Court of Appeals Agrees USDA Did Not Have the Discretion to Implement New Program Benefiting Farmers

Combine dumping wheat into grain cart pulled by tractor in wheat field in Colorado. Image by Shannon Dizmang.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

            Many are paying attention to the implementation of the new Farm Bill, looking at how changes to existing and new programs will operate.  One issue that may come up after passing the 2018 Farm Bill is how quickly USDA must implement program changes or new programs.  In Ausmus v. Perdue, a group of Colorado wheat farmers recently had a lower court decision upheld.  The farmers had requested a new crop insurance product authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill before USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) implemented a product for wheat.  The lower court ruled and the court of appeals agreed that although it might conflict with the agency’s other duties under federal law, RMA had to allow producers to use the program after the effective date of the 2014 Farm Bill and not when RMA implemented the regulations. 

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2018 Farm Bill Makes Hemp Production Legal; But State Still Needs to Act to Take Advantage of Change

Close-ups of the industrial hemp research plots at the Spindletop research farm. Image by University of Kentucky

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

I recently contributed an article to Maryland Bar Bulletin on changes to hemp restrictions in the 2018 Farm Bill and what needs to happen before farmers can grow the crop legally. The Maryland Bar Bulletin recently published the article online.

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Wait for hemp production plans before you begin planting

The hemp research plot at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment Spindletop Research Farm was harvested Tuesday monring in Lexington, Ky.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

I recently contributed an article to American Agriculturalist magazine on changes to hemp restrictions in the 2018 Farm Bill and what needs to happen before farmers can grow the crop legally. American Agriculturalist recently published the article online.

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Pilot Industrial Hemp Program Now Final and Allows For Research Growing of Hemp in Maryland

Image of first UK Industrial Hemp Field Day at Spindletop Research Farm. Image by University of Kentucky.

This post is not legal advice.

In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly first passed legislation allowing for the development of an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in the state.  That program was recently updated in 2018 by House Bill (HB) 698 to allow farmers contracting with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) or Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) in Maryland to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. Production of hemp under the program must further either agricultural or academic research. HB 698 became effective on July 1, 2018, MDA has recently issued final regulations to implement this pilot program effective on January 28, 2019, and can be found here

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Federal Estate Tax and Gift Tax Limits Announced For 2019

Image by Sridhar Sara. Image of barns and farm from road in Maryland

This is not a substitute for legal advice. 

            In November, the IRS announced the revised federal estate tax and gift tax limits for 2019.  The 2019 federal estate tax limit will increase from $11.18 million to $11.4 million.  The federal gift tax limit will remain at $15,000.  In Maryland, state estate tax limits will increase to $5 million, up from $4 million in 2018.

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2018 Farm Bill Makes Hemp Production Legal Only In Certain Situations

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

Image of hemp research plots with University of Kentucky. Image by University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

            Farmers across the country are looking to begin producing hemp.  The 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to develop hemp research programs, but the 2018 Farm Bill significantly changes the classification of hemp and allows states to begin developing regulations for legal hemp production.  The 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and allows states and tribal governments to begin developing hemp production plans.  Hemp produced under these plans will potentially be eligible for federal crop insurance.  Although the 2018 Farm Bill has made changes to hemp, it is still currently not legal to grow hemp in Maryland until the state develops and has an approved hemp production plan in place.

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Year in Review: 2018 Ag Law Developments

Image of White Fence by Zach Stern via flickr.com

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

With 2018 over and 2019 underway, I want to take a minute to look back at many of the top legal developments impacting agriculture in 2018. Many of these legal developments may seem like repeats from my 2017 update; click here. For those interested embedded above is a join podcast episode I did with Tiffany Lashmet covering the top ag law developments. With those repeated issues, in many cases, we have seen resolutions, and we will probably continue to see litigation further develop with a few problems in 2019. Moving into 2019, we will likely see new issues emerge as a new Farm Bill is implemented and further developments in the international trade area. If you have not already signed up for updates, see the bottom of this post or any post on this site to get email updates sent to you as new content is available. Continue reading

A Word of Warning on Saved Seeds

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Tractor with square baler baying wheat straw.  Image is by Dennis Pennington, Bioenergy Educator, Michigan State University Extension from flickr.com

I recently wrote a column for Progressive Forage discussing saved seed laws and how these laws can impact seed selection in forage operations.  The column highlights patent law and the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) and the penalties associated with each law. Continue reading

Long Term Leases Provide a Valuable Tool In Farm Succession Planning as Recent Court Case Highlights

Wind.      Farm.

Wind turbines on farmland in Iowa.  Image by Mark Hesseltine from flickr.com.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

Developing a farm succession plan that allows the next generation to take over the farm and provides for non-farm heirs is not an easy task. Often you will want to treat your children equally but keeping the farm viable for the next generation may not allow for equal treatment. Dividing the farmland equally may result in one heir getting fewer acres needed to support a family. Your heirs are human and will potentially carry grudges against a sibling. A recent decision out of Iowa highlights what can happen when a farm succession plan fails. In Gent v. Gent, Thomas sought an injunction from the Iowa courts to limit how his brother, John, could utilize family farmland John had leased. John had initially leased the farmland from their parents for twenty-five years. This court decision highlights why families should work to develop plans that work towards their goals. There is no one size fits all approach in this process and families will have to understand that communicating, goal setting, and adopting can be important in this process. Continue reading

Recent Nuisance Suits Involving Farms Highlight Why Farms Should Understand How a Right-to-Farm Defense Operates

Cover Crop Agriculture in Frederick County, Md.

Liquid manure being applied by a tractor a field in Maryland.  Photo by Matt Rath/Chesapeake Bay Program

This article should not be considered legal advice.

Over the course of 2018, you have probably seen the stories involving nuisance suits brought by neighboring landowners against hog farms in North Carolina, leading to large verdicts against Smithfield Foods. Similar lawsuits are going on around the country involving neighbors claiming nearby hog farms are nuisances. In many cases, the state’s right-to-farm law should provide a possible defense to the farm, but the farm needs to meet all the requirements in the right-to-farm law to use the defense. Understanding the requirements can assist in maintaining the right-to-farm defense. Continue reading