keen, 112 Ore. App. 197, 828 P.2d 1038 (1992), aff’d, 314 Ore. 370, 838 P.2d 1073 (Ore. 1992).

Strict liability.  Some activities are deemed to be so dangerous that a showing of negligence is not required to obtain a recovery.  Under a strict liability approach, the defendant is liable for injuries caused by the defendant's actions, even if the defendant was not negligent in any way or did not intend to injure the plaintiff. In general, those situations reserved for resolution under a strict liability approach involve those activities that are highly dangerous.  When these activities are engaged in, the defendant must be prepared to pay for all resulting consequences, regardless of the legal fault.

Kansas liability rule for prescribed burning.  A strict liability rule could apply to a prescribed burn of agricultural land if the activity were to be construed as an inherently (e.g., extremely) dangerous activity.    In Kansas, however, farmers and ranchers have a right to set controlled fires on their property for agricultural purposes and will not be liable for damages resulting if the fire is set and managed with ordinary care and prudence, depending on the conditions present.  See, e.g., Koger v. Ferrin, 23 Kan. App. 2d 47, 926 P.2d 680 (Kan. Ct. App. 1996).  In Kansas, at least at the present time, the courts have determined that there is no compelling argument for imposing strict liability on a property owner for damages resulting from a prescribed burn of agricultural land.  Id. 

Note:  The liability rule applied in Texas and Oklahoma is also negligence and not strict liability.  In these states, carefully following applicable prescribed burning regulations goes along way to defeating a lawsuit claiming that damages from a prescribed burn were the result of negligence. 

Certainly, for prescribed burns of agricultural land in Kansas, the regulations applicable to non-agricultural burns establish a good roadmap for establishing that a burn was conducted in a non-negligent manner.  Following those requirements could prove valuable in protecting against a damage liability claim if the fire gets out of control and damages adjacent property.

Conclusion

Prescribed burning of agricultural land in Kansas and elsewhere in the Great Plains is an excellent range management tool.  Practiced properly the ecological and economic benefits to the landowner can be substantial.  But a burn must be conducted within the framework of existing regulations with an eye toward the legal rule governing any potential liability. 

February 15, 2021 in Civil Liabilities, Real Property, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ag Law and Taxation 2020 Bibliography

Overview

Today's post is a bibliography of my ag law and tax blog articles of 2020.  Many of you have requested that I provide something like this to make it easier to find the articles.  If possible, I will do the same for articles from prior years.  The library of content is piling up - I have written more than 500 detailed articles for the blog over the last four and one-half years.

Cataloging the 2020 ag law and tax blog articles - it's the topic of today's post.

BANKRUPTCY

Ag Law and Tax in the Courts – Bankruptcy Debt Discharge; Aerial Application of Chemicals; Start-Up Expenses and Lying as Protected Speech

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courts-bankruptcy-debt-discharge-aerial-application-of-chemicals-start-up-expe.html

Unique, But Important Tax Issues – “Claim of Right;” Passive Loss Grouping; and Bankruptcy Taxation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/unique-but-important-tax-issues-claim-of-right-passive-loss-grouping-and-bankruptcy-taxation.html

Disaster/Emergency Legislation – Summary of Provisions Related to Loan Relief; Small Business and Bankruptcy

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/disasteremergency-legislation-summary-of-provisions-related-to-loan-relief-small-business-and-bankruptcy.html

Retirement-Related Provisions of the CARES Act

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/retirement-related-provisions-of-the-cares-act.html

Farm Bankruptcy – “Stripping, “Claw-Black,” and the Tax Collecting Authorities

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/farm-bankruptcy-stripping-claw-back-and-the-tax-collecting-authorities.html

SBA Says Farmers in Chapter 12 Ineligible for PPP Loans

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/sba-says-farmers-in-chapter-12-ineligible-for-ppp-loans.html

The “Cramdown” Interest Rate in Chapter 12 Bankruptcy

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/the-cramdown-interest-rate-in-chapter-12-bankruptcy.html

Bankruptcy and the Preferential Payment Rule

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/12/bankruptcy-and-the-preferential-payment-rule.html

BUSINESS PLANNING

Partnership Tax Ponderings – Flow-Through and Basis

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/partnership-tax-ponderings-flow-through-and-basis.html

Farm and Ranch Estate and Business Planning in 2020 (Through 2025)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/farm-and-ranch-estate-and-business-planning-in-2020-through-2025.html

Transitioning the Farm or Ranch – Stock Redemption

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/transitioning-the-farm-or-ranch-stock-redemption.html

Estate and Business Planning for the Farm and Ranch Family – Use of the LLC (Part 1)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/estate-and-business-planning-for-the-farm-and-ranch-family-use-of-the-llc-part-1.html

Estate and Business Planning for the Farm and Ranch Family – Use of the LLC (Part 2)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/estate-and-business-planning-for-the-farm-and-ranch-family-use-of-the-llc-part-two.html

The Use of the LLC for the Farm or Ranch Business – Practical Application

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/08/the-use-of-the-llc-for-the-farm-or-ranch-business-practical-application.html

CIVIL LIABILITIES

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments from 2019 (Numbers 10 and 9)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-from-2019-numbers-10-and-9.html

Ag Law in the Courts – Feedlots; Dicamba Drift; and Inadvertent Disinheritance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/ag-law-in-the-courts-feedlots-dicamba-drift-and-inadvertent-disinheritance.html

Ag Law and Tax in the Courts – Bankruptcy Debt Discharge; Aerial Application of Chemicals; Start-Up Expenses and Lying as Protected Speech

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courts-bankruptcy-debt-discharge-aerial-application-of-chemicals-start-up-expe.html

Dicamba, Peaches and a Defective Ferrari; What’s the Connection?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/dicamba-peaches-and-a-defective-ferrari-whats-the-connection.html

Liability for Injuries Associated with Horses (and Other Farm Animals)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/liability-for-injuries-associated-with-horses-and-other-farm-animals.html

Issues with Noxious (and Other) Weeds and Seeds

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/issues-with-noxious-and-other-weeds-and-seeds.html

Of Nuisance, Overtime and Firearms – Potpourri of Ag Law Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/of-nuisance-overtime-and-firearms-potpourri-of-ag-law-developments.html

CONTRACTS

The Statute of Frauds and Sales of Goods

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/the-statute-of-frauds-and-sales-of-goods.html

Disrupted Economic Activity and Force Majeure – Avoiding Contractual Obligations in Time of Pandemic

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/disrupted-economic-activity-and-force-majeure-avoiding-contractual-obligations-in-time-of-pandemic.html

Is it a Farm Lease or Not? – And Why it Might Matter

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/is-it-a-farm-lease-or-not-and-why-it-might-matter.html

COOPERATIVES

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2019 (Numbers 2 and 1)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2019-numbers-2-and-1.html

Concentrated Ag Markets – Possible Producer Response?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/concentrated-ag-markets-possible-producer-response.html

CRIMINAL LIABILITIES

Is an Abandoned Farmhouse a “Dwelling”?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/is-an-abandoned-farmhouse-a-dwelling.html

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2019 (Numbers 8 and 7)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2019-numbers-8-and-7.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2019 (Numbers 6 and 5)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2019-numbers-six-and-five.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2019 (Numbers 4 and 3)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2019-numbers-4-and-3.html

Clean Water Act – Compliance Orders and “Normal Farming Activities”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/clean-water-act-compliance-orders-and-normal-farming-activities.html

Groundwater Discharges of “Pollutants” and “Functional Equivalency”

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/groundwater-discharges-of-pollutants-and-functional-equivalency.html

NRCS Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands Conservation Final Rule – Clearer Guidance for Farmers or Erosion of Property Rights? – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/nrcs-highly-erodible-land-and-wetlands-conservation-final-rule-clearer-guidance-for-farmers-or-erosi.html

NRCS Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands Conservation Final Rule – Clearer Guidance for Farmers or Erosion of Property Rights? – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/nrcs-highly-erodible-land-and-wetlands-conservation-final-rule-clearer-guidance-for-farmers-or-loss-of-property-rights.html

NRCS Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands Conservation Final Rule – Clearer Guidance for Farmers or Erosion of Property Rights? – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/nrcs-highly-erodible-land-and-wetlands-conservation-final-rule-clearer-guidance-for-farmers-or-loss-of-property-rights-1.html

The Prior Converted Cropland Exception – More Troubles Ahead?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/the-prior-converted-cropland-exception-more-troubles-ahead.html

TMDL Requirements – The EPA’s Federalization of Agriculture

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/tmdl-requirements-.html

Eminent Domain and “Seriously Misleading” Financing Statements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/eminent-domain-and-seriously-misleading-financing-statements.html

 

ESTATE PLANNING

Ag Law in the Courts – Feedlots; Dicamba Drift; and Inadvertent Disinheritance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/ag-law-in-the-courts-feedlots-dicamba-drift-and-inadvertent-disinheritance.html

Recent Developments Involving Estates and Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/recent-developments-involving-decedents-estates-and-trusts.html

What is a “Trade or Business” For Purposes of Installment Payment of Federal Estate Tax?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/what-is-a-trade-or-business-for-purposes-of-installment-payment-of-federal-estate-tax.html

Alternate Valuation – Useful Estate Tax Valuation Provision

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/alternate-valuation-useful-estate-tax-valuation-provision.html

Farm and Ranch Estate and Business Planning in 2020 (Through 2025)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/farm-and-ranch-estate-and-business-planning-in-2020-through-2025.html

Retirement-Related Provisions of the CARES Act

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/retirement-related-provisions-of-the-cares-act.html

Are Advances to Children Loans or Gifts?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/are-advances-to-children-loans-or-gifts.html

Tax Issues Associated with Options in Wills and Trusts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/tax-issues-associated-with-options-in-wills-and-trusts.html

Valuing Farm Chattels and Marketing Rights of Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/valuing-farm-chattels-and-marketing-rights-of-farmers.html

Is it a Gift or Not a Gift? That is the Question

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/is-it-a-gift-or-not-a-gift-that-is-the-question.html

Does a Discretionary Trust Remove Fiduciary Duties a Trustee Owes Beneficiaries?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/does-a-discretionary-trust-remove-fiduciary-duties-a-trustee-owes-beneficiaries.html

Can I Write my Own Will? Should I?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/can-i-write-my-own-will-should-i.html

Income Taxation of Trusts – New Regulations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/income-taxation-of-trusts.html

Merging a Revocable Trust at Death with an Estate – Tax Consequences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/merging-a-revocable-trust-at-death-with-an-estate-tax-consequences.html

When is Transferred Property Pulled Back into the Estate at Death?  Be on Your Bongard!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/when-is-transferred-property-pulled-back-into-the-estate-at-death-be-on-your-bongard.html

‘Tis the Season for Giving, But When is a Transfer a Gift?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/12/tis-the-season-for-giving-but-when-is-a-transfer-a-gift.html

 

INCOME TAX

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2019 (Numbers 2 and 1)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2019-numbers-2-and-1.html

Does the Penalty Relief for a “Small Partnership” Still Apply?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/does-the-penalty-relief-for-a-small-partnership-still-apply.html

Substantiation – The Key to Tax Deductions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/substantiation-the-key-to-tax-deductions.html

Ag Law and Tax in the Courts – Bankruptcy Debt Discharge; Aerial Application of Chemicals; Start-Up Expenses and Lying as Protected Speech

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courts-bankruptcy-debt-discharge-aerial-application-of-chemicals-start-up-expe.html

Unique, But Important Tax Issues – “Claim of Right;” Passive Loss Grouping; and Bankruptcy Taxation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/unique-but-important-tax-issues-claim-of-right-passive-loss-grouping-and-bankruptcy-taxation.html

Conservation Easements and the Perpetuity Requirement

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/conservation-easements-and-the-perpetuity-requirement.html

Tax Treatment Upon Death of Livestock

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/tax-treatment-upon-death-of-livestock.html

What is a “Trade or Business” For Purposes of I.R.C. §199A?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/what-is-a-trade-or-business-for-purposes-of-irc-199a.html

Tax Treatment of Meals and Entertainment

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/tax-treatment-of-meals-and-entertainment.html

Farm NOLs Post-2017

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/farm-nols-post-2017.html

Disaster/Emergency Legislation – Summary of Provisions Related to Loan Relief; Small Business and Bankruptcy

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/disasteremergency-legislation-summary-of-provisions-related-to-loan-relief-small-business-and-bankruptcy.html

Retirement-Related Provisions of the CARES Act

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/retirement-related-provisions-of-the-cares-act.html

Income Tax-Related Provisions of Emergency Relief Legislation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/income-tax-related-provisions-of-emergency-relief-legislation.html

The Paycheck Protection Program – Still in Need of Clarity

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/the-paycheck-protection-program-still-in-need-of-clarity.html

Solar “Farms” and The Associated Tax Credit

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/solar-farms-and-the-associated-tax-credit.html

Obtaining Deferral for Non-Deferred Aspects of an I.R.C. §1031 Exchange

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/obtaining-deferral-for-non-deferred-aspects-of-an-irc-1031-exchange-.html

Conservation Easements – The Perpetuity Requirement and Extinguishment

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/conservation-easements-the-perpetuity-requirement-and-extinguishment.html

PPP and PATC Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/ppp-and-patc-developments.html

How Many Audit “Bites” of the Same Apple Does IRS Get?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/how-many-audit-bites-of-the-same-apple-does-irs-get.html

More Developments Concerning Conservation Easements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/more-developments-concerning-conservation-easements.html

Imputation – When Can an Agent’s Activity Count?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/imputation-when-can-an-agents-activity-count.html

Exotic Game Activities and the Tax Code

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/08/exotic-game-activities-and-the-tax-code.html

Demolishing Farm Buildings and Structures – Any Tax Benefit?

         https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/08/demolishing-farm-buildings-and-structures-any-tax-benefit.html

Tax Incentives for Exported Ag Products

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/08/tax-incentives-for-exported-ag-products.html

Deducting Business Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/deducting-business-interest.html

Recent Tax Court Opinions Make Key Point on S Corporations and Meals/Entertainment Deductions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/recent-tax-court-opinions-make-key-points-on-s-corporations-and-mealsentertainment-deductions.html

Income Taxation of Trusts – New Regulations

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/income-taxation-of-trusts.html

Accrual Accounting – When Can a Deduction Be Claimed?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/accrual-accounting-when-can-a-deduction-be-claimed.html

Farmland Lease Income – Proper Tax Reporting

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/farmland-lease-income-proper-tax-reporting.html

Merging a Revocable Trust at Death with an Estate – Tax Consequences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/merging-a-revocable-trust-at-death-with-an-estate-tax-consequences.html

The Use of Deferred Payment Contracts – Specifics Matter

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/the-use-of-deferred-payment-contracts-specific-matters.html

Is Real Estate Held in Trust Eligible for I.R.C. §1031 Exchange Treatment?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/is-real-estate-held-in-trust-eligible-for-irc-1031-exchange-treatment.html

 

INSURANCE

Recent Court Developments of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/recent-court-developments-of-interest.html

PUBLICATIONS

Principles of Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/principles-of-agricultural-law.html

 

REAL PROPERTY

Signing and Delivery

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/deed-effectiveness-signing-and-delivery.html

Abandoned Railways and Issues for Adjacent Landowners

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/abandoned-railways-and-issues-for-adjacent-landowners.html

Obtaining Deferral for Non-Deferred Aspects of an I.R.C. §1031 Exchange

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/obtaining-deferral-for-non-deferred-aspects-of-an-irc-1031-exchange-.html

Are Dinosaur Fossils Minerals?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/are-dinosaur-fossils-minerals.html

Real Estate Concepts Involved in Recent Cases

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/real-estate-concepts-involved-in-recent-cases.html

Is it a Farm Lease or Not? – And Why it Might Matter

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/is-it-a-farm-lease-or-not-and-why-it-might-matter.html

 

REGULATORY LAW

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments from 2019 (Numbers 10 and 9)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-from-2019-numbers-10-and-9.html

Top Ten Agricultural Law and Tax Developments from 2019 (Number 8 and 7)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2019-numbers-8-and-7.html

Ag Law and Tax in the Courts – Bankruptcy Debt Discharge; Aerial Application of Chemicals; Start-Up Expenses and Lying as Protected Speech

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courts-bankruptcy-debt-discharge-aerial-application-of-chemicals-start-up-expe.html

Hemp Production – Regulation and Economics

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/hemp-production-regulation-and-economics.html

DOJ to Investigate Meatpackers – What’s it All About?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/doj-to-investigate-meatpackers-whats-it-all-about.html

Dicamba Registrations Cancelled – Or Are They?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/dicamba-registrations-cancelled-or-are-they.html

What Does a County Commissioner (Supervisor) Need to Know?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/06/what-does-a-county-commissioner-supervisor-need-to-know.html

The Supreme Court’s DACA Opinion and the Impact on Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/the-supreme-courts-daca-opinion-and-the-impact-on-agriculture.html

Right-to-Farm Law Headed to the SCOTUS?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/08/right-to-farm-law-headed-to-the-scotus.html

The Public Trust Doctrine – A Camel’s Nose Under Agriculture’s Tent?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/the-public-trust-doctrine-a-camels-nose-under-agricultures-tent.html

Roadkill – It’s What’s for Dinner (Reprise)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/roadkill-its-whats-for-dinner-reprise.html

Beef May be for Dinner, but Where’s It From?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/beef-may-be-for-dinner-but-wheres-it-from.html

Of Nuisance, Overtime and Firearms – Potpourri of Ag Law Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/of-nuisance-overtime-and-firearms-potpourri-of-ag-law-developments.html

What Farm Records and Information Are Protected from a FOIA Request?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/12/what-farm-records-and-information-are-protected-from-a-foia-request.html

Can One State Dictate Agricultural Practices in Other States?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/12/can-one-state-dictate-agricultural-practices-in-other-states.html

SECURED TRANSACTIONS

Family Farming Arrangements and Liens; And, What’s a Name Worth?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/family-farming-arrangements-and-liens-and-whats-a-name-worth.html

Conflicting Interests in Stored Grain

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/conflicting-interests-in-stored-grain.html

Eminent Domain and “Seriously Misleading” Financing Statement

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/10/eminent-domain-and-seriously-misleading-financing-statements.html

 

SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES

Summer 2020 Farm Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/summer-2020-farm-income-taxestate-and-business-planning-conference.html

Registration Open for Summer Ag Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Seminar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/registration-open-for-summer-ag-income-taxestate-and-business-planning-seminar.html

 

Summer 2020 – National Farm Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/summer-2020-national-farm-income-taxestate-and-business-planning-conference.html

Year-End CPE/CLE – Six More to Go

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/12/year-end-cpecle-six-more-to-go.html

2021 Summer National Farm and Ranch Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/12/2021-summer-national-farm-income-taxestate-business-planning-conference.html

WATER LAW

Principles of Agricultural Law

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/01/principles-of-agricultural-law.html

MISCELLANEOUS

More “Happenings” in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/02/more-happenings-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

Recent Cases of Interest

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/recent-cases-of-interest.html

More Selected Caselaw Developments of Relevance to Ag Producers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/03/more-selected-caselaw-developments-of-relevance-to-ag-producers.html

Court Developments of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/04/court-developments-of-interest.html

Ag Law and Tax Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/05/ag-law-and-tax-developments.html

Recent Court Developments of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/07/recent-court-developments-of-interest.html

Court Developments in Agricultural Law and Taxation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/08/court-developments-in-agricultural-law-and-taxation.html

Ag Law and Tax in the Courtroom

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/ag-law-and-tax-in-the-courtroom.html

Recent Tax Cases of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/09/recent-tax-cases-of-interest.html

Ag and Tax in the Courts

 https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/ag-and-tax-in-the-courts.html

Of Nuisance, Overtime and Firearms – Potpourri of Ag Law Developments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/11/of-nuisance-overtime-and-firearms-potpourri-of-ag-law-developments.html

Bankruptcy Happenings

            https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2020/12/bankruptcy-happenings.html

January 20, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Agricultural Law Online!

Overview

For the Spring 2021 academic semester, Kansas State University will be offering my Agricultural Law and Economics course online. No matter where you are located, you can enroll in the course and participate in it as if you were present with the students in the on-campus classroom.

Details of this spring semester’s online Ag Law course – that’s the topic of today’s post.

Course Coverage

The course provides a broad overview of many of the issues that a farmer, rancher, rural landowner, ag lender or other agribusiness will encounter on a daily basis. As a result, the course looks at contract issues for the purchase and sale of agricultural goods; the peril of oral contracts; the distinction between a lease and a contract (and why the distinction matters); and the key components of a farm lease, hunting lease, wind energy lease, oil and gas lease, and other types of common agricultural contractual matters. What are the rules surrounding ag goods purchased at auction?

Ag financing situations are also covered – what it takes to provide security to a lender when financing the purchase of personal property to be used in the farming business. In addition, the unique rules surrounding farm bankruptcy is covered, including the unique tax treatment provided to a farmer in Chapter 12 bankruptcy.

Of course, farm income tax is an important part of the course. Tax planning is perhaps the most important aspect of the farming business that every-day decisions have an impact on and are influenced by. As readers of this blog know well, farm tax issues are numerous and special rules apply in many instances. The new tax law impacts many areas of farm income tax.

Real property legal issues are also prevalent and are addressed in the course. The key elements of an installment land contract are covered, as well as legal issues associated with farm leases. Various types of interests in real estate are explained – easements; licenses; profits, fee simples, remainders, etc. Like-kind exchange rules are also covered as are the special tax rules (at the state level) that apply to farm real estate.

A big issue for some farmers and ranchers concerns abandoned railways, and those issues are covered in the course. What if an existing fence is not on the property line?

Farm estate and business planning is also a significant emphasis of the course. What’s the appropriate estate plan for a farm and ranch family? How should the farming business be structured? Should multiple entities be used? Why does it matter? These questions, and more, are addressed.

Agricultural cooperatives are important for the marketing of agricultural commodities. How a cooperative is structured and works and the special rules that apply are also discussed.

Because much agricultural property is out in the open, that means that personal liability rules come into play with respect to people that come onto the property or use farm property in the scope of their employment. What are the rules that apply in those situations? What about liability rules associated with genetically modified products? Ag chemicals also pose potential liability issues, as do improperly maintained fences? What about defective ag seed or purchased livestock that turns out to not live up to representations? These issues, and more, are covered in the scope of discussing civil liabilities.

Sometimes farmers and ranchers find themselves in violation of criminal laws. What are those common situations? What are the rules that apply? We will get into those issue too.

Water law is a very big issue, especially in the western two-thirds of the United States. We will survey the rules surrounding the allocation of surface water and ground water to agricultural operations.

Ag seems to always be in the midst of many environmental laws – the “Clean Water Rule” is just one of those that has been high-profile in recent years. We will talk about the environmental rules governing air, land, and water quality as they apply to farmers, ranchers and rural landowners.

Finally, we will address the federal (and state) administrative state and its rules that apply to farming operations. Not only will federal farm programs be addressed, but we will also look at other major federal regulations that apply to farmers and ranchers.

Further Information and How to Register

Information about the course and how to register is available here:  https://www.enrole.com/ksu/jsp/session.jsp?sessionId=442107&courseId=AGLAW&categoryId=ROOT

You can also find information about the text for the course at the following link:  https://washburnlaw.edu/practicalexperience/agriculturallaw/waltr/principlesofagriculturallaw/index.html

If you are an undergraduate student at an institution other than Kansas State, you should be able to enroll in this course and have it count as credit towards your degree at your institution.  Consult with your academic advisor to see how Ag Law and Economics will transfer and align with your degree completion goals.

If you have questions, you can contact me directly, or submit your questions to the KSU Global Campus staff at the link provided above.

I hope to see you in class beginning on January 26!

January 17, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 11, 2021

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Three

No. 5 – Dicamba Drift Damages

The Issue

Numerous cases have been filed in recent years alleging damage to soybean crops as a result of dicamba drift.  However, one significant case has involved alleged dicamba drift damage to a peach crop.  In 2019, the federal trial court judge hearing the case allowed much of the case to go to the jury.  In early 2020, the jury returned a $265 million judgment against Monsanto/Bayer and BASF.  $15 million of that amount was to compensate the peach farmer.  $250 million was punitive damages.  Throughout 2020, the litigation continued with the courts addressing the whether the allocation of damages was proper and reasonable. 

Dicamba Drift, Peaches and Calculation of Damages

The plaintiff claimed that his peach orchard was destroyed after the defendants (Monsanto and BASF) conspired to develop and market dicamba-tolerant seeds and dicamba-based herbicides. The plaintiff claimed that the damage to the peaches occurred when dicamba drifted from application to neighboring fields. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants released its dicamba-tolerant seed with no corresponding dicamba herbicide that could be safely applied. As a result, farmers illegally sprayed an old formulation of dicamba herbicide that was unapproved for in-crop, over-the-top, use and was "volatile," or prone to drift.

While many cases had previously been filed on the dicamba drift issue, the plaintiff did not join the other litigation because it focused on damages to soybean crops. Monsanto moved to dismiss the claims for failure to warn; negligent training; violation of the Missouri Crop Protection Act; civil conspiracy; and joint liability for punitive damages. BASF moved to dismiss those same counts except the claims for failure to warn. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss in part. Monsanto argued that the failure to warn claims were preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act ("FIFRA"), but the plaintiff claimed that no warning would have prevented the damage to the peaches. The trial court determined that the plaintiff had adequately plead the claim and denied the motion to dismiss this claim. Both Monsanto and BASF moved to dismiss the negligent training claim, but the trial court refused to do so. However, the trial court did dismiss the claims based on the Missouri Crop Protection Act, noting that civil actions under this act are limited to “field crops” which did not include peaches. The trial court did not dismiss the civil conspiracy claim based on concerted action by agreement, but did dismiss the aiding and abetting portion of the claim because that cause of action is no recognized under Missouri tort law.

The parties agreed to a separate jury determination of punitive damages for each defendant. Bader Farms, Inc. v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. MDL No. 1:18md2820-SNLJ, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114302 (E.D. Mo. July 10, 2019). At the jury trial, the jury found that Monsanto had negligently designed or failed to warn for 2015 and 2016 and that both defendants had done so for 2017 to the present. The jury awarded the plaintiff $15 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages against Monsanto for 2015 and 2016. The jury also found that the defendants were acting in a joint venture and in a conspiracy. The plaintiff submitted a proposed judgment that both defendants are responsible for the $250 million punitive damages award. BASF objected, but the trial court found the defendants jointly liable for the full verdict in light of the jury’s finding that the defendants were in a joint venture. Bader Farms, Inc. v. Monsanto Co., et al., MDL No. 1:18-md-02820-SNJL, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34340 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 28, 2020). BASF then moved for a judgment as a matter of law on punitive damages or motion for a new trial or remittitur (e.g., asking the court to reduce the damage award), and Monsanto moved for a judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. The trial court, however, found both defendants jointly liable, although the court lowered the punitive damages to $60 million after determining a lack of actual malice.

The trial court did uphold the $15 million compensatory damage award upon finding that the correct standard under Missouri law was applied to the farm’s damages. Bader Farms, Inc. v. Monsanto Co, et al., MDL No. 1:18md2820-SNLJ, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 221420 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 25, 2020). The defendants filed a notice of appeal on December 22, 2020.

No. 4 – Groundwater Discharges and Functional Equivalency

The Issue

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is required for an “addition” of any “pollutant” from a “point source” into the “navigable waters of the United States” (WOTUS).  33 U.S.C. §1362(12)Excluded are agricultural stormwater discharges and return flows from irrigated agriculture.  33 U.S.C. §1362(14).  Clearly, a discharge directly into a WOTUS is covered. A point source of pollution is that which comes from a discernible, confined and discrete conveyance such as a pipe, ditch or well. 

But, is an NPDES permit necessary if the discharge is directly into groundwater which then seeps its way to a WOTUS in a diffused manner?  Are indirect discharges from groundwater into a WOTUS covered?   If so, does that mean that farmland drainage tile is subject to the CWA and an NPDES discharge permit is required?  1n the 48 years of the CWA, the federal government has never formally taken that position, instead leaving the matter up to the states.  The issue is a big one for agriculture.  In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue.

Ninth Circuit Decision

In 2018, three different U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal decided cases on the discharge from groundwater issue.  One of those cases was heard by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  In Hawai’i Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui, 881 F.3d 754 (9th Cir. 2018), the defendant owned and operated four wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility (LWRF). Although constructed initially to serve as a backup disposal method for water reclamation, the wells became the defendant’s primary means of effluent disposal into groundwater and, ultimately, the Pacific Ocean.  The defendant injected approximately 3 to 5 million gallons of treated wastewater per day into the groundwater via its wells.  The wastewater seeped through the groundwater for about one-half of a mile until it reached the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the seepage into the Pacific from the point-source wells one-half mile away was “functionally one into navigable water,” and that a permit was required because the “pollutants are fairly traceable from the point source to a navigable water.”

EPA Reaction

After the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion, the EPA, on February 20, 2018, requested comment on whether pollutant discharges from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater may be subject to Clean Water Act (“CWA”) regulation. Specifically, the EPA sought comment on whether the EPA should consider clarification or revision of previous EPA statements regarding the Agency’s mandate to regulate discharges to surface waters via groundwater under the CWA.  In particular, the EPA sought comment on whether it is consistent with the CWA to require a CWA permit for indirect discharges into jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater. The EPA also sought comment on whether some or all of such discharges are addressed adequately through other federal authorities, existing state statutory or regulatory programs or through other existing federal regulations and permit programs.

After receiving over 50,000 comments, on April 15, 2019, the EPA issued an interpretive statement concluding that the releases of pollutants to groundwater are categorically excluded from the NPDES regardless of whether the groundwater is hydrologically connected to surface water.  The EPA reasoned that the Congress explicitly left regulation of groundwater discharges to the states and that the EPA had other statutory authorities through which to regulate groundwater other than the NPDES.  The EPA, in its statement, noted that its interpretation would apply in areas not within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the Ninth and Fourth Circuits. 

The Supreme Court and the Hawaii Case

In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the Ninth Circuit opinion.  Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui, 881 F.3d 754 (9th Cir. 2018), pet. for cert. granted, County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, 139 S. Ct. 1164 (2019)Boiled down to its essence, the case turns on the meaning of “from.”  As noted above, an NPDES permit is required for point source pollutants that originate “from” a point source that are discharged into a navigable water.  The NPDES system only applies to discharges of “any addition” of any pollutant from “any point source” to “navigable waters.”  Thus, by the statutory text, there must be an “addition” of a pollutant to a navigable water of the U.S. “from” a point source.  Discharges of pollutants into groundwater are not subject to the NPDES permit requirement even if the groundwater is hydrologically connected to surface water.  The legislative history of the CWA indicates that the Congress intentionally chose not to regulate hydrologically-connected groundwater, instead leaving such regulation up to the states.  See, e.g., Umatilla Water Quality Protective Association v. Smith Frozen Foods, 962 F. Supp. 1312 (D. Or. 1997)

As noted, the case involved pollutants that originated from a point source, traveled through groundwater, and then a half-mile later reached a WOTUS.  Does the permit requirement turn on a direct discharge into a WOTUS (an addition of a pollutant from a point source), or simply a discharge that originated at a point source that ultimately ends up in a WOTUS?  Clearly, the wells at issue in the case are point sources – on that point all parties agreed.  But, are indirect discharges into a WOTUS via groundwater (which is otherwise exempt from the NPDES) subject to the permit requirement?

On April 23, 2020, in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, 140 S. Ct. 1462 (2020), issued a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Breyer holding that an NPDES permit is required not only when there is a direct discharge of a pollutant from a point source into a WOTUS, but also when there is the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge.    This conclusion, the Court noted, was somewhat of a middle ground between the Ninth Circuit’s “fairly traceable” test and the position that a permit is required only if a point source ultimately delivered the pollutant to a WOTUS.  The Court determined that because the Congress coupled the words “from” and “to” in the statutory language that the Congress was referring to the destination of a WOTUS rather than the origin of a point source.  Thus, the Court determined that a permit is required when there is a direct discharge of a point source pollutant to a WOTUS or when, in effect, that is what occurred.    The Court believed that the EPA’s recent Interpretive Statement excluding all releases of pollutants to groundwater from the permit requirement was too broad and would create a loophole that would defeat the purpose of the CWA. The Court noted that many factors could be relevant in determining whether a particular discharge is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge into a WOTUS, but that time and distance would be the most important factors in most cases.  The Court also indicated that other factors could include the nature of the material through which a pollutant traveled and the extent of its dilution or chemical change while doing so, and noted that the lower courts would provide additional guidance as they decided subsequent cases. 

Justice Thomas dissented (joined by Justice Gorsuch), pointing out that the use of the word “addition” in the statute requires an augmentation or increase of a WOTUS by a pollutant and that, as a result, anything other than a direct discharge is statutorily excluded.  Indeed, in 2010, the Court declined to hear a case where the lower court held that an NPDES permit is not required unless there is an “addition” of a pollutant to a WOTUS.  See e.g., Friends of the Everglades, et al. v. South Florida Water Management District, et al., 570 F.3d 1210 (11th Cir. 2009) reh’g., den., 605 F.3d 962 (11th Cir. 2010), cert. den., 131 S. Ct. 643 (2010).  Justice Thomas also noted that the Court’s opinion provided practically zero guidance on the question of when a permit is necessary when a direct discharge is not involved, except for the Court’s provision of a list of non-exhaustive factors.  Justice Thomas stated, “[The] Court does not commit to whether those factors are the only relevant ones, whether [they] are always relevant, or which [ones] are the most important.”

Justice Alito also dissented, similarly disenchanted with the nebulous standard and “buck-passing” of the Court to lower courts on the issue.  Justice Alito wrote that, “If the Court is going to devise its own legal rules, instead of interpreting those enacted by Congress, it might at least adopt rules that can be applied with a modicum of consistency.” 

Ultimately, the Court’s “functional equivalency” test was narrower than the “fairly traceable” test that the Ninth Circuit utilized, and the Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s opinion and remanded the case for a decision based on the Court’s standard. 

Implications for agriculture.  The Court’s opinion is significant for agriculture.  From a hydrological standpoint, surface water and groundwater systems are often connected.  Groundwater is what often maintains a presence of surface water in a stream.  From agriculture’s perspective, the case is important because of the ways that a pollutant can be discharged from an initial point and ultimately reach a WOTUS.  For example, the application of manure or commercial fertilizer to a farm field either via surface application or via injection could result in eventual runoff of excess via the surface or groundwater into a WOTUS.  Certainly, when manure collects and channelizes through a ditch or depression and enters a WOTUS a direct discharge requiring an NPDES permit is required.  See, e.g., Concerned Area Residents for the Environment v. Southview Farm, 34 F.3d 114 (2d Cir. 1994).  But, that’s a different situation from seepage of manure (or other “pollutants”) through groundwater.  No farmer can guarantee that 100 percent of a manure or fertilizer application is used by the crop to which it is applied and that there are no traces of the unused application remaining in the soil.  Likewise, while organic matter decays and returns to the soil, it contains nutrients that can be conveyed via stormwater into surface water.  The CWA recognizes this and contains an NPDES exemption for agricultural stormwater discharges. But, if the Supreme Court decides in favor of the environmental group, the exemption would be removed, subjecting farmers (and others) to onerous CWA penalties unless a discharge permit were obtained - at a cost estimated to exceed $250,000 (not to mention time delays).

What about farm field tile drainage systems?  Seemingly, such systems would make it easier for “pollutants” to enter a WOTUS.  Such drainage systems are prevalent in the Midwest and other places, including California’s Central Valley.  Groundwater, by some standards, is polluted or includes pollutants.  Farm field drainage tile is deliberately installed to deliver that polluted groundwater to a WOTUS.  That is a significant reason that groundwater discharges have always been exempt from the NPDES permit requirement along with agricultural stormwater discharges and agricultural irrigation return flows.  Should the law now discourage agricultural drainage activities? 

Conclusion

Pesticide drift and groundwater discharges of “pollutants” - two big issues for agricultural producers.  Next time I look at the three biggest developments of 2020.

January 11, 2021 in Civil Liabilities, Environmental Law, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 8, 2021

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

Overview

There are a couple of online continuing education events that I will be conducting soon, and the dates are set for two summer national conferences in 2021. 

Upcoming continuing education events – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Top Developments in Agricultural Law and Tax

On Monday, January 11, beginning at 11:00 a.m. (cst), I will be hosting a two-hour CLE/CPE webinar on the top developments in agricultural law and agricultural taxation of 2020.  I will not only discuss the developments, but project how the developments will impact producers and others in the agricultural sector and what steps need to be taken as a result of the developments in the law and tax realm.  This is an event that is not only for practitioners, but producers also.  It’s an opportunity to hear the developments and provide input and discussion.  A special lower rate is provided for those not claiming continuing education credit.

You may learn more about the January 11 event and register here:  https://washburnlaw.edu/employers/cle/taxseasonupdate.html

Tax Update Webinar – CAA of 2021

On January 21, I will be hosting a two-hour webinar on the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.  This event will begin at 10:00 a.m. (cst) and run until noon.  The new law makes significant changes to the existing PPP and other SBA loan programs, CFAP, and contains many other provisions that apply to businesses and individuals.  Also, included in the new law are provisions that extend numerous provisions that were set to expire at the end of 2020.  The PPP discussion is of critical importance to many taxpayers at the present moment, especially the impact of PPP loans not being included in income and simultaneously being deductible if used to pay for qualified business expenses.  Associated income tax basis issues loom large and vary by entity type.

You may learn more about the January 21 event and register here:  https://agmanager.info/events/kansas-income-tax-institute

Summer National Conferences

Mark your calendars now for the law school’s two summer 2021 events that I conduct on farm income tax and farm estate and business planning.  Yes, there are two locations for 2021 – one east and one west.  Each event will be simulcast live over the web if you aren’t able to attend in-person.  The eastern conference is first and is set for June 7-8 at Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center near West Portsmouth, Ohio.  The location is about two hours east of Cincinnati, 90 minutes south of Columbus, Ohio, and just over two hours from Lexington, KY.  I am presently in the process of putting the agenda together.  A room block will be established for those interested in staying at the Lodge.  For more information about Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center, you made click here:  https://www.shawneeparklodge.com/

The second summer event will be held on August 2-3 in Missoula, Montana at the Hilton Garden Inn.  Missoula is beautifully situated on three rivers and in the midst of five mountain ranges.  It is also within three driving hours of Glacier National Park, and many other scenic and historic places.  The agenda will soon be available, and a room block will also be established at the hotel.  You may learn more about the location here:  https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/msogigi-hilton-garden-inn-missoula/

Conclusion

Take advantage of the upcoming webinars and mark you calendars for the summer national events.  I look for to seeing you at one or more of the events.

January 8, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Three

Overview

Today’s post continues my trek through the “Almost Top 10” ag law and tax developments of 2020.  2020 was another big year for many illustrations of the law intersecting with agriculture.  In today’s final installation of the “Almost Top 10” I look at an Indiana case involving the state’s right-to-farm law; a Montana case involving the issue of whether dinosaur fossils are minerals and, thus, belong to the mineral estate owner; and force majeure clauses in contracts and their application to events that make contract performance impossible.

The final installment of the “Almost Top Ten” of 2020 – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Right-To-Farm Laws

Himsel v. Himsel, 122 N.E. 3d 395 (Ind. Ct. App. 2019); reh’g. den., No. 18A-PL-645, 2019 Ind App. LEXIS 314 (Ind. Ct. App. Jul. 12, 2019); rev. den., 143 N.E.3d 950 (Ind. 2020).

Every state has enacted a right-to-farm (RTF) law that is designed to protect existing agricultural operations by giving farmers and ranchers who meet the legal requirements a defense in nuisance suits. It may not be only traditional row crop or livestock operations that are protected.  But, the RTF laws vary widely from state-to-state.  One such law, the Indiana version (Ind. Code §32-30-6-9), was at issue in 2019 and 2020.

The Himsel Litigation

The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that the Indiana RTF law applied to protect the defendant because the change in the nature of the defendant’s hog operation from row crop farming to a large-scale confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) involving 8,000 hogs was “not a significant change” that would make the RTF law inapplicable.  In other words, 8,000 hogs in a confinement building raised by a contracting party that likely doesn’t make management decisions concerning the hogs, doesn’t report some the associated contract income as farm income on Schedule F, and cannot pledge the hogs as loan collateral due to a lack of an ownership interest in the hogs, was somehow not significantly different from a farmer raising 200 hogs and 200 head of cattle with associated crop ground who manages the diversified operation.  Just the sheer number of hogs alone stands out in stark contrast.  Indeed, the hog operation required a change in the existing zoning of the tract.

The plaintiffs in Himsel, members of the same family as the defendants, were found to have essentially come to the nuisance because one of them chose to retire from farming and remain on the land that he had lived on for nearly 80 years, and the other didn’t move from the rural home he built in 1971.  An 8,000-head hog confinement operation and the presence of 3.9 million gallons of untreated hog manure was deemed to be comparable to farming in this area in 1941.

The court also determined that a “taking” had not occurred because the plaintiff had not sold his home and moved away from the place where he grew up and lived all of his life, and the RTF law did not take the entire value of the plaintiffs’ property away.  The appellate court, however, did not address the implications of whether its opinion essentially granted the CAFO an easement to produce odors across the plaintiffs’ property.

The appellate court declined to rehear the case and the Indiana Supreme Court declined to review the appellate court’s decision by a single vote.  On July 17, 2020, a petition for certiorari was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.  On October 5, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. 

Following Indiana’s lead, several states have modified their state RTF laws to more closely align with the Indiana provision.

Dinosaur Fossils Are Not Minerals

Murray v. BEJ Minerals, LLC, 400 Mont. 135 (2020)

 A common granting clause in a mineral deed specifies that the grantor either conveys or reserves “the oil, gas and other minerals.”  That language can raise an issue concerning what “other minerals” means.  Does it include such things as gravel, clay granite, sandstone, limestone, coal, carbon dioxide, hot water and steam?  The courts have struggled with this issue and have reached differing conclusions.  Does the phrase mean anything that is in the soil that the surface estate owner doesn’t use for agricultural purposes?  Does is matter how the substance is extracted?  Does it matter if the material is located in the subsoil rather than the topsoil?  Is it material if the substance can be extracted without significant damage to the surface estate? 

The issue of whether dinosaur fossils are “minerals” for the purposes of a mineral reservation clause in a mineral deed was an issue in a recent Montana case.  In Murray, court dealt with the issue in a case with millions of dollars on the line.  Under the facts of the case, the plaintiffs (a married couple), leased farm and ranch land beginning in 1983.  Over a period of years, the owner of the land transferred portions of his interest in the property to his two sons and sold the balance to the plaintiffs.  From 1991 to 2005, the plaintiffs and the sons operated the property as a partnership.  In 2005, the sons severed the surface estate from the mineral estate and sold their remaining interests in the surface estate to the plaintiffs.  A mineral deed was to be executed at closing that apportioned one-third of the mineral rights to each son and one-third to the plaintiffs.  After the transactions were completed, the plaintiffs owned all of the surface estate of the 27,000-acre property and one-third of the mineral (subsurface) estate.  At the time, none of the parties suspected there were valuable dinosaur fossils on the property, and none of them gave any thought to whether dinosaur fossils were part of the mineral estate as defined in the mineral deed.  Likewise, none of the parties expressed any intent about who might own dinosaur fossils that might be found on the property. 

Specifically, the mineral deed stated that the parties would own, as tenants in common, “all right, title and interest in and to all of the oil, gas, hydrocarbons, and minerals in, on and under, and that may be produced from the [Ranch].”  The purchase agreement required the parties “to inform all of the other parties of any material event which may [affect] the mineral interests and [to] share all communications and contracts with all other Parties.” 

In 2006, the plaintiffs gave permission to a trio of fossil hunters to search (and later dig) for fossils on the property.  The hunters ultimately uncovered dinosaur fossils of great value including a nearly intact Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and two separate dinosaurs that died locked in battle.  The fossils turned out to be extremely rare and quite valuable, with the “Dueling Dinosaurs” valued at between $7 million and $9 million.  In 2014, the plaintiffs sold the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to a Dutch museum for several million dollars.  A Triceratops foot was sold for $20,000 and a Triceratops skull was offered for sale for over $200,000.  The proceeds of sale were placed in an escrow account pending the outcome of a lawsuit that the sons filed.  The sons (the defendants in the present action) sued claiming that the fossils were “minerals” and that they were entitled to a portion of any sale proceeds.  The plaintiffs brought a declaratory judgment action in state court claiming that the fossils were theirs as owners of the surface estate.  The defendants removed the action to federal court and asserted a counterclaim on the basis that the fossils should be included in the mineral estate.  The trial court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs on the basis that, under Montana law, fossils are not included in the ordinary and natural meaning of “mineral” and are thus not part of the mineral estate.

On appeal, the appellate court reversed.  The appellate court determined that the term “fossil” fit within the dictionary definition of “mineral.” Specifically, the appellate court noted that Black’s Law Dictionary defined “mineral” in terms of the “use” of a substance, but that defining “mineral” in that fashion did not exclude fossils.  The appellate court also noted that an earlier version of Black’s Law Dictionary defined “mineral” as including “all fossil bodies or matters dug out of mines or quarries, whence anything may be dug, such as beds of stone which may be quarried.”  Thus, the appellate court disagreed with the trial court that the deed did not encompass dinosaur fossils.  Turning to state court interpretations of the term “mineral”, the appellate court noted that the Montana Supreme Court had held certain substances other than oil and gas can be minerals if they are rare and exceptional.  Thus, the appellate court determined that to be a mineral under Montana law, the substance would have to meet the scientific definition of a “mineral” and be rare and exceptional.  The appellate court held that those standards had been met.  The plaintiffs sought a rehearing by the full Ninth Circuit and their request was granted.  The appellate court then determined that the issue was one of first impression under Montana law and certified the question of whether dinosaur fossils constitute “minerals” for the purpose of a mineral reservation under Montana law to the Montana Supreme Court.  

The Montana Supreme Court answered the certified question in the negative – dinosaur fossils are not “minerals” for the purpose of the mineral reservation at issue because they were not included in the expression, “oil, gas and hydrocarbons,” and could not be implied in the deed’s general grant of all other minerals.  “Fossils” and “minerals” were mutually exclusive terms as the parties used those terms in the mineral deed.  In making its determination, the Montana Supreme Court reasoned that whether a substance or material is a “mineral” is based on whether it is rare and valuable for its mineral properties, whether the conveying instrument expressed an intent to use the scientific definition of the term, and the relation of the substance or material to the land’s surface and the method and effect of its removal. The Court also noted that deeds are like contracts and should be interpreted in accordance with their plain and ordinary meaning to give effect to the parties’ mutual intent at the time of execution. 

The Court noted that the term “minerals” is defined in various areas of Montana statutory law (including tax provisions) and none include “fossils,” and that the only statutory provision mentioning fossils and minerals in the same statute referred to them separately.  The Court also noted that the U.S. Department of Interior (for purposes of federal law) had made an administrative decision in 1915 that dinosaur fossils are not “minerals.”  As such, the terms were mutually exclusive as used in the mineral deed between the parties, and the plaintiffs maintained ownership of any interests that the two sons had not specifically reserved in the mineral deed.  The deed simply did not contemplate including “fossils” under the mineral reservation clause.  Instead, the Court concluded that “minerals” under Montana law are a resource that is mined as a raw material for further processing, refinement and eventual economic exploitation.  Fossils are not mined, they are excavated, and they are not rare and valuable due to their mineral properties.  Therefore, unless specifically mentioned in the mineral deed, language identifying “minerals” would not “ordinarily and naturally” include fossils.

Based on the Montana Supreme Court’s answer to the certified question, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the federal district court’s order granting summary judgment to the plaintiffs and declaring them the sole owners of the dinosaur fossils.  

Force Majeure Clauses in Contracts

Governmental reaction to the China-originated virus in 2020 created legal and economic issues for many persons and businesses.  One of those legal issues involves existing contracts.  The issuance of various Executive Orders by state governors as a result of the anticipated impact of the virus shut down significant economic activity in those states and triggered problems up and down the food supply chain.  That raised numerous questions.  What happens when a supply chain is disrupted?  What recourse exists for a farmer that entered into a contract to sell corn to an ethanol plant, and now the ethanol price has collapsed and the plant refuses to pay?  What if a hog buyer won’t buy hogs because the processing plant is shut-down?  What if a milk buyer backs out of a milk contract because the milk market has disintegrated?  Grain can be stored and milk can be dumped, but what do you do with a 300-lb. fat hog?

A common provision in some agricultural contracts (particularly hog production contracts) is known as a “force majeure” provision. Under such a provision, a contracting party is not liable for damages due to the delay or failure to perform under the contract because of an event that is beyond the party’s control.  Performance is excused until it becomes possible for the party to perform under the contract.

Force Majeure means “superior force” or “unavoidable accident.”  It applies when there are circumstances beyond a party’s control that excuses the party from performing, such as an extraordinary event like war, riot, crime, pandemic, etc. Most often, a “force majeure” event involves an “act of God” (i.e. flooding, earthquakes, or volcanoes) or the failure of third parties (such as suppliers and subcontractors) to perform their obligations to a contracting party. However, sometimes a contracting party will attempt to use the clause to extract themselves from a contract that has turned out to not be profitable for them.

A force majeure clause is not uncommon in contracts.  It concerns how the parties allocate risk and, in essence, frees the contracting parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond their control prevents at least one party from fulfilling their contractual obligations.  The event or circumstance must be one that the parties couldn’t have anticipated at the time the contract was entered into; the party seeking to remove themselves from the contract must not have caused the problem; and the event or circumstance makes it impossible or impractical to perform the contract.  

The wording of a force majeure clause is critical and should be negotiated by the contracting parties so that it applies equally to all parties to the contract. Often, it is helpful if the clause includes examples of acts that will excuse performance under the provision.

A contract may distinguish between “acts of God” and force majeure, and a contract may include an “act of God” clause rather than a force majeure clause.  Many contracts contain language specifying that if a particular event occurs, then no performance is required.  That type of language tends to deal with “acts of God.”  Again, it’s a matter of how the parties allocated risk. Perhaps the virus is such an event that is comparable to those that fall under the category of an “act of God.”

Conclusion

In the next post, I will start the journey through the “Top Ten” of 2020 in ag law and ag tax.

January 5, 2021 in Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Real Property | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 1, 2021

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020

Overview

It’s the time of year again where I sift through the legal and tax developments impacting U.S. agriculture from the past year, and rank them in terms of their importance to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, rural landowners and the ag sector in general. 

As usual, 2020 contained many legal and tax developments of importance to the agricultural sector.  Of course, there were major tax law changes that occurred as a result of the federal government’s response to various state governors shutting down businesses in their states and locking down their economies with resulting economic harm.  The other issues continued their natural ebb and flow in reaction to the economics governing the sector and policy and regulatory implementations.

It’s also difficult to pair things down to ten significant developments.  There are other developments that are also significant, but perhaps less so on a national scale.  So, today’s post is the first installment in a series devoted to those developments that were left on the cutting table and didn’t quite make the “Top Ten” for 2020.

The “almost top ten of 2020” (in no particular order) – that’s the topic of today’s post.

Withheld Tax Not Deprioritized in Bankruptcy 

In In re DeVries, 621 B.R. 445 (8th Cir. B.A.P. 2020), rev’g., No. 19-0018, 2020 U.S. Bankr. LEXIS 1154 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa Apr. 28, 2020)

A major aspect of Chapter 12 bankruptcy is the ability to deprioritize governmental claims (e.g., taxes).  But, does the provision cover withheld taxes?  Is so, Chapter 12 is even more valuable to farm debtors. 

In this case, the debtors filed Chapter 12 and sold a significant amount of farmland and farming machinery in 2017, triggering almost $1 million of capital gain income and increasing their 2017 tax liability significantly. The tax liability was offset to a degree by income tax withholding from the wife’s off-farm job. Their amended Chapter 12 plan called for a refund to the estate of withheld federal and state income taxes. The taxing authorities objected, claiming that the withheld amounts had already been applied against the debtor’s tax debt as 11 U.S.C. §553(a) allowed. The debtors claimed that 2017 legislation barred tax debt arising from the sale of assets used in farming from being offset against previously collected tax. Instead, the debtors argued, the withheld taxes should be returned to the bankruptcy estate. If withheld taxes weren’t returned to the bankruptcy estate, the debtors argued, similarly situated debtors would be treated differently.

The bankruptcy court was faced with the issue of whether 11 U.S.C. §1232(a) entitled the bankruptcy estate to a refund of the withheld tax.  Largely based on legislative history, the trial court concluded that 11 U.S.C. §1232(a) overrode a creditor’s set-off rights under 11 U.S.C. §553(a) in the context of Chapter 12. The debtors’ bankruptcy estate was entitled to a refund of the withheld income taxes.

On appeal, the bankruptcy appellate panel for the Eighth Circuit reversed. The appellate panel determined that 11 U.S.C. §1232(a) is a priority-stripping provision and not a tax provision and only addresses the priority of a claim and does not establish any right to or amount of a refund. As such, nothing in the statue authorized a debtor’s Chapter 12 plan to require a taxing authority to disgorge, refund or turn-over pre-petition withholdings for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate. The statutory term “claim,” The court reasoned, cannot be read to include withheld tax as of the petition date. Accordingly, the statute was clear and legislative history purporting to support the debtor’s position was rejected. 

Bankruptcy and the Preferential Payment Rule – The Dean Foods Matter

A decade ago, the preferential payment rule arose in the context of the VeraSun bankruptcy.  In late 2020, the issue back in relation to bankruptcy filing of Dean Foods, the largest dairy subsidiary company in the United States. Dean Foods and its forty-three affiliates filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 12, 2019 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, which is being jointly administered under case no. 19-36313.  In the fall of 2020, Dean Foods and its affiliates filed a joint Chapter 11 plan of liquidation.  Dairy farmers that sold milk to Dean Farms shortly before the bankruptcy filing then started receiving letters demanding repayment of the amount paid for those milks sales. 

The preferential payment rule does come with some exceptions.  The exceptions basically comport with usual business operations.  In other words, if the transaction between the debtor and the creditor occurred in the normal course of the parties doing business with each other, then the trustee’s “avoidance” claim will likely fail. 

Exchange for new value.  The bankruptcy trustee cannot avoid a transfer to the extent the transfer was intended by the debtor and the creditor (to or for whose benefit such transfer was made) to be a contemporaneous exchange for new value given to the debtor, and occurred in a substantially contemporaneous exchange.  11 U.S.C. §547(c)(1)(A-B).  A contemporaneous exchange for new value is not preferential because it encourages the creditor to deal with troubled debtors and because other creditors are not adversely affected if the debtor’s estate receives new value.  See, e.g., In re Jones Truck Lines, 130 F.3d 323 (8th Cir. 1997).  “New value” as used in Section 547(c) means “money or money’s worth in goods, services, or new credit.” 11 U.S.C. § 547(a)(2). An exchange for new value is presumed substantially contemporaneous if the transfer of estate property is made within seven days of the transfer of the new value.  See, e.g., In re Mason, 189 B.R. 932 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa 1995).

Ordinary course of business.  The bankruptcy trustee also cannot avoid a transfer  to the extent that the transfer was in payment of a debt that the debtor incurred in the ordinary course of the debtor’s business (or financial affairs) with the creditor, and the transfer was made in the ordinary course of business or financial affairs of the debtor and the creditor; or was made according to ordinary business terms.  11 U.S.C. §547(c)(2)(A)-(B).  If the transaction at is the first between the parties, “the transaction must be typical compared to both parties’ past dealings with similarly-situated parties.  In re Pickens, No. 06-01120, 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 6 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa Jan. 3, 2008). 

The vast majority of dairy farmers receiving the demand letters should be able to demonstrate that the milk sales were in the ordinary course of business.  But, just knowing the exceptions to the rule is vitally important.

Appellate Court Upholds $750,000 Compensatory Damage Award in Hog Nuisance Suit

McKiver v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, 980 F.3d 937 (4th Cir. 2020)

Here, the plaintiffs were pre-existing neighbors to the defendant’s large-scale confinement hog feeding facility conducted by a third-party farming operation via contract. The facility annually maintained nearly 15,000 of the defendant’s hogs that generated about 153,000 pounds of feces and urine every day. The waste was disposed of via lagoons and by spreading it over open “sprayfields” on the farm. The plaintiffs sued in state court in 2013 for nuisance violations, but later dismissed that action and refiled in federal court after learning of the defendant’s control over the hog feeding facility naming the defendant as the sole defendant.

The federal trial court coordinated 26 related cases against similar hog production operations brought by nearly 500 plaintiffs into a master case docket and proceeded with trials in 2017. In this case, the jury awarded $75,000 in compensatory damages to each of 10 plaintiffs and $5 million in punitive damages to each plaintiff. The punitive damage award was later reduced to $2.5 million per plaintiff after applying a state law cap on punitive damages.

On appeal, the appellate court determined that the trial court had properly allowed the plaintiffs’ expert testimony to establish the presence of fecal material on the plaintiffs’ homes and had properly limited the expert witness testimony of the defendant concerning odor monitoring she conducted at the hog facility. The appellate court also rejected the defendant’s claim that the third party farming operation should be included in the case as a necessary and indispensable party. The appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s holding concerning the availability of compensatory damages beyond the rental value of the property and the jury instruction on nuisance. The appellate court also concluded that the trial court properly submitted the question of punitive damages to the jury. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s admission of financial information of the defendant’s corporate grandfather and combining the punitive damages portion of the trial with the liability portion, but held that such errors did not require a new trial. However, the appellate court remanded the case for a consideration of the proper award of punitive damages without consideration of the grandparent’s company’s financial information (such as compensation amounts to corporate executives).

It’s also important to note that while North Carolina law was involved in this case, as a result of this litigation several states, including Nebraska and Oklahoma, have recently amended their state right-to-farm laws with the intent of strengthening the protections afforded farming operations. 

Shortly after the appellate court reached its decision, the defendant's parent company (China-based WH Group Ltd and its U.S.-based pork producer Smithfield Foods, Inc.) announced that it settled the nuisance suits brought by hundreds of plaintiffs.  Smithfield Foods, Inc. said that the settlement, "takes into account the divided decision of the court."  

Lifetime Ban on Owning Firearms For Filing Tax Returns With False Statement 

Folajtar v. The Attorney General of the United States, 980 F.3d 897(3rd Cir. 2020)

Any law that impairs a fundamental constitutional right (any of the first ten amendments to the Constitution) is subject to strict scrutiny – or at least it’s supposed to be.  The right to bear arms, as the Second Amendment, is a fundamental constitutional right.  Thus, any law restricting that right is to be strictly scrutinized.  But, does a convicted felon always permanently lose the right to own a firearm.  What if the felony is a non-violent one?  These questions were at issue in this case.

The plaintiff pleaded guilty in 2011 to willfully making a materially false statement on her federal tax returns. She was sentenced to three-years’ probation, including three months of home confinement, a $10,000 fine, and a $100 assessment. She also paid back taxes exceeding $250,000, penalties and interest. Her conviction triggered 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1), which prohibits those convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison from possessing firearms. The plaintiff’s crime was punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.

As originally enacted in 1938, 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1) denied gun ownership to those convicted of violent crimes (e.g., murder, kidnapping, burglary, etc.). However, the statute was expanded in the 1968. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized gun ownership as an individual constitutional right in 2008. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). In a split decision, the majority reasoned that any felony is a “serious” crime and, as such, results in a blanket exclusion from Second Amendment protections for life. The majority disregarded the fact that the offense was non-violent, was the plaintiff’s first-ever felony offense, and was an offense for which she received no prison sentence. The majority claimed it had to rule this way because of deference to Congressional will that, the majority claimed, created a blanket, categorical rule.

The dissent rejected the majority’s categorical rule, pointing out that the plaintiff’s offense was nonviolent, and no evidence of the plaintiff’s dangerousness was presented. The dissent also noted that the majority’s “extreme deference” gave legislatures the power to manipulate the Second Amendment by simply choosing a label. Instead, the dissent reasoned, when the fundamental right to bear arms is involved, narrow tailoring to public safety is required. Because the plaintiff posed no danger to anyone, the dissent’s position was that her Second Amendment rights should not be curtailed. Likewise, because gun ownership is an individual constitutional right, the dissent pointed out that the Congress bears a high burden before extinguishing it. Post-2008, making a categorical declaration is insufficient to satisfy that burden, according to the dissent.

Expect this case to be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Conclusion

That’s the first part of the trip through the “almost Top 10” of 2020.  I will continue the trek through the list next time.

January 1, 2021 in Bankruptcy, Civil Liabilities, Criminal Liabilities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Of Nuisance, Overtime and Firearms – Potpourri of Ag Law Developments

Overview

As readers of this blog know, periodically I write an article focusing on recent court developments.  This is one of those articles.  Recently, federal and state courts have issued some rather significant opinions involving livestock odors, overtime wages for dairy workers and the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

A potpourri of ag law and related issues – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Appellate Court Upholds $750,000 Compensatory Damage Award in Hog Nuisance Suit

McKiver v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, No. 19-1019, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 36416 (4th Cir. Nov. 19, 2020)

A nuisance is an invasion of an individual's interest in the use and enjoyment of land rather than an interference with the exclusive possession or ownership of the land. The concept has become increasingly important in recent years due to land use conflicts posed by large-scale, industrialized confinement livestock operations.  Indeed, the industrialization of agriculture has given rise to nuisance suits brought by farmers against large-scale agricultural operations.

Nuisance law prohibits land uses that unreasonably and substantially interfere with another individual's quiet use and enjoyment of property.  The doctrine is based on two interrelated concepts: (1) landowners have the right to use and enjoy property free of unreasonable interferences by others; and (2) landowners must use property so as not to injure adjacent owners.

Nuisance law is rooted in the common law and has been developed over several centuries as courts settled land use conflicts.  Nuisance law is always changing, and the legal rules vary between jurisdictions.  Nuisance law is important to agriculture because of the noxious odors produced by many farm operations, especially those involving livestock production.

The two primary issues at stake in any agricultural nuisance dispute are whether the use alleged to be a nuisance is reasonable for the area and whether the use alleged to be a nuisance substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of neighboring land.  Another issue may be whether the complained-of activity is protected by a state right-to-farm statute.

All of these concepts were involved in this case.  Here, the plaintiffs were pre-existing neighbors to the defendant’s large-scale confinement hog feeding facility conducted by a third-party farming operation via contract. The facility annually maintained nearly 15,000 of the defendant’s hogs that generated about 153,000 pounds of feces and urine every day. The waste was disposed of via lagoons and by spreading it over open “sprayfields” on the farm. The plaintiffs sued in state court in 2013 for nuisance violations, but later dismissed that action and refiled in federal court after learning of the defendant’s control over the hog feeding facility naming the defendant as the sole defendant.

The federal trial court coordinated 26 related cases against similar hog production operations brought by nearly 500 plaintiffs into a master case docket and proceeded with trials in 2017. In this case, the jury awarded $75,000 in compensatory damages to each of 10 plaintiffs and $5 million in punitive damages to each plaintiff. The punitive damage award was later reduced to $2.5 million per plaintiff after applying a state law cap on punitive damages.

On appeal, the appellate court determined that the trial court had properly allowed the plaintiffs’ expert testimony to establish the presence of fecal material on the plaintiffs’ homes and had properly limited the expert witness testimony of the defendant concerning odor monitoring she conducted at the hog facility. The appellate court also rejected the defendant’s claim that the third party farming operation should be included in the case as a necessary and indispensable party. The appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s holding concerning the availability of compensatory damages beyond the rental value of the property and the jury instruction on nuisance. The appellate court also concluded that the trial court properly submitted the question of punitive damages to the jury. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s admission of financial information of the defendant’s corporate grandfather and combining the punitive damages portion of the trial with the liability portion, but held that such errors did not require a new trial. However, the appellate court remanded the case for a consideration of the proper award of punitive damages without consideration of the grandparent’s company’s financial information (such as compensation amounts to corporate executives).

It’s also important to note that while North Carolina law was involved in this case, as a result of this litigation several states, including Nebraska and Oklahoma, have recently amended their state right-to-farm laws with the intent of strengthening the protections afforded farming operations. 

Overtime Exemption for Dairy Workers Unconstitutional. 

Martinez-Cuevas v. Deruyter Brothers Dairy, Inc., No. 96267-7, 2020 Wash. LEXIS 660 (Wash. Sup. Ct. Nov. 5, 2020)

Federal law provides an exemption from paying overtime wages for persons employed in agriculture.  Many states have a comparable exemption.  In this case, the exemption contained in Washington law was at issue.

The plaintiffs brought a class action on behalf of 300 of the defendant’s workers challenging the exemption of dairy workers from overtime pay under the Washington Minimum Wage Act. The plaintiffs also claimed that the defendant violated other wage and hour rules. The plaintiffs claimed that the overtime exemption violated the equal protection clause in the state constitution and was racially biased against Hispanic workers.

The state Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, the majority held that the exemption undermined a “fundamental right” to health and safety protections for workers in dangerous jobs that the state Constitution guarantees via the privileges and immunities clause. The majority focused on Article II, Sec. 35 of the Washington Constitution requiring the legislature to pass law necessary “for the protection of persons working in…employments dangerous to life or deleterious to health,” and Article I which the majority construed as protecting “fundamental rights of state citizenship.” The majority believed that there was a connection between the requirement that the legislature pass laws to protect workers in dangerous occupations and the minimum wage law, and that the legislature didn’t have a reasonable basis to exclude dairy workers from the overtime pay requirements of the law.

The dissenting justices pointed out that overtime pay is not a fundamental constitutional right and, as such, does not implicated the privileges and immunities clause. Instead, the state legislature has a “wide berth” to decide that laws that are required to carry out that purpose. The dissent pointed out that the legislature could simply repeal the overtime law and no person would have a personal or private common law right to insist on overtime pay absent an employment contract with a term promising overtime pay.

The ruling means that dairy farmers will be required to pay $20.54 per overtime hour beginning in 2021.  That is the case, of course, for the workers that still have a job, have overtime hours and aren’t displaced by automation.

Lifetime Ban on Owning Firearms For Filing Tax Returns With False Statement 

Folajtar v. The Attorney General of the United States, No. 19-1687, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 37006 (3rd Cir. Nov. 24, 2020)

Any law that impairs a fundamental constitutional right (any of the first ten amendments to the Constitution) is subject to strict scrutiny – or at least it’s supposed to be.  The right to bear arms, as the Second Amendment, is a fundamental constitutional right.  Thus, any law restricting that right is to be strictly scrutinized.  But, does a convicted felon always permanently lose the right to own a firearm.  What if the felony is a non-violent one?  These questions were at issue in this case.

The plaintiff pleaded guilty in 2011 to willfully making a materially false statement on her federal tax returns. She was sentenced to three-years’ probation, including three months of home confinement, a $10,000 fine, and a $100 assessment. She also paid back taxes exceeding $250,000, penalties and interest. Her conviction triggered 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1), which prohibits those convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison from possessing firearms. The plaintiff’s crime was punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.

As originally enacted in 1938, 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1) denied gun ownership to those convicted of violent crimes (e.g., murder, kidnapping, burglary, etc.). However, the statute was expanded in the 1968. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized gun ownership as an individual constitutional right in 2008. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). In a split decision, the majority reasoned that any felony is a “serious” crime and, as such, results in a blanket exclusion from Second Amendment protections for life. The majority disregarded the fact that the offense was non-violent, was the plaintiff’s first-ever felony offense, and was an offense for which she received no prison sentence. The majority claimed it had to rule this way because of deference to Congressional will that, the majority claimed, created a blanket, categorical rule.

The dissent rejected the majority’s categorical rule, pointing out that the plaintiff’s offense was nonviolent, and no evidence of the plaintiff’s dangerousness was presented. The dissent also noted that the majority’s “extreme deference” gave legislatures the power to manipulate the Second Amendment by simply choosing a label. Instead, the dissent reasoned, when the fundamental right to bear arms is involved, narrow tailoring to public safety is required. Because the plaintiff posed no danger to anyone, the dissent’s position was that her Second Amendment rights should not be curtailed. Likewise, because gun ownership is an individual constitutional right, the dissent pointed out that the Congress bears a high burden before extinguishing it. Post-2008, making a categorical declaration is insufficient to satisfy that burden, according to the dissent.

Expect this case to be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Justices Barrett and Kavanaugh have already indicated that they agree with the dissent based on their comments in earlier cases.

Conclusion

There are always significant developments in the law impacting farmers and ranchers and rural landowners.  The three court opinions discussed in this article are each significant in their own respect.  Stay informed.  And, on this Thanksgiving Day 2020, if you don’t have everything you want, be thankful for the things you don’t have that you don’t want.

November 26, 2020 in Civil Liabilities, Criminal Liabilities, Income Tax, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)