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)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Court and IRS Happenings in Ag Law and Tax

Overview

It’s been a while since I have written a summary of what’s been happening in the courts concerning developments relevant to agricultural producers, ag businesses and rural landowners.  It’s always helpful to stay informed of the ag legal issues that the courts are addressing. 

Current court developments in the courts involving ag law and tax – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Nuisance Case Against Hog CAFO Continues 

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 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 state (NC) right-to-farm (RTF) law as barring all of the plaintiff’s claims.  However, the court disagreed noting that conditions that constitute 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 NC RTF law was different from other state RTF laws that covered non-nuisance tort claims related to farming operations along with nuisance claims.  The NC 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. 

1914 Fence Agreement Fixes Boundary 

Eggemeyer v. Hughes, No. 08-19-0002-CV, 2021 Tex. App. LEXIS 691 (Tex. Ct. App. Jan. 28, 2021)  

 The parties owned adjacent tracts of land north and south of each other separated by section lines.  The defendant claimed that the section lines delineated the boundary and that a barbed wire fence constructed from a survey was built in its location due to practicalities.  The plaintiff claimed that the fence, which existed 150 yards to the north of the section lines, was the boundary.  The disputed acreage between the section lines and the fence was 90 acres. 

In 1914, prior owners of the tracts had executed a fence agreement that was filed in the county register of deeds office.  In the agreement they fixed the boundary in accordance with a metes and bounds description that referred to natural landmarks.  The plaintiff’s deed referred to the 1914 agreement.  In 2013, the plaintiffs sought to place a water well close to the boundary and negotiations with the defendant revealed that the parties had different views of the actual boundary.  The defendants sought a declaratory judgment seeking to enforce the 1914 agreement and the plaintiffs filed an adverse possession claim.  The trial court upheld the 1914 fence agreement and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. 

On further review the appellate court affirmed.  While the non-permanent markers referred to in the 1914 fence agreement could not be found, the appellate court determined that there was sufficient evidence to support the defendant’s claim of ownership of the disputed acres via the 1914 fence agreement.  The appellate court also remanded the case on the issue of attorney fees. 

Boundary by Acquiescence Established by Landowners’ Conduct

Waggoner v. Alford, No. CV-19-931, 2021 Ark. App. 120 (Ark. Ct. App. Mar. 10, 2021)

The defendants purchased land adjacent to the plaintiff’s property on which they built a house. The defendants had a survey completed which indicated that their house was twenty-seven feet from the property line. This initial survey treated the plaintiff’s wire fence as the boundary. The plaintiff commissioned a survey nine years later that revealed that the fence was not the true boundary, and the defendants’ house encroached thirty-three feet onto the plaintiff’s property. A subsequent survey by the defendants made the same finding. The plaintiff sued to eject the defendants from the disputed .828-acre tract. The defendants claimed that the plaintiff’s fence constituted a boundary by acquiescence. The plaintiff argued that the fence was never intended to act as a boundary line, but rather as a means for keeping his horses on his property for a period of two to three years.

The trial court determined that the defendants had proved title to the disputed .828-acre tract. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that a boundary by acquiescence had not been established. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the parties had not mutually consented to the fence as the property line. The appellate court noted that an express agreement between the parties is not necessary, and silent acquiescence can be established when a boundary line can be inferred from the conduct of the parties over a period of time. The appellate court noted that the defendants had maintained the disputed property for eight years before the plaintiff objected. As a result, the appellate court held that the evidence supported the finding of a boundary by acquiescence.

Trump-Era WOTUS Rule Applies in All States

Colorado v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, No. 20-1238, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 6070 (10th Cir. Mar. 2, 2021)

The “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” (NWPR) issued in April 2020, defines the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) term “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”). The definition is a key aspect of administering the CWA.  Only waters that constitute a WOTUS are subject to the CWA requirements and regulations.  However, the Congress left the definition of a WOTUS up to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to write rules defining the term. The NWPR is the most recent attempt at a regulatory definition.  

In 2020, the Colorado federal district court entered a preliminary injunction that barred the NWPR from taking effect in Colorado as applied to the discharge permit requirement of Section 404 of the CWA.  On appeal, the appellate court reversed.  The appellate court noted that Colorado had failed to show irreparable harm without the issuance of the preliminary injunction.  The result of the appellate court’s decision is that the NWPR is presently in effect in every state in the U.S. 

CWA Contains “Knowing” Requirement, But WOTUS is Not Vague 

United States v. Lucero, No. 10074, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 6307 and 6327 (9th Cir. Mar. 4, 2021)

The defendant, in 2014, operated a business that charged construction companies for the dumping of soil and debris on dry lands near San Francisco bay.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) later claimed that the dry land was a “wetland” subject to the dredge and fill permit requirements of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  As a result, the defendant was charged with (and later convicted of) violating the CWA without any evidence in the record that the defendant knew or had reason to know that the dry land was a wetland subject to the CWA. 

On further review, the appellate court noted that the CWA prohibits the “knowing” discharge of a pollutant into covered waters without a permit.  At trial, the jury instructions did not state that the defendant had to make a “knowing” violation of the CWA to be found guilty of a discharge violation.  Accordingly, the appellate court reversed on this point.  However, the appellate court ruled against the defendant on his claim that the regulation defining “waters of the United States” was unconstitutionally vague, and that the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule should apply retroactively to his case. 

Conservation Easement Deduction Allowed for Donated Façade Easement 

C.C.M. AM 2021-001 (Mar. 8, 2021)

The taxpayer donated an easement on a building in a registered historic district on which the taxpayer had installed an accessibility ramp to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  The IRS determined that the installation of the ramp would not disqualify the taxpayer’s deduction.  The IRS viewer the ramp as “upkeep” essential to the preservation of the structure.  Such upkeep, if required to comply with the ADA, does not jeopardize the donor’s eligibility for a charitable deduction under I.R.C. §170(h)(4)(B) with respect to a building in a registered historic district. 

No Exception From Early Withdrawal Penalty for Payment of Living Expenses 

Catania v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2021-33

The petitioner retired at age 55 and transferred his 401(k) funds to a traditional IRA.  Two years later, the petitioner withdrew $37,000 from the IRA to pay for maintenance on his home and other living expenses.  The IRS applied a 10 percent penalty to the amount withdrawn because the petitioner had not reached age 59.5 at the time of the withdrawal.  The Tax Court agreed with the IRS, determining that the Code contains no exception to early retirement account withdrawals for payment of living expenses and/or home maintenance. 

Conclusion

These are just some of the recent developments in the ag law and tax world.  There’s never a dull moment.

March 24, 2021 in Environmental Law, Income Tax, Real Property | 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)

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Recent Happenings in Ag Law and Ag Tax

Overview

The world of agricultural law and taxation is certainly pertinent in the daily lives of farmers and ranchers.  In recent days and weeks, the courts have addressed more issues that can make a difference for ag producers.  In today’s post, I examine a few of those.  Those discussed today involve individual and entity taxation as well as environmental and regulatory issues.

More recent developments in ag law and tax - it’s the topic of today’s post.

Flow-Through Entities Can Deduct State and Local Taxes

IRS Notice 2020-75, applicable to specified income tax payments made on or after November 9, 2020

In a Notice, the IRS has said that taxes that are imposed on and paid by a partnership (or an S corporation) on its income are allowed as a deduction by the partnership (or S corporation) in computing its non-separately stated taxable income or loss for the tax year of payment. They are not passed through to the partners or shareholders, where they would be subject to the $10,000 limitation on state and local tax deductions imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act effective for tax years beginning after 2017.

The IRS did not set a timetable for the issuance of proposed regulations. The IRS issued the Notice in response to some states enacting laws to allow this type of treatment for partnerships and S corporations. Thus, for a flow-through entity to be able to do this for a partnership or S corporation, state law must provide for pass-through entity level taxation. The Notice won't apply unless state law allows this. Merely allowing a pass-through entity to make withholding tax payments on behalf of the owners will not qualify because those withholding tax payments are treated as payments made by the owners and not as payments in satisfaction of the pass -through entity's tax liability. In addition, entities taking advantage of the Notice will reduce allocable taxable income which will, in turn reduce allocable qualified business income for purposes of I.R.C. §199A and, therefore, the qualified business income deduction. 

IRA Distributions Included in Income and Subject to Early Withdrawal Penalty 

Ball v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2020-152

During 2012 and 2013 the petitioner participated in a SEP-IRA. Chase Bank (Chase) was the custodian. In 2012, he took two distributions from the account totaling over $200,000.  He had the bank deposit the distributions into a Chase business checking account that he had opened in the name of The Ball Investment Account LLC (Ball LLC), of which he was the sole owner and only member. Importantly, Ball LLC was not a retirement account. The petitioner informed Chase that the distributions were early distributions that were not exempt from tax.  The petitioner made real estate loans with the distributed funds. The first loan was repaid in April 2013 with a check payable to "the Ball SEP Account."  The funds were deposited into the SEP-IRA account. He paid off the second loan in installments in 2012 and 2013.  The payments were made with checks made payable to "the Ball SEP Account.”  Chase, as custodian, had no knowledge of or control over the use that Ball LLC made of the distributions that were deposited in the Ball LLC business checking account.  Chase also didn’t hold or control any documents related to the loans Ball LLC made. Chase issued the petitioner a Form 1099-R for the 2012 tax year reporting that the petitioner had received taxable distributions from the SEP-IRA of $209,600. While the petitioner reported the distributions on his Form 1040, he did not include them in gross income and reported no tax and no tax liability.  The IRS issued a CP2000 Notice stating that the petitioner had failed to report the distributions from Chase Bank and that he therefore owed $67,031 in tax and a substantial-understatement penalty of $13,406. The petitioner did not respond to the Notice, and the IRS then sent him a notice of deficiency that determined the deficiency, additional tax, and penalty due. The Tax Court determined that the petitioner had unfettered control over the distributions, rejecting the petitioner’s “conduit agency arrangement” argument. The Tax Court determined that Ball LLC was not acting as an agent or conduit on behalf of Chase when Ball LLC received and made use of the distributions. The Tax Court noted that Chase had no knowledge of how the distributed funds were used after they were deposited in the Ball LLC account at the petitioner’s direction and that nothing in the record showed that petitioner, who controlled Ball LLC, did not have unfettered control over the distributions. The Tax Court determined that the facts of his case were analogous to those in Vandenbosch v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2016-29 and, as a result, Ball LLC was not a conduit for Chase. As a result, the IRS position that the distributions should be included in the petitioner’s income was upheld. In addition, the petitioner had not yet reached age 59.5 which meant that he was liable for the 10 percent early distribution penalty. The Tax Court also upheld the accuracy-related penalty. 

New ESA Definition of “Habitat” 

85 Fed. Reg. 81411 (Dec. 16, 2020), effective, Jan. 15, 2021

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Weyerhaeuser Co. v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service, 139 S. Ct. 361 (2018), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has modified the definition of “habitat” for listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The modification is the first change in the definition since the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) enactment in 1973. Under Weyerhaeuser, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an area being designated as habitat is a prerequisite for a designation as “critical habitat.”  The regulation defines “habitat” as “the abiotic and biotic setting that currently or periodically contains the resources and conditions necessary to support one or more life processes of a species.” Thus, to be “habitat” an area must already contain the conditions necessary to support the species it is intended to be habitat for. Thus, only those areas which include the environmental conditions that can provide benefits to the species at issue (one seeking either a listed or endangered species) will be eligible for critical habitat designation. 

Federal Government Must Pay Farmers Millions For Army Corps of Engineers' Mismanagement of Missouri River. 

Ideker Farms, Inc. v. United States, No. 14-183L, 2020 U.S. Claims LEXIS 2548 (Fed. Cl. Dec. 14, 2020)

In 2014, 400 farmers along the Missouri River from Kansas to North Dakota sued the federal government claiming that the actions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) led to and caused repeated flooding of their farmland along the Missouri River. The farmers alleged that flooding in 2007-2008, 2010-2011, and 2013-2014 constituted a taking requiring that “just compensation” be paid to them under the Fifth Amendment. The litigation was divided into two phases – liability and just compensation. The liability phase was decided in early 2018 when the court determined that some of the 44 landowners selected as bellwether plaintiffs had established the COE’s liability. In that decision, the court held that the COE, in its attempt to balance flood control and its responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act, had released water from reservoirs “during periods of high river flows with the knowledge that flooding was taking place or likely to soon occur.” The court, in that case, noted that the COE had made other changes after 2004 to reengineer the Missouri River and reestablish more natural environments to facilitate species recovery that caused riverbank destabilization which led to flooding. Ultimately, the court, in the earlier litigation, determined that 28 of the 44 landowners had proven the elements of a takings claim – causation, foreseeability and severity. The claims of the other 16 landowners were dismissed for failure to prove causation. The court also determined that flooding in 2011 could not be tied to the COE’s actions and dismissed the claims for that year.

The present case involved a determination of the plaintiffs’ losses and whether the federal government had a viable defense against the plaintiffs’ claims. The court found that the “increased frequency, severity, and duration of flooding post MRRP [Missouri River Recovery Program] changed the character of the representative tracts of land.” The court also stated that, “ [i]t cannot be the case that land that experiences a new and ongoing pattern of increased flooding does not undergo a change in character.” The court determined that three representative plaintiffs, farming operations in northwest Missouri, southwest Iowa and northeast Kansas, were collectively owed more than $7 million for the devaluation of their land due to the establishment of a “permanent flowage easement” that the COE created which constituted a compensable taking under the Fifth Amendment.

The impact of the court’s ruling means that hundreds of landowners affected by flooding in six states are likely entitled to just compensation for the loss of property value due to the new flood patterns that the COE created as part of its MRRP. 

Conclusion

As 2021 unwinds, more issues will occur, many of which will likely involve estate and business entity planning along with income tax planning.

January 24, 2021 in Business Planning, Environmental Law, Income Tax, 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)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Four

Overview

The biggest three developments of 2020 in ag law and tax are up for discussion today.  2020 was a year of many important developments of relevance to the agricultural industry, but the top three stand out in particular. 

The three most important developments of 2020 – it’s the topic of today’s post.

No. 3 – SCOTUS DACA Opinion

Background.  In mid-2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Department of Homeland Security, et al. v. Regents of the University of California, et al., 140 S. Ct. 1891 (2020) where the Court denied the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  The Court’s decision is of prime importance to agriculture because the case involved the ability of a federal government agency to create rules that are applied with the force of law without following the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.  Agricultural activities are often subjected to the rules developed by federal government agencies, making it critical that agency rules are subjected to public input before being finalized.

The DHS started the DACA program by issuing an internal agency memorandum in 2012.  The DHS took this action after numerous bills in the Congress addressing the issue failed to pass over a number of years.  The DACA program illegal aliens that were minors at the time they illegally entered the United States to apply for a renewable, two-year reprieve from deportation.  The DACA program also gave these illegal immigrants work authorizations and access to taxpayer-funded benefits such as Social Security and Medicare.  Current estimates are that between one million and two million DACA-protected illegal immigrants are eligible for benefits  In 2014, the DHS attempted to expand DACA to provide amnesty and taxpayer benefits for over four million illegal aliens, but the expansion was foreclosed by a federal courts in 2015 for providing benefits to illegal aliens without following the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act as a substantive rule and for violating the Immigration and Naturalization Act.  Texas v. United States, 809 F.3d 134 (5th Cir. 2015), aff’g., 86 F. Supp. 3d 591 (S.D. Tex. 2015)In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decisions.  United States v. Texas, 136 S. Ct. 2271 (2016).  Based on these court holdings and because DACA was structured similarly, the U.S. Attorney General issued an opinion that the DACA was also legally defective.  Accordingly, in June of 2017, the DHS announced via an internal agency memorandum that it would end the illegal program by no longer accepting new applications or approving renewals other than for those whose benefits would expire in the next six months.  Activist groups sued and the Supreme Court ultimately determined that the action of the DHS was improper for failing to provide sufficient policy reasons for ending DACA.  In other words, what was created with the stroke of a pen couldn’t be eliminated with a stroke of a pen. 

Administrative Procedure Act (APA).  The APA was enacted in 1946.  Pub. L. No. 79-404, 60 Stat. 237 (Jun. 11, 1946).  The APA sets forth the rules governing how federal administrative agencies are to go about developing regulations.  It also gives the federal courts oversight authority over all agency actions.  The APA has been referred to as the “Constitution” for administrative law in the United States.  A key aspect of the APA is that any substantive agency rule that will be applied against an individual or business with the force of law (e.g., affecting rights of the regulated) must be submitted for public notice and comment.  5 U.S.C. §553.  The lack of DACA being subjected to public notice and comment when it was created and the Court’s requirement that it couldn’t be removed in like fashion struck a chord with the most senior member of the Court.  Justice Thomas authored a biting dissent that directly addressed this issue.  He wrote, “Without grounding its position in either the APA or precedent, the majority declares that DHS was required to overlook DACA’s obvious legal deficiencies and provide additional policy reasons and justifications before restoring the rule of law. This holding is incorrect, and it will hamstring all future agency attempts to undo actions that exceed statutory authority.”

Farmers and ranchers often deal with the rules developed by federal (and state) administrative agencies.  Those agency rules often involve substantive rights and, as such, are subject to the notice and comment requirements of the APA.  Failure to follow the APA often results in the restriction (or outright elimination) of property rights without the necessary procedural protections the APA affords. It’s also important that when administrative agencies overstep their bounds, a change in agency leadership has the ability to swiftly rescind prior illegal actions – a point Justice Thomas made clear in his dissent.

No. 2 - Public Trust Doctrine

Background.  Centuries ago, the seas were viewed as the common property of everyone - they weren’t subject to private use and ownership.  Instead, they were held in what was known as the “public trust.”  This concept was later adopted in English law, the Magna Carta, and became part of the common (non-statutory) law of individual states in the United States after the Revolution.  Over the years, this “public trust doctrine” has been primarily applied to access to the seashore and intertidal waters, although recently some courts have expanded its reach beyond its historical application.

But, any judicial expansion of the public trust doctrine results in curtailing vested property rights.  That’s a very important concern for agriculture because of agriculture’s necessary use of natural resources such as land, air, water, minerals and the like.  Restricting or eliminating property rights materially impacts agricultural operations in a negative manner.  It also creates an economic disincentive to use property in an economically (and socially) efficient manner.

How could an expanded public trust doctrine apply?  For farmers and ranchers, it could make a material detrimental impact on the farming operation.  For instance, many endangered species have habitat on privately owned land.  If wildlife and their habitat are deemed to be covered by the doctrine, farming and ranching practices could be effectively curtailed.  What about vested water rights?  A farming or ranching operation that has a vested water right to use water from a watercourse for crop irrigation or livestock watering purposes could find itself having those rights limited or eliminated if, under the public trust doctrine, a certain amount of water needed to be retained in the stream for a species of fish. 

One might argue that the government already has the ability to place those restrictions on farming operations, and that argument would be correct.  But, such restrictions exist via the legislative and regulatory process and are subject to constitutional due process, equal protection and just compensation protections.  Conversely, land-use restrictions via the public trust doctrine bypass those constitutional protections.  No compensation would need to be paid, because there was no governmental taking – a water right, for example, could be deemed to be subject to the “public trust” and enforced without the government paying for taking the right.  

Nevada Case.  Mineral County v. Lyon County, No. 75917, 2020 Nev. LEXIS 56 (Nev. Sup. Ct. Sept. 17, 2020)involved the state of Nevada’s water law system for allocating water rights and an attempt to take those rights without compensation via an expansion of the public use doctrine.  The state of Nevada appropriates water to users via the prior appropriation system – a “first-in-time, first-in-right” system.  Over 100 years ago, litigation over the Walker River Basin began between competing water users in the Walker River Basin.  The Basin covers approximately 4,000 square miles, beginning in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and ending in a lake in Nevada.  In 1936, a federal court issued a decree adjudicating water rights of various claimants to water in the basin via the prior appropriation doctrine. 

In 1987, an Indian Tribe intervened in the ongoing litigation to establish procedures to change the allocations of water rights subject to the decree.  Since that time, the state reviews all changes to applications under the decree.  In 1994, the plaintiff sought to modify the decree to ensure minimum stream flows into the lake under the “doctrine of maintenance of the public trust.”  The federal district (trial) court granted the plaintiff’s motion to intervene in 2013.  In 2015, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s amended complaint in intervention on the basis that the plaintiff lacked standing; that the public trust doctrine could only apply prospectively to bar granting appropriative rights; any retroactive application of the doctrine could constitute a taking requiring compensation; that the court lacked the authority to effectuate a taking; and that the lake was not part of the basin. 

On appeal, the federal appellate court determined that the plaintiff had standing, and that the lake was part of the basin.  The appellate court also held that whether the plaintiff could seek minimum flows depended on whether the public trust doctrine allowed the reallocation of rights that had been previously settled under the prior appropriation doctrine.  Thus, the appellate court certified two questions to the Nevada Supreme Court:  1) whether the public trust doctrine allowed such reallocation of rights; and 2) if so, whether doing so amounted to a “taking” of private property requiring “just compensation” under the Constitution. 

The state Supreme Court held that that public trust doctrine had already been implemented via the state’s prior appropriation system for allocating water rights and that the state’s statutory water laws is consistent with the public trust doctrine by requiring the state to consider the public interest when making allocating and administering water rights.  The state Supreme Court also determined that the legislature had expressly prohibited the reallocation of water rights that have not otherwise been abandoned or forfeited in accordance with state water law. 

The state Supreme Court limited the scope of its ruling to private water use of surface streams, lakes and groundwater such as uses for crops and livestock. The plaintiff has indicated that it will ask the federal appellate court for a determination of whether the public trust doctrine could be used to mandate water management methods.  If the court would rule that it does, the result would be an unfortunate disincentive to use water resources in an economically efficient manner (an application of the “tragedy of the commons”).  It would also provide a current example (in a negative way) of the application of the Coase Theorem (well-defined property rights overcome the problem of externalities).  See Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 3, October 1960. 

Oregon CaseIn Chernaik v. Brown, 367 Or. 143 (2020), the plaintiffs claimed that the public trust doctrine required the State of Oregon to protect various natural resources in the state from harm due to greenhouse gas emissions, “climate change,” and ocean acidification. The public trust doctrine has historically only applied to submerged and submersible lands underlying navigable waters as well as the navigable waters. The trial court rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments. On appeal the state Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting the test for expanding the doctrine the plaintiffs proposed. Under that test, the doctrine would extend to any resource that is not easily held or improved and is of great value to the public. The state Supreme Court held that the plaintiffs’ test was too broad to be adopted and remanded the case to the lower court. 

No. 1 – CARES Act, CFAP Programs and Disaster Legislations and CAA, 2021

Quite clearly, the biggest development of 2020 involved the numerous tax and loan provisions enacted in an attempt to offset the loss of income and closure of business resulting from the actions of various state governors as a result of the virus.  Also, the various pieces of legislation made some of the most significant changes to the retirement planning rules in about 15 years.  In addition, tax provisions were contained in disaster legislation that took effect in 2020.  In late December of 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA, 2021) was signed into law.  This law made significant changes to the existing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and provided another round of payments to farmers and ranchers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).  The CAA, 2021 also extended numerous tax provisions that were set to expire at the end of 2020.

Conclusion

2020 was another big year in the ag law and tax world.  There’s never a dull moment. 

January 13, 2021 in Environmental Law, Income Tax, Regulatory 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)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Eminent Domain and “Seriously Misleading” Financing Statements

Overview

Farmers and ranchers encounter numerous legal issues, some more often than others.  Some involve relationships with people that have gone awry, while others are a function of the economic situation surrounding the operation.  Still others involve technical contract issues involving the sale or transfer of agricultural commodities.  Many involve farmland in one fashion or another. 

In today’s article, I examine a couple of recent cases illustrating two legal issues that farmers and ranchers encounter – eminent domain and financing arrangements.  These are the topic of today’s post.

Eminent Domain

The power to “take” private property for public use (or for a public purpose) without the owner's consent is an inherent power of the federal and state government. However, the United States Constitution limits the government's eminent domain power by requiring federal and state governments to pay for what is “taken.” The “takings” clause of the Fifth Amendment has been held to apply to the states since 1897. Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Co., v. Chicago, 166 U.S. 226 (1897). 

The issue of what constitutes “just compensation” is often the thorny issue when a “taking” has occurred.  Often, the government will “low-ball” a landowner upon the exercise of its eminent domain power.  But, just compensation is to be tied to fair market value of the property taken.  The trick is how fair market value is to be determined.  That precise issue came up in a recent Nebraska case.

Recent case. In Russell v. Franklin County, 27 Neb. Ct. App. 684, 934 N.W.2d 517 (2019), the plaintiffs were landowners whose property consisted of 164 acres that was primarily cropland and pastureland. The property has been in the plaintiffs’ family for many years and includes cropland and pastureland. There was no residence on the property, and the plaintiffs used it for birdwatching, camping, hunting for game and mushrooms, and other recreational purposes. The plaintiffs gave the defendant county permission to cut down trees on the plaintiffs’ property in order to improve visibility for drivers on an adjacent county road. However, the defendant’s employees proceeded to cut down trees from an area not authorized for removal. In total, the defendant cut down 67 trees, affecting 1.67 acres of the plaintiffs’ land.

The plaintiffs filed an inverse condemnation action under Neb. Rev. Stat. §76-705, et seq. against the defendant, alleging an unlawful taking of their property for public use without just compensation. The plaintiffs claimed that the damages should be calculated by determining the replacement cost of the trees and soil from uprooted trees.  In other words, the “just compensation” should be what it would cost to put the property back to its status before the trees outside the permitted area were removed.  To that end, the plaintiffs relied upon an arborist, a salesperson from a nursery and garden center, and a representative from an excavating company to quantify their damages. Together, the experts calculated the cost to return the property to its prior condition to be $150,716.  Conversely, the defendant argued that the damages should be calculated by determining the difference in fair market value of the plaintiffs’ property before and after the trees had been cut down, which its expert said was $200.

The trial court agreed with the defendant and held that the appropriate measure of damages was the difference in the fair market value of the land. The trial court noted that the plaintiffs had argued their case under the state’s eminent domain statutes but were seeking damages based on a tort cause of action. On appeal, the plaintiffs’ argued the trial court applied the wrong measure of damages. The plaintiffs maintained their argument that the proper method for determining damages was to calculate the cost of restoring the property to its preexisting condition. The appellate court held that the correct measure for damages was in fact the difference in the fair market value of the land before and after the trees were cut down. The appellate court noted that Nebraska courts have consistently held that damages in eminent domain cases are measured based on market value of the property. Further, the appellate court pointed out that the state Supreme Court had previously held that vegetation is not valued separately and should only be considered in how its presence affects the fair market value of the land. Finally, the appellate court noted that the plaintiffs’ argument for calculating damages rested on cases that stemmed from tort actions. Because the plaintiffs had argued their case as one under the eminent domain statutes, they could not seek damages under an unlawful destruction of trees or negligence action. 

On further review, the Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed.  Russell v. Franklin County, 306 Neb. 546, 946 N.W.2d 648 (2020)

Financing Statement and Debtor’s Name

Occasionally, a lender loans money on an unsecured basis with the lender's security based solely on the borrower's reputation and promise to repay.  More likely, however, a lender will require collateral to make sure the borrower repays the loan. Usually, the lender requires the borrower to sign a written agreement (security agreement) giving the lender legal rights to the collateral (such as the borrower's crops, livestock or equipment) if the borrower fails to repay the loan. The situation where personal property or fixtures are used to secure payment of a debt or the performance of an obligation is called a secured transaction.  In this transaction, the lender receives a security interest in the debtor’s collateral.  If the debtor fails to repay the obligation, the creditor can have the collateral sold to repay the loan. 

Normally, a security interest in tangible property is perfected by filing a financing statement or by filing the security agreement as a financing statement. Indeed, filing a financing statement usually is the only practical way to perfect when the debtor is a farmer or rancher.

Under UCC § 9-506, a financing statement is effective even if it has minor errors or omissions unless the errors or omissions make the financing statement seriously misleading. A financing statement containing an incorrect debtor’s name is not seriously misleading if a search of the records of the filing office under the debtor’s correct legal name, using the filing office’s standard search logic, if any, discloses the financing statement filed under the incorrect name. However, some states have statutes or regulations defining the search logic to be used and may require that the debtor’s name be listed precisely in accordance with that logic.  A recent Minnesota bankruptcy case illustrates this point.

Recent case.  In a recent bankruptcy case from Minnesota, In re Rancher’s Legacy Meat Co., 616 B.R. 532 (Bankr. D. Minn. 2020), the debtor was a meat packing and processing company that was created by two people (one of which was a creditor) operating under the name of Unger Meat Company (UMC). The creditor leased a building to the debtor that was to be used as a processing plant. The creditor also provided startup funds through two promissory notes. The parties entered into a security agreement that granted the creditor a security interest in all of the debtor’s equipment, inventory, and accounts receivable.

The creditor perfected the security agreement by filing a financing statement with the state. UMC lost money and the creditor entered into an option agreement with a holding company to purchase UMC. Upon finalization of the sale, the holding company subsequently purchased the creditor’s shares in UMC and changed the name of the company to Rancher’s Legacy Meat Company. Fourteen months after the name change, the creditor filed a continuation statement listing the company’s name as UMC. Three years later, the creditor filed an amended continuation statement changing the debtor’s name to Rancher’s Legacy. The creditor began seeking collection on its notes and a few months later the debtor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The debtor argued that the appropriate procedure to re-perfect the creditor’s security interest was to file a new financing statement upon the debtor’s name change. The creditor claimed that the filings appropriately re-perfected the security interest, entitling the creditor to adequate protection payments. The bankruptcy court looked to local (Minnesota) law, to construe the status of the creditor’s lien. Under Minnesota law, a financing statement becomes seriously misleading and ineffective when it fails to provide the debtor’s correct name. Additionally, when the financing statement is ineffective because of seriously misleading information, an amendment must be made within four months to perfect a security interest.

The bankruptcy court held that the creditor’s security interest lapsed when four months had passed after the creditor’s financing statement became seriously misleading. Further, the bankruptcy court held that the creditor had the ability to re-perfect the security interest by filing a new financing statement. Although the security interest had lapsed, the language of the parties’ security agreement provided the creditor with the opportunity to file a second financing statement. The creditor argued that the multiple filings were sufficient to giver proper notice to any other creditors under the UCC. The bankruptcy court disagreed and held that multiple filings can occasionally give proper notice, but not when the notice had become seriously misleading.

The bankruptcy court held that the validity of the financing statement depended primarily on its ability to give notice of the security interest to other creditors. The purpose of the UCC’s notice system, the bankruptcy court noted, is to provide public notice of a secured interest without requiring parties to piece together several documents. Further, the bankruptcy court noted that the creditor’s argument for multiple filings failed because the original financing statement had lapsed. The creditor’s continuation statements were merely amendments to the original financing statement. However, the original financing statement had lapsed four months after it became seriously misleading. The bankruptcy court held that the continuation statements could not revive the financing statement once it had lapsed. Lastly, the creditor argued that the subsequent filings of the continuation statements should have been enough to re-perfect his security interest.

The bankruptcy court held that even when the creditor’s three filings were read in conjunction, they were ineffective to re-perfect his security interest. The bankruptcy court further pointed out that the UCC specifically provides that continuation statements cannot substitute for financing statements. As a result, the bankruptcy court declared that the creditor became an unsecured creditor at the time the security interests became unperfected. Because the creditor failed to re-perfect the security interest before the debtor filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the debtor was not required to provide the creditor with adequate protection payments. 

Conclusion

Eminent domain and getting a debtor’s name correct on a financing statement – two issues that farmers and ranchers frequently encounter.  Also, two issues that illustrate how farmers and ranchers can become entangled in legal matters so easily. 

October 23, 2020 in Environmental Law, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Public Trust Doctrine – A Camel’s Nose Under Agriculture’s Tent?

Overview

Centuries ago, the seas were viewed as the common property of everyone - they weren’t subject to private use and ownership.  Instead, they were held in what was known as the “public trust.”  This concept was later adopted in English law, the Magna Carta, and became part of the common (non-statutory) law of individual states in the United States after the Revolution.  Over the years, this “public trust doctrine” has been primarily applied to access to the seashore and intertidal waters, although recently some courts have expanded its reach beyond its historical application.

But, any judicial expansion of the public trust doctrine results in curtailing vested property rights.  That’s a very important concern for agriculture because of agriculture’s necessary use of natural resources such as land, air, water, minerals and the like.  Restricting or eliminating property rights materially impacts agricultural operations in a negative manner.  It also creates an economic disincentive to use property in an economically (and socially) efficient manner.

The impact of an expanded public use doctrine on agriculture – it’s the topic of today’s post.

In General

The U.S. Supreme Court’s first application of the public trust doctrine was in 1842 in Martin v. Lessee of Waddell, 41 U.S.367 (1842). In the case, the issue was who had the right to submerged land and oyster harvesting off the coast of New Jersey.  The Court, largely based on the language in the charter granted by the King to a Duke to establish a colony and for policy and economic reasons, determined that the land area in issue belonged to the state of New Jersey for the benefit of the people of the state.  The Court dealt with the issue again in 1892 in a case involving a railroad that had been granted a large amount of the Chicago harbor. Illinois Central Railroad Company v. Illinois, 146 U.S. 387 (1892).  The Court determined that the government cannot alienate (interfere with) the public’s right to access land under waters that are navigable in fact except for situations where the land involved wouldn’t interfere with the public’s ability to access the water or impair navigation. 

As generally applied in the United States (although there are differences among the states), an oceanfront property owner can exclude the public below the mean high tide (water) line.  See e.g., Gunderson v. State, 90 N.E. 3d 1171 (Ind. 2018)That’s the line of intersection of the land with the water's surface at the maximum height reached by a rising tide (e.g., high water mark).  Basically, it’s the debris line or the line where you would find fine shells.  However, traceable to the mid-1600s, Massachusetts and Maine recognize private property rights to the mean low tide line even though they do allow the public to have access to the shore between the low and high tide lines for "fishing, fowling and navigation.”  In addition, in Maine, the public can cross private shoreline property for scuba diving purposes.  McGarvey v. Whittredge, 28 A.3d 620 (Me. 2011). 

Other applications of the public trust doctrine involve the preservation of oil resources, fish stocks and crustacean beds.  Also, many lakes and navigable streams are maintained via the public trust doctrine for purposes of drinking water and recreation.

Expanding the Doctrine?

As noted above, the public trust doctrine is an ancient concept that guarantees certain rights to the public and causes other rights to be vested in private owners.  Indeed, in the United States, one of the fundamental Constitutional rights denoted in the Bill of Rights is that of the ownership of private property.  Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution.  As a fundamental Constitutional right, any infringement on the right is subject to “strict scrutiny” by a court.  Of course, the government (state and federal) retains the right to “take” private property for a public use, but only upon the payment of “just compensation.”  But, any expansion of the doctrine does an “end-run” around the claim that the government has committed a taking that requires compensation – the theory being that the public rights pre-existed and private property rights are automatically subject to them.  An expansion would bring non-justiciable political questions into the courts.  This technique has been tried with attempts to get the courts to decide allegations of harm and restrict usage of private property based on “global warming.”  Largely, the courts have refused citing lack of standing, congressional delegation to administrative agencies and that such claims are non-justiciable political questions.  See, e.g., American Electric Power Company v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011)

The notion that vested (e.g., settled, fixed, inalienable) rights can be usurped by an expanded application of the public trust doctrine makes it easier for regulation of property rights to occur without any concern that a non-physical taking of the property has occurred  that would require the private property owner to be compensated. That’s because the private property taken, the theory is, was a right that the owner never had to begin with.  In turn, an expanded public trust doctrine would require state (and, perhaps, federal) governments to take action to preserve public rights.  If they failed to do so, the legal system would be used to force action.  The courts, then, become a sort of “super legislature” via the public trust doctrine - a “court-packing” technique that is off the radar and out of public view.

How could an expanded public trust doctrine apply?  For farmers and ranchers, it could make a material detrimental impact on the farming operation.  For instance, many endangered species have habitat on privately owned land.  If wildlife and their habitat are deemed to be covered by the doctrine, farming and ranching practices could be effectively curtailed.  What about vested water rights?  A farming or ranching operation that has a vested water right to use water from a watercourse for crop irrigation or livestock watering purposes could find itself having those rights limited or eliminated if, under the public trust doctrine, a certain amount of water needed to be retained in the stream for a species of fish. 

One might argue that the government already has the ability to place those restrictions on farming operations, and that argument would be correct.  But, such restrictions exist via the legislative and regulatory process and are subject to constitutional due process, equal protection and just compensation protections.  Conversely, land-use restrictions via the public trust doctrine bypass those constitutional protections.  No compensation would need to be paid, because there was no governmental taking – a water right, for example, could be deemed to be subject to the “public trust” and enforced without the government paying for taking the right.  That’s a much different outcome than the government imposing regulations on property uses that trigger compensation for an unconstitutional regulatory taking.  In essence the government, via the doctrine, acquires an easement for the protection of certain designated natural resources (such as wildlife and wildlife habitat) that are deemed to be in the public interest.  Instead of elected politicians making these decisions and being accountable to voters, the courts are the enforcers. 

Also, an expansion of the public trust doctrine, from an economic standpoint, would have the unintended consequence of diminishing the incentive of landowners to invest in and improve the natural resource at issue. Private property has value because of the ability to exclude others from use and ownership.  A fundamental principle of economics is that the ability to exclude others from use and ownership increases the owner’s incentive to use the resource wisely.  This was, indeed, borne out in Bitterroot River Protective Association v. Bitterroot Conservation District, 346 Mont. 507 (2008).    

Recent Case

Mineral County v. Lyon County, No. 75917, 2020 Nev. LEXIS 56 (Nev. Sup. Ct. Sept. 17, 2020), involved the state of Nevada’s water law system for allocating water rights and an attempt to take those rights without compensation via an expansion of the public use doctrine.  The state of Nevada appropriates water to users via the prior appropriation system – a “first-in-time, first-in-right” system.  Over 100 years ago, litigation over the Walker River Basin began between competing water users in the Walker River Basin.  The Basin covers approximately 4,000 square miles, beginning in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and ending in a lake in Nevada.  In 1936, a federal court issued a decree adjudicating water rights of various claimants to water in the basin via the prior appropriation doctrine. 

In 1987, an Indian Tribe intervened in the ongoing litigation to establish procedures to change the allocations of water rights subject to the decree.  Since that time, the state reviews all changes to applications under the decree.  In 1994, the plaintiff sought to modify the decree to ensure minimum stream flows into the lake under the “doctrine of maintenance of the public trust.”  The federal district (trial) court granted the plaintiff’s motion to intervene in 2013.  In 2015, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s amended complaint in intervention on the basis that the plaintiff lacked standing; that the public trust doctrine could only apply prospectively to bar granting appropriative rights; any retroactive application of the doctrine could constitute a taking requiring compensation; that the court lacked the authority to effectuate a taking; and that the lake was not part of the basin. 

On appeal, the federal appellate court determined that the plaintiff had standing and that the lake was part of the basin.  The appellate court also held that whether the plaintiff could seek minimum flows depended on whether the public trust doctrine allowed the reallocation of rights that had been previously settled under the prior appropriation doctrine.  Thus, the appellate court certified two questions to the Nevada Supreme Court:  1) whether the public trust doctrine allowed such reallocation of rights; and 2) if so, whether doing so amounted to a “taking” of private property requiring “just compensation” under the Constitution. 

The state Supreme Court held that that public trust doctrine had already been implemented via the state’s prior appropriation system for allocating water rights and that the state’s statutory water laws is consistent with the public trust doctrine by requiring the state to consider the public interest when making allocating and administering water rights.  The state Supreme Court also determined that the legislature had expressly prohibited the reallocation of water rights that have not otherwise been abandoned or forfeited in accordance with state water law. 

The state Supreme Court limited the scope of its ruling to private water use of surface streams, lakes and groundwater such as uses for crops and livestock. The plaintiff has indicated that it will ask the federal appellate court for a determination of whether the public trust doctrine could be used to mandate water management methods.  If the court would rule that it does, the result would be an unfortunate disincentive to use water resources in an economically efficient manner (an application of the “tragedy of the commons”).  It would also provide a current example (in a negative way) of the application of the Coase Theorem (well-defined property rights overcome the problem of externalities).  See Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 3, October 1960. 

Conclusion

Clearly, the state and federal governments can regulate natural resources.  The power to do so is vested in state legislatures and the Congress.  As such, the power is limited by Constitutional protections and by the voting public.  But, an expansion of the public trust doctrine would void those constraints on a theory that a property right that doesn’t exist cannot be taken.  The courts would become a “super legislature” gaining the authority to make public policy decisions.  That would further blur the distinction between legislative bodies and the judiciary and the fundamental legal principle of the separation of powers. 

An expanded public trust doctrine is a big “camel’s nose under the tent” for agriculture.  Farmers and ranchers beware.

October 20, 2020 in Environmental Law, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 12, 2020

Principles of Agricultural Law

PrinciplesForBlog2020Fall-cropped

Overview

The fields of agricultural law and agricultural taxation are dynamic.  Law and tax impacts the daily life of a farmer, rancher, agribusiness and rural landowner practically on a daily basis.  Whether that is good or bad is not really the question.  The point is that it’s the reality.  Lack of familiarity with the basic fundamental and applicable rules and principles can turn out to be very costly.  As a result of these numerous intersections, and the fact that the rules applicable to those engaged in farming are often different from non-farmers, I started out just over 25 years ago to develop a textbook that addressed the major issues that a farmer or rancher and their legal and tax counsel should be aware of.  After three years, the book was complete – Principles of Agricultural Law - and it’s been updated twice annually since that time. 

The 47th edition is now complete, and it’s the topic of today’s post – Principles of Agricultural Law.

Subject Areas

The text is designed to be useful to farmers and ranchers; agribusiness professionals; ag lenders; educational professionals; lawyers, CPAs and other tax preparers; undergraduate and law students; and those that simply want to learn more about legal and tax issues.  The text covers a wide range of topics.  Here’s just a sample of what is covered:

Ag contracts.  Farmers and ranchers engage in many contractual situations, including ag leases, to purchase contracts.  The potential perils of verbal contracts are numerous and can lead to unnecessary litigation. What if a commodity is sold under forward contract and a weather event destroys the crop before it is harvested?  When does the law require a contract to be in writing?  For purchases of goods, do any warranties apply?  What remedies are available upon breach? If a lawsuit needs to be brought to enforce a contract, how soon must it be filed? Is a liability release form necessary?  Is it valid?  What happens when a contract breach occurs?  What is the remedy? 

Ag financing.  Farmers and ranchers are often quite dependent on borrowing money for keeping their operations running.  What are the rules surrounding ag finance?  This is a big issue for lenders also?  What about dealing with an ag cooperative and the issue of liens?  What are the priority rules with respect to the various types of liens that a farmer might have to deal with? 

Ag bankruptcy.  A unique set of rules can apply to farmers that file bankruptcy.  Chapter 12 bankruptcy allows farmers to de-prioritize taxes.  That can be a huge benefit.  Knowing how best to utilize those rules is very beneficial.  That’s especially true with the unsettled issue of whether Payment Protection Program (PPP) funds can be utilized by a farmer in bankruptcy.  The courts are split on that issue.

Income tax.  Tax and tax planning permeate daily life.  Deferral contracts; depreciation; installment sales; like-kind exchanges; credits; losses; income averaging; reporting government payments; etc.  The list could go on and on.  Having a basic understanding of the rules and the opportunities available can add a lot to the bottom line of the farming or ranching operation as well as help minimize the bleeding when times are tough.

Real property.  Of course, land is typically the biggest asset in terms of value for a farming and ranching operation.  But, land ownership brings with it many potential legal issues.  Where is the property line?  How is a dispute over a boundary resolved?  Who is responsible for building and maintaining a fence?  What if there is an easement over part of the farm?  Does an abandoned rail line create an issue?  What if land is bought or sold under an installment contract?  How do the like-kind exchange rules work when farmland is traded? 

Estate planning.  While the federal estate tax is not a concern for most people and the vast majority of farming and ranching operations, when it does apply it’s a major issue that requires planning.  What are the rules governing property passage at death?  Should property be gifted during life?  What happens to property passage at death if there is no will?  How can family conflicts be minimized post-death?  Does the manner in which property is owned matter?  What are the applicable tax rules?  These are all important questions.

Business planning.  One of the biggest issues for many farm and ranch families is how to properly structure the business so that it can be passed on to subsequent generations and remain viable economically.  What’s the best entity choice?  What are the options?  Of course, tax planning is a critical part of the business transition process.

Cooperatives.  Many ag producers are patrons of cooperatives.  That relationship creates unique legal and tax issues.  Of course, the tax law enacted near the end of 2017 modified an existing deduction for patrons of ag cooperatives.  Those rules are very complex.  What are the responsibilities of cooperative board members? 

Civil liabilities.  The legal issues are enormous in this category.  Nuisance law; liability to trespassers and others on the property; rules governing conduct in a multitude of situations; liability for the spread of noxious weeds; liability for an employee’s on-the-job injuries; livestock trespass; and on and on the issues go.  Agritourism is a very big thing for some farmers, but does it increase liability potential?  Nuisance issues are also important in agriculture.  It’s useful to know how the courts handle these various situations.

Criminal liabilities.  This topic is not one that is often thought of, but the implications can be monstrous.  Often, for a farmer or rancher or rural landowner, the possibility of criminal allegations can arise upon (sometimes) inadvertent violation of environmental laws.  Even protecting livestock from predators can give rise to unexpected criminal liability.  Mail fraud can also arise with respect to the participation in federal farm programs.  The areas of life potentially impacted with criminal penalties are worth knowing, as well as knowing how to avoid tripping into them.

Water law.  Of course, water is essential to agricultural production.  Water issues vary across the country, but they tend to focus around being able to have rights to water in the time of shortage and moving the diversion point of water.  Also, water quality issues are important.  In essence, knowing whether a tract of land has a water right associated with it, how to acquire a water right, and the relative strength of that water rights are critical to understand.

Environmental law.  It seems that agricultural and the environment are constantly in the news.  The Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other federal (and state) laws and regulations can have a big impact on a farming or ranching operation.  Just think of the issues with the USDA’s Swampbuster rules that have arisen over the past 30-plus years.  What constitutes a regulatory taking of property that requires the payment of compensation under the Constitution?  It’s good to know where the lines are drawn and how to stay out of (expensive) trouble.

Regulatory law.  Agriculture is a very heavily regulated industry.  Animals and plants, commodities and food products are all subject to a great deal of regulation at both the federal and state level.  Antitrust laws are also important to agriculture because of the highly concentrated markets that farmers buy inputs from and sell commodities into.  Where are the lines drawn?  How can an ag operation best position itself to negotiate the myriad of rules?   

Conclusion

It is always encouraging to me to see students, farmers and ranchers, agribusiness and tax professionals get interested in the subject matter and see the relevance of material to their personal and business lives. Agricultural law and taxation is reality.  It’s not merely academic.  The Principles text is one that can be very helpful to not only those engaged in agriculture, but also for those advising agricultural producers.  It’s also a great reference tool for Extension educators. It’s also a great investment for any farmer – and it’s updated twice annually to keep the reader on top of current developments that impact agriculture.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy, perhaps even as a Christmas gift, you can visit the link here:  http://washburnlaw.edu/practicalexperience/agriculturallaw/waltr/principlesofagriculturallaw/index.html.  Instructors that adopt the text for a course are entitled to a free copy.  The book is available in print and CD versions.  Also, for instructors, a complete set of Powerpoint slides is available via separate purchase.  Sample exams and work problems are also available.  You may also contact me directly to obtain a copy.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy, you can visit the link here:  http://washburnlaw.edu/practicalexperience/agriculturallaw/waltr/principlesofagriculturallaw/index.html.  You may also contact me directly. 

October 12, 2020 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)

Friday, October 9, 2020

TMDL Requirements - The EPA’s Federalization of Agriculture

Overview

Pollution from nonpoint agricultural sources (diffused surface runoff), particularly that originating from soil erosion, is more extensive than pollution resulting from feedlot operations.  But, because nonpoint   source pollution is largely dependent upon local topographical conditions, the Congress believed it was best left to the control of the states through the continuing planning process required by §303 (relating to water quality standards) and §208 (areawide waste management plans) of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  However, by virtue of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asserts that it has the final say on farming activities by dictating the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that can come from a particular tract. 

The TMDL requirement and the extent EPA can use it to control farming practices – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Background

Section 303 of the CWA requires states to adopt water-quality standards, to the extent not previously done, and to carry forward those already adopted subject to EPA approval. Standards are to be set for both interstate and intrastate waters, and the standards must be updated periodically and submitted to EPA for review and approval. The standards are to take into account the unique needs of each waterway including “propagation of fish and wildlife” as well as “agricultural...and other purposes.” Any state that fails to set water quality standards is subject to the EPA imposing its own standards on the state. Section 303 does not exempt any rivers or waters, but covers all waters to the full extent of federal authority over navigable waters.

The states are to establish total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for watercourses that fail to meet water quality standards after the application of controls on point sources.  But, a state must engage in the formal rulemaking process before a TMDL can be used as the basis for a CWA discharge permit.  See, e.g., Fairfield County Board of Commissioners v. Nally, 143 Ohio St. 3d 93 (Ohio Sup. Ct. 2015). A TMDL establishes the maximum amount of a pollutant that can be discharged or “loaded” into the water at issue from all combined sources on a daily basis and still permit that water to meet water quality standards. See, e.g., Anacostia Riverkeeper, Inc., et al. v. Jackson, 713 F. Supp. 2d. 50 (D. D.C. 2010)A TMDL must be set “at a level necessary to implement water quality standards.”  33 U.S.C. § 1313(d)(1)(C).  The calculation must be on a daily basis.  Friends of the Earth v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 446 F.3d 140 (D.C. Cir. 2006)

The Congress did not define TMDL in the CWA, but the EPA’s regulations break it into a “waste load allocation” for point sources and a “load allocation” for nonpoint sources. A TMDL’s purpose is to limit the amount of pollutants in a watercourse on any particular date.

Federal Control of Nonpoint Source Pollutants?

The big issue.  A significant question is whether the EPA has the authority to regulate nonpoint source pollutants under §303 of the CWA through the TMDL process and require reductions in nonpoint source discharges. This is an important issue for agriculture because the primary source of agricultural pollution is nonpoint source. Indeed, the TMDL requirements were challenged in early 2000 by farm interests as being inapplicable to nonpoint source pollution. In Pronsolino v. Marcus, 91 F. Supp. 2d 1337 (N.D. Cal. 2000), aff’d, sub. nom., Pronsolino v. Nastri, 291 F.3d 1123 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. den., 539 U.S. 926 (2003), the plaintiffs had obtained a permit to harvest timber and became subject to restrictions designed to reduce soil erosion. The state (California) submitted its § 303(d) list to EPA in 1992 and EPA disapproved the list because it excluded 17 water segments that failed to meet water quality standards. Sixteen of those water segments were impaired solely by nonpoint source pollution. EPA, pursuant to § 303(d)(2), established a new list including these waters. The state failed to develop TMDLs for these waters, environmental groups sued EPA to compel development of TMDLs, and EPA entered into a consent decree requiring it to complete TMDLs for these waters if the state failed to do so by March 18, 1998. The state missed the deadline and EPA established the TMDLs. 

The plaintiffs theorized that the restrictions were a by-product of the TMDL criterion and challenged the EPA’s authority to impose TMDL requirements on rivers polluted only by timber-harvesting and other nonpoint sources. The court, however, held that the TMDL requirements, as a comprehensive water-quality standard under the CWA, were designed to apply to every navigable river and water in the country – that is, every navigable water of the United States or “WOTUS.”. Although the court noted that the CWA applied TMDL to point and nonpoint sources differently, it stressed that TMDL was clearly authorized for nonpoint sources. Thus, according to the court, any polluted waterway – whether the source of pollution is point or nonpoint – is subject to TMDL requirements. The case was affirmed on appeal, but the appellate court, in dictum, noted that the statute did not require states to actually reduce nonpoint source pollution flowing into these waters. The appellate court made clear that TMDL implementation of nonpoint source pollution is a matter reserved to the states. Thus, the court appeared to substantially limit the EPA’s ability to require nonpoint source pollution reduction - the EPA can develop TMDLs that highlight the need for aggressive control of nonpoint source pollution, but cannot address nonpoint source pollution by itself. Where a state fails to establish TMDLs, the EPA has the power to implement them.  See also American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., 984 F. Supp. 2d 289 (M.D. Pa. 2013).

Chesapeake Bay.  In 2010, the EPA published a TMDL of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that can be released into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The TMDL set forth a timetable for compliance by the affected states. In addition, states were required to determine how much agriculture had to reduce runoff by adopting new technology and conservation practices. The new rules were legally challenged in 2011 on the basis that the EPA lacked the authority to regulate individual pollutants from farmland and other specific sources.  In 2014, attorneys general from 21 states joined the lawsuit. In mid-2015, the court held that likely economic injury in the form of higher compliance costs was sufficient to confer standing to challenge the TMDL, and that the EPA had acted within its authority under 33 U.S.C. §1251(d) in developing the TMDL.  The court deferred to the EPA’s judgment on the basis that the statutory definition of TMDL was ambiguous – it could reasonably be interpreted to apply to allocations from various sources and geographic areas, etc.  American Farm Bureau, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., 792 F.3d 281 (3d Cir. 2015)The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.  Id.  cert. den., 136 S. Ct. 1246 (2016). 

Presently, the litigation over the Chesapeake Bay TMDL is ongoing on the claim that New York and Pennsylvania are not within the standards of the TMDL. 

Other TMDL Details 

Citizen suits?  Traditionally, the courts have not allowed disaffected persons to bring lawsuits claiming an alleged violation of a state water quality standard established in accordance with CWA §303. The standards are generally believed to be too ambiguous and nonspecific. Only specific effluent limitations set forth in an NPDES permit have historically been subject to legal challenge. However, in 1996, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a challenge to an alleged violation of a state water quality standard. Northwest Environmental Advocates v. Portland, 74 F.3d 945 (9th Cir. 1996), cert. den., 518 U.S. 1018 (1996).

Conclusion

Clearly, the Congress did not write language into the CWA that allows the EPA to regulate nonpoint sources of pollution such as run-off from farm fields.  The Congress left that matter up to the states.  But, through the TMDL process, the EPA is able to get around that Congressional barricade.  Via TMDL requirements, the EPA has grabbed the power to say where farming will occur by establishing limits for sediments and nutrients for individual farms.  These are essentially land use decisions that are traditionally within the domain of local governmental bodies, and not a federal government agency.  The EPA’s approach is also incredibly costly.  The Maryland School of Public Policy has estimated that the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL from 2010-2025 could be as much as $80 billion.   https://www.chesapeakebay.net/channel_files/19062/660_--_environmental_workshop_report,_final,_spring_2012.pdf.

TMDLs – yet another reason why the definition of a WOTUS matters.

October 9, 2020 in Environmental Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Prior Converted Cropland Exception - More Troubles Ahead?

Overview

The federal government’s jurisdiction over “wetlands” continues to be a contentious issue.  Recently, I completed a three-part series on the USDA/NRCS Final Rule of August 28, 2020, on highly erodible land and wetland.  That series raised some questions, several of which involved the exemption for “prior converted cropland” contained in the “Swampbuster” provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill.  The exemption was later adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) for purposes of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

How does the exception apply?  When does it not apply?  What’s the history behind the exception?  What have the courts had to say about it? 

The prior converted cropland exemption from wetland regulation – it’s the topic of today’s post. 

Swampbuster

The conservation-compliance provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill introduced the concept of “Swampbuster.”  Swampbuster was introduced into the Congress in January of 1985.  Later, in 1985, the Swampbuster provisions were introduced into the House Agriculture Committee as an amendment to Title XII resource conservation, to deny federal farm program benefits to persons planting agricultural commodities for harvest on converted wetlands. 16 U.S.C. § 3821(a)-(b).  The USDA defines “converted wetland” as a wetland that has been drained, dredged, filled, leveled, or otherwise manipulated (including…the removal of woody vegetation or any activity that results in impairing or reducing the flow and circulation of water) for the purpose of or to have the effect of making possible the production of an agricultural commodity without further application of the manipulations described herein if: (i) such production would not have been possible but for such action, and (ii) before such action such land was wetland, farmed wetland, or farmed-wetland pasture and was neither highly erodible land nor highly erodible cropland. 7 C.F.R. § 12.2(a).

The report of the conference committee a week before the 1985 Farm Bill was signed into law stated that wetland conversion was considered to be “commenced” when a person had obligated funds or begun actual modification of a wetland.

The final Swampbuster rules were issued in 1987 and greatly differed from the interim rules.  The final Swampbuster rules eliminated the right to claim prior investment as a commenced conversion.  Added were farmed wetlands, abandoned cropland, active pursuit requirements, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concurrence, a complicated “commenced determination” application procedure, and special treatment for prairie potholes. Under the “commenced conversion” rules, an individual producer or a drainage district is exempt from Swampbuster restrictions if drainage work began before December 23, 1985 (the effective date of the 1985 Farm Bill).  This is the genesis of the “prior converted cropland” exemption.    

The final rules defined “farmed wetlands” as playa, potholes, and other seasonally flooded wetlands that were manipulated before December 23, 1985, but still exhibited wetland characteristics.  Drains affecting these areas can be maintained, but the scope and effect of the original drainage system cannot be exceeded. 7 C.F.R. § 12.33(b).  Prior converted wetlands can be farmed, but they revert to protected status once abandoned. Abandonment occurs after five years of inactivity and can happen in one year if there is intent to abandon.  A prior converted wetland is a wetland that was totally drained before December 23, 1985.  If a wetland was drained before December 23, 1985, but wetland characteristics remain, it is a “farmed wetland” and only the original scope and effect of the drainage of the affected land can be maintained.  Barthel v. Unites Stated Department of Agriculture, 181 F.3d 934 (8th Cir. 1999).

1996 Farm Bill

Under the 1996 Farm Bill, a farmed wetland located in a cropped field can be drained without sacrificing farm program benefit eligibility if another wetland is created elsewhere. Thus, through “mitigation,” a farmed wetland can be moved to an out-of-the- way location. In addition, the 1996 legislation provides a good faith exemption to producers who inadvertently drain a wetland. If the wetland is restored within one year of drainage, no penalty applies. The legislation also revises the concept of “abandonment” for purposes of USDA farm program eligibility only.  Cropland with a certified wetland delineation, such as “prior converted” or “farmed wetland” is to maintain that status, as long as the land is used for agricultural production. In accordance with an approved plan, a landowner may allow an area to revert to wetland status and then convert it back to its previous status without violating Swampbuster. Also, while there is an exception from the Swampbuster restrictions for prior converted wetland that returns to wetland status after December 23, 1985, as a result of specified events.  16 U.S.C. §3822(b)(2)(D).   The exception does not apply, however, if the land had returned to wetland status before or as of December 23, 1985. 

Also, farm program payments are not forfeited for producing agricultural commodities on converted wetland if the land was determined to be “farmed wetland” or “farmed wetland pasture,” and NRCS determines that the conversion would have only a minimal effect on the wetland functions and values of wetlands in the area. 16 U.S.C. § 3822(f); 7 C.F.R. § 12.30.  See, e.g., Rosenau v. Farm Service Agency, 395 F. Supp. 2d 868 (D. N.D. 2005); Holly Hills Farm Corp. v. United States, 447 F.3d 258 (4th Cir. 2006), aff’g, No. 3.04CV856, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12875 (E.D. Va. Jun. 29, 2005).

2020 NRCS Circular

The NRCS recently released Circular 180-20-1 with an effective date of September 1, 2020.  It can be found here:  https://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=45476.wba.  Its stated claim is “To provide updated policy and guidance for the wetland and highly erodible land conservation policy in Title 180, National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM), 5th Edition.  The Circular states that a new icon (a green triangle with a dot in the center) will be placed on NRCS-certified wetland determination (CWD) maps.  For lengthy water features, the green dot will appear every half-mile.  Perhaps such clear designation will make it easier for farmers to challenge the determinations – the determinations are often wrong.  But, the point is that the use of the green dot is to identify cropland areas that might be subject to federal government jurisdiction.  Any farmland containing a green dot could mean that the owner/operator will have to complete the NRCS Form CPA-026, available here:  https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_020039.pdf.  This Form notifies the government that the land contains prior converted wetland that could be subject to federal regulations under either the Swampbuster provisions or the CWA.

In addition, the Circular states that CWD map legend will include the cautionary icon with the identifier: “Potential Jurisdictional Waters (PJW).”  The “remarks” section of Form NRCS-CPA-026 will caution that the area flagged by the icon could be within the jurisdiction of the CWA, and beyond the scope of the FSA CWD. “Areas identified as Potential Jurisdictional Waters (PJW) are not subject to the Food Security Act but are potentially subject to the Clean Water Act.  Related to this, the Circular attempts to clarify when the NRCS will provide CWA-related technical assistance to the Farm Service Agency (FSA). On this point, the Circular states, “NRCS may also provide technical assistance on prior converted cropland abandonment determinations which may affect CWA exclusion applicability.”  Likewise, the Circular states, “In some cases, it may be helpful to a USDA client to share information NRCS gathered during a previously conducted…site visit for FSA purposes with the USACE [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] or EPA.”  For farmers (and their lawyers) who have been involved in wetland matters administratively and/or in the courts, that last quote should bother you.  It spells bureaucratic trouble.

Recent Cases

The following is a short summary of some of the relatively recent cases involving prior converted wetland under Swampbuster:

  • In Horn Farms, Inc. v. Johanns, 397 F.3d 472 (7th Cir. 2005), rev’g, 319 F. Supp. 2d 902 (N.D. Ind. 2004), cert. den., 547 U.S. 1018 (2006), the plaintiff was found to be in violation of Swampbuster for producing covered commodities on converted wetland. The plaintiff claimed that the conversion had occurred before the Swampbuster rules took effect on December 23, 1985.  The USDA determined that because the site had returned to wetland status as of the effective date of Swampbuster, the prior converted exemption of 16 U.S.C. 3822(b)(2)(D) did not apply.  The appellate court, reversing the trial court, agreed.   
  • Groenendyk v. Johanns, No. 4:06-cv-00214 JAJ, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11153 (S.D. Iowa Feb. 12, 2008). In this case, the NRCS designated a 0.7-acre portion of the plaintiff’s field as wetland and determined that the prior converted wetland exemption did not apply.  After exhausting administrative appeals, the plaintiff sought judicial review to overturn the designation.  The court upheld the government’s decision that the 0.7-acre site was not exempt as prior converted wetland because the government’s determination was not capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise unlawful.  While the basic facts and data were in dispute, the court gave the government substantial deference on its determination. 
  • Riechenbach v. United States Department of Agriculture, No. 1:10-cv-994-WTL-TAB, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1328 (S.D. Ind. Jan. 4, 2013) involved central Indiana farmland for which the plaintiffs sought the FSA’s permission to remove timber from existing fence rows. The NRCS examined the property and found a potential wetland violation, ultimately resulting in a determination that the plaintiff had converted 4.4 acres of wetland.  Later, the NRCS expanded the converted wetland acres to five.  Mediation was denied.  The plaintiffs claimed that the area in question was prior converted cropland.  After exhausting administrative appeals, the plaintiffs sought judicial review.  The plaintiffs pointed to the existence of clay tile associated with a drainage system created in 1900 according to county records, and plastic tile dating to 1988.  The NRCS claimed that the site in question had reverted to wetland status by 1985 based on aerial photos taken from 1981 to 1987 that showed the presence of wetland vegetation.  While the plaintiffs argued that the photos were insufficient evidence, they failed to raise that argument during the administrative appeal process and the court would not entertain it and dismissed the case. 
  • The timing of wetland conversion to crop production was again at issue in Maple Drive Farms Family Limited Partnership v. Vilsack, 781 F.3d 837 (6th Cir. 2015), rev’g., No. 1:11-CV-00692, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176539 (W.D. Mich. Dec. 13, 2012). The plaintiff had installed farm field drainage tile in the 1960s to allow crop production on the tract in issue. The defendant, however, claimed that the plaintiff converted wetland in violation of Swampbuster on the basis that crop production had ceased before the effective date of the Swampbuster provisions and had reverted to wetland status when Swampbuster went into effect.  The court agreed with the defendant’s interpretation of “vague” statutory language in holding that the prior converted wetland exemption applied only to wetland that had been converted to crop production before December 23, 1985, and remained converted as of December 23, 1985 and did not exhibit wetland characteristics.  The case was reversed, however, because the defendant was required to grant the plaintiff a minimal-effect exemption and had failed to consider the plaintiff’s minimal-effect evidence. 
  • In Davids v. United States Department of Agriculture, No. 17-CV-3091-LRR, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 222979 (N.D. Iowa Oct. 16, 2018), the plaintiff installed farm field drainage tile in 2011. The next year, the county completed a drainage project. The plaintiff then filed USDA Form AD-1026 to indicate that a new drainage system existed on the land that the NRCS had not evaluated.  After a field visit, the NRCS determined that 1.55 acres of the plaintiff’s land was converted wetland as a result of the drain tile installation.  No “minimal effect” determination was made that would have exempted the 1.55 acres from Swampbuster under 16 U.S.C. 3822(f).  The plaintiff claimed that the 1.55 acres was prior converted wetland based on an expert’s report.  The government rejected the expert’s report as to whether the land should be classified as prior converted wetland because it did not constitute a functional assessment of a wetland.  After exhausting administrative remedies, the plaintiff sought judicial review.  The court determined that under the administrative rules in place during the relevant timeframe, the plaintiff bore the burden to request a minimal effect functional assessment determination (even though Form AD-1026 does not provide any place for a farmer to specifically request that NRCS perform a functional assessment) because the wetland had already been converted when the request for such a determination was made.  As such, the government was not required to make a functional assessment determination and the 1.55 acres remained classified as converted wetland rather than prior converted wetland. 

Conclusion    

The prior converted wetland rule was designed to be an important exemption for farmers who had already converted wetland to cropland before the Swampbuster rules took effect.  It has proven to be a tricky snare for farmers.  In addition, even if the Swampbuster hurdle is cleared, prior converted wetland can still be regulated by the EPA of the COE.  I will write more on that issue in a future article.

September 27, 2020 in Environmental Law | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

NRCS Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands Conservation Final Rule – Clearer Guidance for Farmers or Loss of Property Rights? – Part Three

Overview

In Parts One and Two of this three-part series, I have gone through various parts of the preamble to the recently issued USDA/NRCS Final Rule involving highly erodible land and wetland.  The rule is found at 85 FR 53137 and became effective August 28, 2020.  In today’s article I conclude my discussion of the nuances of additional sections of the preamble to the Final Rule.  The question is whether, as NRCS claims, the Final Rule bring clarity to the NRCS delineation process.  Is that true?  Will the Final Rule help farmers in avoiding a violation of the rules that could cause loss of farm program benefits and additional fines and penalties?

In this concluding article on the preamble to the Final Rule, I look at more areas that are of concern to farmers and ranchers.  Part Three of the three-part series on the NRCS Final rule involving highly erodible land and wetland – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Setback Distance Concerns

In this section, the NRCS states that it is currently pursuing “improvements to the methods which are used to provide tile drainage setback distances from mapped wetlands to USDA program participants.”  That’s an interesting way to put it.  Presently, the NRCS is attempting to employ in the prairie pothole states a tripling of the calculated offset requirement where there is a preponderance of potential ground water discharge soils adjoining the farmed wetland.  This is already happening in Iowa at the state level.  There, a farmer must triple the setback or wait for the new requirements to be promulgated.  For example, a recent Iowa matter involved a 70-acre farmed wetland pothole where the adjoining common soils were classified as discharge soils.  The triple setback requirement increases the land area in which drain tile improvements cannot be made from 80 acres to more than 200 acres.  This diminishes the value and profitability of the farm substantially.

The NRCS approach basically amounts to a regulatory “land-grab” in areas where drainage tile is already in place in the existing pothole and adjoining soils.  Wetland hydrology is supposed to be determined under normal or average circumstances.  Indeed, existing regulations specify that “normal circumstances” of the land does not refer to normal climate conditions but instead refers to soil and hydrologic conditions normally present without regard to the removal of vegetation.  See, e.g., Boucher v. United States Department of Agriculture, 149 F. Supp. 3d 1045 (S.D. Ind. 2016).  While it is true that under very wet conditions these soils may experience some groundwater discharge, it is also true that under normal conditions they rarely do because existing drainage tile normally keeps the water table below the surface. 

Wetland Hydrology Indicators Section

In this section the NRCS states that the “USDA appreciates support for the changes made by the interim rule and the expressed concerns.  In response, USDA is making changes in this final rule as explained below.”  Thus, the NRCS has made material changes to the rule without inviting additional public comment.  These changes are greatly impactful in the prairie pothole states.

In a prior post, it was noted that the NRCS failed to complete the administrative procedures associated with the interim final rule that was published in September 1996.  Now NRCS asserts that the September 6, 1996 interim rule first established that “playa, pocosin, and pothole farmed wetlands and all farmed wetland pasture have required periods of inundation, ponding, or saturation.”  This is the origin of the 7-days ponding criteria - an arbitrary NRCS determination in an uncompleted interim final rule for which public comments were ignored.  The federal definition of wetland in the Clean Water Act does not have a ponding criteria.  The criteria as set forth in the 1985 Farm Bill is that a particular tract constitutes a wetland if it has (1) the presence of hydric soil; (2) wetland hydrology (soil inundation for at least seven days or saturated for at least 14 days during the growing season); and (3) the prevalence of hydrophytic plants under undisturbed conditions. In other words, to be a wetland, a tract must have hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation and wetland hydrology. All three are required.  See, e.g., B&D Land & Livestock Co. v. Schafer, 584 F. Supp. 2d 1182 (N.D. Iowa 2008).  However, the NRCS intends to move forward with its definition of farmed wetland based upon an incomplete interim final rule and Food Security Act Wetland Identification Procedures located in its National Food Security Act Manual, Part 514, which was not subjected to the public notice and comment procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act. 

The NRCS claims that “wetland hydrology field indicators are a valid and reliable method for the identification of wetland hydrology.”  The NRCS further asserts that “it would not be an efficient use of analytic techniques or onsite hydrology monitoring in every farmed wetland determination when other valid methods exist.  Let’s pick that claim apart.  The NRCS is claiming that its methods are valid because NRCS has made an ipse dixit determination that the methods are valid.  However, the NRCS has never monitored tests of mapped farmed wetland to determine the accuracy of its methods.

In 1991 the Congress directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency to engage the National Research Council (NRC) to review the several wetland determination methods of federal agencies.  The impetus for the report was to resolve the differences between the 1987 and 1989 federal wetland delineation manuals.  The NRC report, Wetlands Characteristics and Boundaries, was issued in 1995.   It remains the best authority on wetlands.  In Chapter 4 the NRC reviewed the NRCS standards for classes of wetland stating that, “A farmed wetland that is a playa, pothole or pocosin must be inundated for at least 7 consecutive days or saturated for at least 14 consecutive days during the growing season. Farmed wetlands that are not potholes, playas or pocosins must have a 50% chance of being seasonally flooded or ponded for at least 15 consecutive days during the growing season or for 10% of the growing season whichever is less.  NFSAM specifically acknowledges that these especially restrictive guidelines are intended to protect the unique wetland functions of potholes, playas and pocosins.”  The NRC did not endorse either the 1987 United States Army Corps of Engineer’s wetland manual or the USDA’s methodology for determining wetlands and their boundaries.

At the conclusion of Chapter 5 of the NRC report, Wetlands Characteristics and Boundaries, the NRC made 35 recommendations regarding wetland identification.  The following are applicable to the discussion of the NRCS Final Rule:

  1. If direct hydrologic evaluation is needed, as in the case of altered sites or when evidence from substrate and biota is not conclusive, the evaluation should be based on water table data or on evidence of anoxia.
  1. Guidance should be developed for assessment of hydrologic alteration.
  1. If the hydrology of a site has been altered, evidence from soils or vegetation must be used only with support from hydrologic analysis, including the characteristic frequency, duration and depth of saturation.
  1. Federal agencies that regulate wetlands should hire regulatory staff that makes up a balanced mixture of expertise in plant ecology, hydrology, and soil science.

Recommendation No. 19 is of particular importance because it says, in essence, that for possible wetland sites with altered wetland hydrology the NRCS method should not be used.  Instead, the hydrology must be proven.  Hydrology can only be done using mathematical modeling or direct observation via monitoring.  Unfortunately, in the Final Rule the NRCS takes the position that this cannot be done properly and that NRCS will simply make an off-the-cuff determination that is binding on farmers.   At a minimum, for hydrologically altered prairie potholes, the hydrology should be required to be proven before any limitations on farming activities are applied.

In the Final Rule, the NRCS issues a challenge to all farmed wetland owners in the prairie pothole states by declaring, “The final rule change brings transparency and codifies the method by which these determinations have been made since the establishment of farmed wetland and farmed wetland pasture designations, by stating that areas manipulated prior to December 23, 1985 but which retain wetland hydrology, as determined through Step 1 of the wetland determination process in Rule Section 12.30( c)(7) and application of the procedures described in Rule Section 12.31( c), meet the required hydrology criteria for playa, pocosin, and pothole farmed wetlands and farmed wetland pasture.  Both inundation and saturation criteria for pothole farmed wetlands were established in the September 6, 1996 interim rule and USDA does not agree that there is a need to modify these criteria.”

This is simply incorrect.  If this NRCS position is allowed to stand there will be very few challenges.  Instead, there will be more wetland that is erroneously mapped, and more landowners that will get caught in administrative appeals and litigation and suffer the loss of property rights. 

The 2018 Farm Bill Section

Here, the NRCS states in response to the 2018 Farm Bill that, “The December 2018 interim rule established in the wetland determination process in § 12.30(c)(7) that step 2 includes the determination of whether any exemptions apply, and no further modification in this final rule is needed in support of section 2101.”  This statement is incorrect.  Clearly, the Congress intended that a minimal effect determination be made, and that the NRCS make the determination whether or not a landowner requests that such a determination be made.

Conclusion

The Final Rule is troubling for farmers in many respects.  Perhaps the biggest is the NRCS position concerning wetland hydrology indicators for hydrologically altered wetland.  Millions of acres of these types of wetland are present in the prairie pothole states.  Also, of primary concern is the NRCS intent to triple the tile set-back requirements from the edge of farmed wetlands if the adjoining soil has groundwater discharge potential.  It is difficult to believe that NRCS hydrologists, botanists and soil scientists were meaningfully involved in the writing of the Final Rule.

Farmers beware.

September 22, 2020 in Environmental Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 20, 2020

NRCS Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands Conservation Final Rule – Clearer Guidance for Farmers or Loss of Property Rights? – Part Two

Overview

In Part One earlier last week, I went through part of the preamble to the recently issued USDA/NRCS Final Rule involving highly erodible land and wetland.  The rule is found at 85 FR 53137 and became effective August 28, 2020.  In today’s article I continue to work through the nuances of the various sections of the preamble to the Final Rule.  Does the Final Rule bring clarity to the NRCS delineation process?  Will it help farmers in avoiding a violation of the rules?

Picking up where I left off last time in Part One, I continue the discussion of the preamble of the NRCS Final Rule concerning the conservation provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill – it’s Part Two of a (now) Three-Part Series and is the topic of today’s post.

Certification Status of Pre-1996 Wetland Determinations Section 

In this section, the NRCS quotes the Conference Committee Report for the 1990 Farm Bill.  In that Report, the “Managers agree that the certification process is to provide farmers with certainty as to which of their lands are to be considered wetlands for purposed of Swampbuster.”  If the NRCS statement that the Final Rule is designed to bring clarity to wetland delineation is to be believed, it means one of two things.  Either this Final Rule isn’t necessary because the certification process of 30 years ago “solved” the problem, or the Final Rule is an NRCS admission that it has failed to provide clarity for 30 years.     

Since 1990, many landowners have been told that their wetland determinations made before 1996 were invalid and they requested new ones.  The new determinations resulted in more acres being determined as wetland than were designated in the original determinations.  This resulted in the loss of land use rights and the payment of penalties.  In one instance, an Iowa farmer was forced through a myriad of appeals as a result of wetland conversions done by his drainage district in the 1990s.  Following administrative appeals and court challenges (see Gunn v. United States, 118 F.3d 1233 (8th Cir. 1997), cert. den., 522 U.S. 1111 (1998)),  and after the farmer and the drainage district were forced to mitigate, an old determination surfaced showing that there actually was no wetland on his farm.  The initial determination of no wetland should have been considered certified. Will compensation be paid for the farmer’s loss of property rights?  Hardly. 

Also in this section, the NRCS responded to a comment about changing determinations based on new technology by stating that the limited circumstances where certified wetland determinations are subject to revision are:  “if the land in question has been removed from agricultural use, upon request of the USDA program participant, or when a violation of the wetland conservation provisions has occurred.”  In actual practice, this statement is incorrect.  NRCS states in its policy manual, The Food Security Act Manual, 5th Edition, that it will not make a review upon request unless it determines that there was an error.  Will the policy manual be amended to account for this statement in the Final Rule? 

Offsite Analysis of Wetland Minimal Effect Section 

In this section the NRCS notes that a comment was received claiming that the 2018 interim rule did not address the 2017 Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Audit Report entitled, “USDA Wetland Conservation Provisions in the Prairie Pothole Region.”  In this section of the preamble, the NRCS notes its disagreement with the audit and seeks to justify its conduct in the four-state prairie pothole region concerning wetland determinations from 1990-1996.  However, the NRCS response is only part of the story.  What primarily is at issue involves the concept of “minimal effect determination.”  In 1993, the Clinton administration made a policy announcement specifying that the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) was to be designated as the lead agency for determining whether agricultural land is wetland for both CWA and Swampbuster program purposes. Procedures were to be developed jointly by the SCS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). In addition, SCS appeal procedures were to be utilized to contest wetland determinations, and the COE, in coordination with EPA, SCS and FWS was to develop a nationwide general permit for CWA purposes for discharges associated with “minimal effects” (see 7 C.F.R. §12.31(e)(1)) and “frequently cropped with mitigation” conversions determined by SCS and FWS to qualify agricultural wetlands for exemption from Swampbuster sanctions.  The landowner is responsible for requesting such a determination and bears the burden to prove eligibility for a “minimal effects” determination. See Clark v. United States Department of Agriculture, 537 F.3d 934 (8th Cir. 2008).

In this section, the NRCS also fails to disclose that it has lost numerous court cases involving minimal effect determinations.  Without an administrative change of position, NRCS will likely lose more.  Congressional intent expressed in Conference Committee Reports dating back nearly 30 years illustrates that the Congress intended “minimal effect” determinations to be simple and widely used.  However, that has not happened.  As noted above, NRCS makes a landowner request a minimal effect determination.  That was a regulatory position staked-out by the agency in a September 17, 1987 Final Rule associated with “farmed wetland.”  If a landowner doesn’t make a request, a minimal effect determination is not made.  But, this landowner burden is not required by statute.  While the position of the NRCS in the regulation has been upheld (see the Clark case cited above), both logic and Congressional intent would seem to indicate that the NRCS should, as a matter of routine, conduct a minimal effect determination for every request for review of hydrologic manipulations.  The consequences of a landowner not requesting a minimal effect determination can be harsh – the loss of past and future farm program benefits.

PC Any Land With Pre-1985 Drainage Section 

Here, the USDA/NRCS states that “farmed wetlands” have been subject to the wetland conservation provisions since 1987 and were formally defined in regulation in 1996.  The NRCS also asserts that the Congress has not altered NRCS administration of farmed wetlands since first described in regulation. However, the NRCS comment is misleading.  A bit of history is in order.

Under the March 1986 interim rules for the wetland conservation provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill, wetland was assumed to be truly wet ground that had never been farmed. In addition, “obligation of funds” such as assessments paid to drainage districts, qualified as commenced conversions, and the FWS had no involvement in Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (now Farm Service Agency (FSA)) or SCS decisions. In September of 1986, a proposal to exempt from Swampbuster all lands within drainage districts was approved by the chiefs of the ASCS, SCS, Farmers’ Home Administration, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and the Secretary of Agriculture. However, the USDA proposal failed in the face of strong opposition from the FWS and the EPA.

The final Swampbuster rules were issued in 1987 without being subjected to the notice and comment procedures of the APA and greatly differed from the interim rules. The final Swampbuster rules eliminated the right to claim prior investment as a commenced conversion. Added were farmed wetlands, abandoned cropland, active pursuit requirements, FWS concurrence, a complicated “commenced determination” application procedure, and special treatment for prairie potholes. Under the “commenced conversion” rules, an individual producer or a drainage district is exempt from Swampbuster restrictions if drainage work began before December 23, 1985 (the effective date of the 1985 Farm Bill). If the drainage work was not completed by December 23, 1985, a request could be made of the ASCS on or before September 19, 1988, to make a commencement determination. Drainage districts must satisfy several requirements under the “commenced conversion” rules. A project drainage plan setting forth planned drainage must be officially adopted. In addition, the district must have begun installation of drainage measures or legally committed substantial funds toward the conversion by contracting for installation or supplies.

The final rules defined “farmed wetlands” as playa, potholes, and other seasonally flooded wetlands that were manipulated before December 23, 1985, but still exhibited wetland characteristics. Drains affecting these areas can be maintained, but the scope and effect of the original drainage system cannot be exceeded.  7 C.F.R. § 12.2.  Prior converted wetlands can be farmed, but they revert to protected status once abandoned.  A prior converted wetland is a wetland that was totally drained before December 23, 1985. Under 16 U.S.C. §3801(a)(7), a “converted wetland” is defined as a wetland that is manipulated for the purpose or with the effect of making the production of an agricultural commodity possible if such production would not have been possible but for such action.  If a wetland was drained before December 23, 1985, but wetland characteristics remain, it is a “farmed wetland” and only the original drainage can be maintained.

The problem with the NRCS creation and definition of “farmed wetland” is that the law defines “converted wetland” as wetland that is dredged, drained or otherwise manipulated so as to make the production of an agricultural commodity possible where such production was not possible prior to the manipulation.  How then can farmed wetland be subject to conversion when it is, by definition, already converted?  In this section of the preamble, the NRCS claims that farmed wetland was formally defined in regulation in the September 1996 interim final rule.  However, in 1996, comments were filed with NRCS challenging the legality of subjecting farmed wetland to the wetland conservation provisions of the Farm Bill.  Under the APA the USDA was to timely respond to those comments and make appropriate revisions to the rule.  That never happened.  24 years later, the rule has not been finalized.  Now NRCS claims that the Congress has endorsed the concept.

Conclusion

What I thought would be a two-part series when I started out, will now turn into a three-part series.  In the next installment, I will continue the commentary on the preamble to the Final Rule. 

September 20, 2020 in Environmental Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2020

NRCS Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands Conservation Final Rule – Clearer Guidance for Farmers or Erosion of Property Rights? – Part One

Overview

The Congress, with passage of the 1985 Farm Bill, tied participation in federal farm programs to conservation requirements related to “highly erodible land” and “wetlands”  New concepts were introduced such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Sodbuster, Swampbuster, and abandoned cropland, just to name a few.  Of course, the “dirt is in the details” and that meant that terms needed to be defined so that a farmer could identify highly erodible land as well as wetland.  A farmer participating in federal farm programs must annually certify compliance with the conservation requirements, and production activities on areas that the government has identified as “protected” under the conservation rules can lead to ineligibility for farm program benefits.

The sub-agency within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for developing, administering and enforcing the rules for the various conservation programs is the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Late last month, the NRCS issued a Final Rule for both the highly erodible land and the conservation provisions of the 1985 farm bill.  85 Fed. Reg. 53137.  While the Final Rule is purportedly designed to bring clarity to the delineation process and aid farmers in avoiding farming activity that could result in farm program ineligibility, the Final rule does no such thing.  Instead, the Final rule expands the federal government’s regulatory power and diminishes landowner rights. 

The NRCS Final Rule on the conservation provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill – it’s Part One of a Two-Part Series and is the topic of today’s post.

The Basics – Delineation and Conversion 

The NRCS delineates (identifies) where highly erodible land and wetland is present so that a farmer can avoid farming activities in those areas.  As for wetland, the 1985 Farm Bill charged the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) with creating an official wetland inventory with a particular tract being classified as a wetland if it had (1) the presence of hydric soil; (2) wetland hydrology (soil inundation for at least seven days or saturated for at least 14 days during the growing season); and (3) the prevalence of hydrophytic plants under undisturbed conditions.  7 C.F.R. §12.30(c)(7).  In other words, to be a wetland, a tract must have hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation and wetland hydrology. The presence of hydrophytic vegetation, by itself, is insufficient to meet the wetland hydrology requirement and the statute clearly requires the presence of all three characteristics.  See B&D Land & Livestock Co. v. Schafer, 584 F. Supp. 2d 1182 (N.D. Iowa 2008). The determination of highly erodible land involves the use of an “erodibility index” for a soil based on factors such as annual rainfall, the degree to which the soil resists erosion, and the steepness of the area.  7 C.F.R. § 12.21 (a)(1)(i)-(iii).

In addition to delineating land that cannot be farmed without violating the conservation rules, the NRCS also must determine whether wetland or highly erodible land has been impermissibly “converted” from its protected status to being farmed.  But, in general, if the land at issue was converted to use in a farming operation before the 1985 Farm Bill conservation rules took effect, it will maintain its status as land that can be farmed without violating the conservation rules.  Indeed, the conference committee report a week before the 1985 Farm Bill was signed into law stated that wetland conversion was considered to be “commenced” when a person had obligated funds or begun actual modification of a wetland.

The conservation rules have been modified multiple times since their 1985 Farm Bill version.  Those modifications have largely dealt with the issues of conversion, “minimal effects,” and mitigation. 

New Rules

In late 2018, the USDA published a new interim rule concerning the conservation provisions that originated with the 1985 Farm Bill.  On August 28, 2020, those Final Rule was published.  The Final Rule adds definitions for “wetland hydrology,” “normal climatic conditions,” and “best drained condition.”  The Final Rule also modifies the manner in which the NRCS is to delineate the various types of wetland and states that wetland determinations made between 1990 and 1996 are to be “certified” such that USDA benefits will not be denied if a farmer conducts farming activities on land that is covered by such a certification.  7 C.F.R. §12.5(b)(6)(i).   

The Final Rule also says that USDA is to make a “reasonable effort” to include the “affected person” in an on-site investigation before determining that a wetland violation exists.  In addition, the Final Rule specifies that if a landowner disagrees with an “off-site” determination concerning a highly erodible soil determination, NRCS is to make a field visit (on-site) determination. 

Deeper Dive – Digging into the Final Rule

According to the NRCS the Final Rule does farmers a favor by providing clearer guidance on the determination of land subject to the conservation rules, the farming of which would disqualify the farmer from program benefits.  But, is that true?  A deeper analysis of the Final Rule portends the opposite. 

What follows is a section-by-section commentary on the Final Rule.

Summary section.  The NRCS claims that the Final Rule was prepared to clarify how the USDA delineates, determines and certifies wetlands located on subject land in a manner sufficient for making determinations of ineligibility for certain USDA program benefits.  That is a misrepresentation of the purpose of the Final Rule.  The Final Rule does not clarify as much as it alters how the NRCS makes these determinations so as to make the process more convenient for the NRCS, and making appeals from that convenient, simplified process more difficult.  The Final Rule also represents a step away from the possible (but often inconvenient) scientific determination of wetland hydrology in regularly cropped farmed wetland across the prairie pothole region (a significant portion of the northern Great Plains and north-central Iowa and south-western Minnesota).

Supplementary Information - Background section.  This section provides background information concerning highly erodible land and wetland and the charge to the USDA by the Congress as part of the 1985 Farm Bill.  The NRCS claimed in its late 2018 interim rule that its Final Rule would provide “transparency” to USDA program participants and stakeholders concerning how USDA delineates, determines, and certifies wetlands. It also claimed that it was providing information so that farmers could “better understand” actions that may result in ineligibility for USDA farm program benefits. 

However, the reality of the Final Rule is that such “transparency” and “understanding” is defined to mean that the NRCS will unilaterally decide that status of a tract based on its own determination by virtue of its best “guestimate.”  That is evidenced by the statement in this section that, as part of the wetland delineation process that a, “[w]etland hydrology determination will be made in accordance with the current Federal wetland delineation methodology in use by NRCS at the time of the determination.”  A landowner may appeal such a determination, but given the deference that courts give to administrative agencies concerning the interpretation of agency rules, succeeding in overturning such a determination will be difficult.  See Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997).

Summary of Public Comments section.  In this section, the NRCS points out that, “[o]nsite wetland determinations and aerial imagery do not constitute an unreasonable search or seizure.  Its rationale is that a wetland determination for purposes of determining eligibility in voluntary USDA programs is not part of a criminal law proceeding.

Abandonment of Farmed Wetland and Farmed Wetland Pasture section.  Here, the NRCS asserts that the Final Rule made no changes in the interim rule with respect to abandonment of farmed wetlands and farmed wetland pasture.   7 CFR §12.33(c). Abandonment applies to farmed wetland and farmed-wetland pasture when wetland conditions return after December 23, 1985, unless certain conditions are met. NRCS states that this is a part of “long-standing policy and regulation.”  Here, the NRCs stated that it was reaffirming that USDA program participants may continue to farm farmed wetlands and farmed wetland pasture under natural conditions without risk of losing their eligibility for USDA program benefits, as long as additional hydrological manipulations do not occur.

Administrative Procedure Act section.  In this section, the USDA claims that it is not required to promulgate the conservation rules contained in  7 C.F.R. part 12 pursuant to notice and comment rulemaking under the APA.   While it mentions that §1246 of the 1985 Farm Bill, as amended by the Agricultural Act of 2014, specified that the promulgation of regulations and administration of the conservation programs are to be subjected to public notice and comment, it claims that the APA requirements for notice and comment do not apply to a matter relating to public property, loans, grants, benefits, or contracts. 5 U.S.C. §553(a)(2).  Because the matters identified in the 2018 interim rule relate to USDA program grants and other benefits, the USDA claimed that notice and comment rulemaking are not required under the APA.

However, the NRCS does not explain why all the rules, practices and policies issued and implemented before 2014 were not subjected to the APA.  Similarly, the NRCS does not explain why the requirement of the 1996 Farm Bill that all changes in policies regarding highly erodible land and wetland conservation be adopted pursuant to the APA’s rulemaking and comment procedures.  Before the adoption of the Final Rule, the NRCS had acknowledged that the 1996 Farm Bill provision remains applicable by citing it in the June 2017 rulemaking for the promulgation of the State Off-Site Method (SOSM) for the prairie pothole states.  But, it should be noted, that the Iowa NRCS changed its SOSM in December of 2018 without following notice and comment procedures. 

Appeals section.  The NRCS claims in the Final Rule that it will use the delineation methodology in use at the time of a particular delineation.  But, will the states follow this approach?  For example, the Iowa NRCS has steadfastly refused to accept the application of the Soil, Plant, Atmosphere, Water (SPAW) software for wetland surface ponding hydrology even though it was and is a method accepted by the NRCS in its wetland hydrology tools.

Area of Request for Certified Wetland Determinations section.  Here, the NRCS notes that wetland determinations, delineations, and certifications may be done on a tract, field, or sub field basis.

Best Drained Condition section.  The NRCS claims that allowing the “best drained condition” of a tract is intended…” to provide clarity regarding a long-standing and practiced statutory concept that is fundamental to the identification of…” hydrologically altered farmed wetlands.  Calling this assertion a “stretch” is an understatement of substantial degree.  The phrase “best drained condition” is derived from Barthel v. United States Department of Agriculture, 181 F.3d 984 (8th Cir. 1999).   In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the plaintiff landowners were entitled to the historic “wetland and farming regime” of a 450-acre hay meadow irrespective of the degree of manipulation of a ditch drainage device . After more than 15 years and multiple contempt actions brought against the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the Barthel litigation, the NRCS finally recognized that the Barthel decision meant that it had to apply a historic drainage (i.e., “best drained condition”) test to wetland determinations, and that the focus of the analysis was not to be on the manipulation of the drainage device, but rather on the effect of the manipulation of the drainage device on the subject property.    

Under the Final Rule, the NRCS explains how “best drained condition” is to be identified.  The NRCS asserts that the decision is to be made based upon the best available evidence.  That could include remote resources such as historical aerial imagery or other historical evidence. Indeed,  this is what the NRCS does in practice.  NRCS personnel make a decide whether or not the drainage outlet (device) is in good condition by examining the available historic aerial photographs and identifying one as providing the best historic drainage.  If the existing drainage matches that historic drainage, then aerial imagery may be used.  That’s what constitutes “best available evidence.”  One of a handful of aerial photographs taken between 1935 and 1985 is picked as the best by the agency expert.  Then it is set aside never to be used again.  The agency expert then judges if the outlet is compromised. 

This is “clarity” and “transparency.”  The NRCS personnel make a judgment call about best historic drainage and the landowner must either accept or challenge it subject to a “substantial deference” standard.   This strategy allows the NRCS to playing the regulatory and judicial system to the government’s advantage rather than focusing on a serious attempt to make an accurate determination of what is the best historic drainage even though scientific methods exist to make that determination.

Conclusion

In Part Two, I will examine the remaining parts of the Final Rule and provide some concluding thoughts. 

September 14, 2020 in Environmental Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Conservation Easements – The Perpetuity Requirement and Extinguishment

Overview

A taxpayer that donates a “qualified real property interest” to a “qualified organization” can receive a charitable contribution deduction upon satisfying numerous technical requirements.  A primary requirement is that the easement donation be exclusively for conservation purposes.  That requirement, however, can only be satisfied if the conservation purposes are protected in perpetuity.  I.R.C. §§170(h)(2)(C); (h)(5)(A).  Essentially, that means that legally enforceable restrictions must be in place that will bar the use of the portion of the property that the taxpayer retains from being used in a manner that is inconsistent with the conservation purposes of the donated easement.

But, can anything here on earth really last forever?  What if the easement is extinguished by court action?  There’s a rule for that contingency and it requires careful drafting of the easement deed.  Numerous court opinions have dealt with the issue, including a couple in recent weeks.

Dealing with potential extinguishment of a perpetual conservation easement donation – it’s the topic of today’s post.

The Issue of Extinguishment – Treasury Regulation

While the law generally disfavors perpetual control of interests in land, for a taxpayer to claim a tax deduction for a donated conservation easement, the easement must be granted in perpetuity.  But if the conditions surrounding the property subject to a perpetual conservation easement make impossible or impractical the continued use of the property for conservation purposes, a Treasury Regulation details the requirements to be satisfied to protect the perpetual nature of the easement if a judicial proceeding extinguishes the easement restrictions.  Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6)(i)-(ii). 

The regulation requires that, at the time of the donation, the donor must agree that the donation gives rise to a property right that is immediately vested in the donee.  Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii).  The value of the gift must be the fair market value of the easement restriction that is at least equal to the proportionate value that the easement restriction, at the time of the donation, bears to the entire property value at that time. See Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(h)(3)(iii) relating to the allocation of basis.  The proportionate value of the donee’s property rights must remain constant such that if the conservation restriction is extinguished and the property is sold, exchanged or involuntarily converted, the done is entitled to a portion of the proceeds that is at least equal to that proportionate value of the restriction.  The only exception is if state law overrides the terms of the conservation restriction and specifies that the donor is entitled to the full proceeds from the conversion restriction.  Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii). 

Extinguishment – Cases

The formula language necessary to comply with the regulation must be precisely drafted.  The IRS has aggressively audited perpetual easement restrictive agreements for compliance.  Consider the following:

  • In Carroll, et al. v. Comr., 146 T.C. 196 (2016), the petitioner contributed a conservation easement on a tract of land to two qualified organizations. The easement provided that if the conservation purpose was extinguished because of changed circumstances surrounding the donated property, the donees were entitled to a proportionate share of extinguishment proceeds not to be less than the amount allowed as a deduction to the donor for federal income tax purposes over the fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution. The plaintiff claimed a charitable contribution for the year of the contribution and carried forward the remaining balance to tax years 2006-2008.

Because the easement at issue provided that the value of the contribution for purposes of the donees’ right to extinguishment proceeds was tied to the amount of the petitioner’s allowable deductions rather than the fair market value of the easement, the court determined that the easement violated the Regulation and was not protected in perpetuity under I.R.C. §170(h)(5)(A). The court also imposed an accuracy-related penalty. 

  • In Palmolive Building Investors, LLC v. Comr., 149 T.C. No. 18 (2017), the petitioner acquired a building in 2001 for $58.5 million. In 2004, the petitioner transferred a façade easement on the building via deed to a qualified charity (a preservation council) to preserve the exterior building perimeter. The easement deed placed restrictions on the petitioner and its successors with respect to the façade easement and the building – the petitioner and any subsequent owner couldn’t demolish or alter the protected elements without the charity’s permission. The building was subject to two mortgages, but before executing the easement deed, the petitioner obtained mortgage subordination agreements from its mortgagee banks. However, the easement deed provided that in the event the façade easement was extinguished through a judicial proceeding, the mortgagee banks will have claims before that of the donee charity to any proceeds received from the condemnation proceedings until the mortgage is satisfied.

By the time of the easement donation, the value of the building had increased to $257 million, of which $33.4 million was attributable to the easement. The petitioner claimed a $33.4 million charitable contribution deduction for the tax year of the easement contribution. The IRS disallowed the deduction, claiming that the easement deed failed to satisfy the perpetuity requirements of I.R.C. §170 and Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii) because it provided the mortgagees with prior claims to the extinguishment proceeds in preference to the donee. Specifically, the lender had agreed to subordinate the debt to the charity's claims, but the easement deed said that the lender would have priority access to any insurance proceeds on the property if the donor had insurance on the property. The easement deed also said that the lender would have priority to any condemnation proceeds.

The petitioner claimed that the First Circuit's decision in Kaufman v. Comr., 687 F.3d 21 (1st Cir. 2012) applied. In that case, the First Circuit rejected the view that a subordination must remove any preferential treatment of the lender in all situations, creating an exception for unusual situations that could possibly occur at some point in the future. The First Circuit determined that the Tax Court's reading of what is necessary to grant a perpetual easement would eliminate easement donations because an easement represented only a partial interest in property. In addition, the First Circuit reasoned that a broad reading was improper because, for example, a tax lien could arise if the donor failed to pay property tax when they became due which could result in the loss of the property without the charity receiving a pro rata portion of the property value.

In the present case, the Tax Court rejected the view of the First Circuit, noting that its decision would be appealable to the Seventh Circuit and, thus, the Tax Court was not bound by the First Circuit's decision. The Tax Court reasoned that because the lender had superior rights in certain situations, the mortgages did not meet the subordination requirement of Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g). Thus, the donated easement did not meet the perpetuity requirement of I.R.C. §170(h)(5). The Tax court also pointed out that other Circuits had agreed with the Tax Court's interpretation of the subordination rule since Kaufman was decided. The Tax Court also noted a difference concerning what must be done to subordinate an existing liability at the time of the donation (such as a mortgage) as opposed to a possible future liability that was not yet in existence. The Tax Court also noted that the Treasury Regulations specifically mentioned mortgages in the list of requirements necessary to satisfy the perpetuity requirement, but made no mention of a need to have taxing agencies to agree to give up rights to a priority interest that might arise in the future for delinquent taxes when the taxes were not delinquent.

The IRS assessed a gross valuation misstatement penalty in 2008 and additional accuracy-related and negligence penalties in 2014. The petitioner contested the penalties, but the Tax Court, in a later proceeding, determined that there is no requirement that IRS determine the penalties at the same time or by the same IRS agent. The only requirement, the Tax Court held, was that each penalty, at the time of initial determination, was approved in writing by a supervisor before being communicated to the petitioner. That requirement was satisfied. That later proceeding on the penalty issue is at 152 T.C. No. 4 (2019).

  • In Salt Point Timber, LLC, et al. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2017-245, the petitioner was a timber company that granted a perpetual conservation easement on a 1,032-acre property for which the petitioner claimed a $2.13 million deduction on its 2009 return. The easement preserved the view of natural, environmentally significant habitat on the Cooper River by barring development. The petitioner received $400,000 for the donated easement, and the done satisfied the definition of a “qualified organization” under I.R.C. §170(h)(1)(B). The appraised value of the easement was $2,530,000. The IRS disallowed the deduction on the basis that the easement grant allowed the original easement to be replaced by an easement held by a disqualified entity. In addition, the IRS claimed that the grant allowed the property to be released from the original easement without the extinguishment regulation being satisfied. The petitioner claimed that there was a negligible possibility that the easement could be held by a non-qualified party. The court agreed with the IRS, noting that the grant did not define the term “comparable conservation easement” or what type of organization could hold it, just that an “eligible donee” could hold it. The court noted that an assignment of the easement is different from a replacement of the easement. As such, the grant did not restrict that the holder of the easement had to be a “qualified organization.” The court also determined that the chance that the easement could be replaced was other than negligible as Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(3) required. 
  • In PBBM-Rose Hill, Ltd., v. Comr., 900 F.3d 193 (5th Cir. 2018), the petitioner owned a tract of land subject to a use restriction requiring it to only be used for recreational facilities open space for 30 years. At the time of the petitioner’s ownership, the property was a golf course with a clubhouse. The petitioner wanted to sell the property, but before doing so wanted to remove the use restriction. A local buyer expressed interest, but also wanted to block any removal of the use restriction. The sale went through after the buyer agree to allow the removal of the use restriction. However, before the sale closed, the petitioner conveyed a conservation easement of the property to a land trust. The terms of the easement stated that the property was to remain open for public use for outdoor recreation and that fees for such use could be charged. Upon extinguishment of the easement, the land trust would be entitled to a portion of the sale proceeds equal to the greater of the fair market value of the easement at the time of the donation or a share of the proceeds after expenses of sale and an amount attributable to improvements constructed on the property. The IRS denied the charitable deduction.

The Tax Court agreed with the IRS position based on its findings that the easement did not protect the conservation purpose under I.R.C. §170(h)(4)(A) and didn’t satisfy the perpetuity requirement of I.R.C. §170(h)(5)(A) because the easement deed’s extinguishment provision did not comply with Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6). As such, the easement donation was not “exclusively for conservation purposes as required by I.R.C. §170(h)(1)(C). The Tax Court held that the easement value was $100,000 rather than the $15.2 million that the petitioner claimed. The Tax Court also upheld the gross valuation misstatement penalty that the IRS had imposed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed that the petitioner was not entitled to any charitable deduction and upheld the penalty. The appellate court held that when determining whether the public access requirement for a recreation easement is fulfilled, the focus is to be on the terms of the deed and not the actual use of the land post-donation. The appellate court determined that the terms of the easement satisfied the public-access requirement of Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(d)(5)(iv)(C). However, the appellate court concluded that the contribution was not exclusively for conservation purposes because the requirements of Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii) were not satisfied.  The deed, the appellate court noted, allowed the value of improvements to be subtracted from the proceeds before the donee took its share, and that Priv. Ltr. Rul. 200836014 no longer represented the current position of the IRS and could not be used to alter the plain meaning of the regulation which mandates that the donee receive at least the proportionate value of the “proceeds.” The appellate court also agreed with the Tax Court that the gross valuation misstatement penalty applied to the difference between the amount the petitioner deducted on its return ($15 million) and the $100,000 deduction allowed by the Tax Court. 

  • In Coal Property Holdings, LLC v. Comr., 153 T.C. No. 7 (2019), the petitioner donated to a qualified charity an open space conservation easement over property which was previously subjected to surface coal mining and which was also subject to oil and gas leases and certain improvements. The IRS denied a charitable deduction because the easement wasn’t protected in perpetuity, and the Tax Court agreed. The conservation purpose of allowing the land subject to the easement to continue to recover from and provide scientific insight into the long-term effects of mining didn’t entitle the charity to a proportionate part of the proceeds if the subject property were sold upon a judicial extinguishment of the easement. As such, the easement wasn’t perpetual in nature as required by I.R.C. §170(h)(5)(A) and I.R.C. §1.170A-14(g)(6). While the petitioner claimed that the deed language contained a “regulation override” mandating that the deed be interpreted to satisfy the perpetuity requirements of the Code and Regulations, the Tax Court rejected that argument because it was a condition subsequent constituting a savings clause that the court would not enforce. 

On this issue, the IRS also argues that when an easement deed’s proceeds allocation formula deducts (from the proceeds allocable to the done) an amount attributable to “improvements” made by the owner after the donation, no charitable deduction is allowed.  The IRS position is that the deduction violates the extinguishment regulation (Treas. Reg. 1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii)), making the charitable deduction unavailable.  See, e.g., Priv. Ltr. Rul. 200836014 (Sept. 5, 2008).

  • In Railroad Holdings, LLC, et al. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2020-22, the petitioner donated a permanent conservation easement to a qualified entity and claimed a $16 million charitable deduction. The deed granting the easement contained a clause specifying the result if the easement were extinguished as the result of a court order. The IRS pointed out that in the event of a forced judicial sale, Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii) requires the charity to receive an equal proportionate value of the sale proceeds that extinguishes the interest to the value of the easement as compared to the value of the property at the date of the donation. The language of the deed at issue held the charity’s payment constant, equal to the value as of the date of the contribution. It did not tie the charity’s payment to a percentage of the value of the property at the time of the forced sale equal to the percentage of value the easement was to the property at the time of the donation. The IRS denied the entire $16 million donation and the Tax Court agreed.

The Tax Court noted that the deed language did not create a proportion or fraction representing the donee’s share of the property right and a corresponding fraction of the proceeds to which the donee was entitled in perpetuity. Rather, the Tax Court noted, the language gave the charity a “proportionate value…at the time of the gift” which guaranteed only that a fixed dollar amount would go to the charity. The Tax Court also held as irrelevant a declaration of intent executed by an officer of the charity that the deed language reflected the charity’s intent to be in full compliance with the Code. What mattered was the donor’s intent, not the charity’s intent. Even so, the deed language failed to conform to the Code. The Tax Court also determined that the deed language was not ambiguous. Thus, the easement was not protected in perpetuity and the full deduction was disallowed. 

Challenge to the Validity of the Regulation

In Oakbrook Land Holdings, LLC v. Comr., 154 T.C. No. 10 (2020), the petitioner challenged the validity of the extinguishment regulation.  In 2008, the petitioner donated a permanent conservation easement to a qualified organization and claimed a charitable deduction.  The easement deed specified that upon extinguishment of the conservation restriction the donee would receive a share of the proceeds equal to the fair market value of the easement as of the date of the contribution.  That value, the deed specified, was to be reduced by the value of any improvements that the donor made after granting the easement.  The IRS denied the charitable deduction because (inter alia) violated the extinguishment regulation of Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6). 

The Tax Court, agreeing with the IRS, upheld the validity of the regulation.  The full Tax Court   held that the extinguishment regulation (Treas. Reg. §1.170A-14(g)(6)) had been properly promulgated and did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act.  The full Tax Court also determined that the construction of I.R.C.§170(h)(5), as set forth in the extinguishment regulation, was valid under the agency deference standard set forth in Chevron, U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). 

In a related memorandum opinion, the Tax Court held that the easement deed did not create a perpetual easement because the donee’s share of the extinguishment proceeds was based on fixed historical value, reduced by the value of improvements that the donor made.  Oakbrook Land Holdings, LLC v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2020-54.  It was not, as it should have been, based on a proportionate share of extinguishment proceeds that are at least equal to the total proceeds (unadjusted by the value of the petitioner’s improvements), multiplied by a fraction defined by the ratio of the fair market value of the easement to the fair market value of the unencumbered property determined as of the date of the execution of the deed.  However, the Tax Court did not uphold penalties that the IRS imposed, finding that the petitioner’s position was reasonable.

Conclusion

The extinguishment regulation is, perhaps, the most common audit issue for IRS when examining permanent conservation easement donations.  The clause specifying how proceeds are to be split when a donated conservation easement is extinguished is routinely included in easement deeds.  The cases point out that the clause must be drafted precisely to fit the confines of the regulation.  A regulation that now has survived an attack on its validity.  Many perpetual easement donations will potentially be affected. 

May 25, 2020 in Environmental Law, Income Tax, Real Property | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Groundwater Discharges of “Pollutants” and “Functional Equivalency”

Overview

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.  Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue.

The U.S. Supreme Court, groundwater discharges and the CWA – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Court Developments in 2018

In 2018, three different U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal decided cases on the discharge from groundwater issue. 

  • 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.”
  • In Upstate Forever, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, LP, et al., 887 F.3d 637 (4th Cir. 2018), the plaintiffs claimed that the defendant violated the CWA by discharging “pollutants” into the navigable waters of the United States without a required discharge permit via an underground ruptured gasoline pipeline owned by the defendant’s subsidiary. The plaintiff claimed that a discharge permit was needed because the CWA defines “point source pollutant” (which requires a discharge permit) as “any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, included but not limited to any…well…from which pollutants are or may be discharged.”  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit determined that a pollutant can first move through groundwater before reaching navigable waters and still constitute a “discharge of a pollutant” under the CWA that requires a federal discharge permit. The discharge, the court concluded, need not be channeled by a point source until reaching navigable waters that are subject to the CWA.  It is sufficient, the appellate court reasoned, that the discharge of pollutants from a point source through groundwater have a direct hydrological connection to navigable waters of the United States. 
  • In Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 905 F.3d 436 (6th Cir. 2018), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the CWA does not apply to point source pollution that reaches surface water by means of groundwater movement. The appellate court noted that, to constitute a “conveyance” of groundwater governed by the CWA, the conveyance must be discernible, confined and discrete. While groundwater may constitute a conveyance, the appellate court reasoned that it is neither discernible, confined nor discrete. Rather, the court noted that groundwater is a “diffuse medium” that “seeps in all directions, guided only by the general pull of gravity. Thus, it [groundwater] is neither confined nor discrete.” In addition, the appellate court noted that the CWA only regulates pollutants “…that are added to navigable waters from any point source.” In so holding, the court rejected the holdings of the Ninth and Fourth Circuits from earlier in 2018.

The EPA Reacts

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, the Court 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 watercourse which, in some instances, might be 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

The Court’s opinion provides no material guidance to determine the need for a federal permit when a discharge into a WOTUS is other than direct.  More litigation can be anticipated as well as conflicting opinions by the lower courts as they struggle to apply the amorphous “functional equivalency” standard.  Likewise, regulatory bodies will have nearly free reign to inflict harm on agricultural operations and tie them up in time-consuming and costly administrative procedures. 

April 30, 2020 in Environmental Law | Permalink | Comments (0)