In 2019, we
continue to see decisions involving the application of the right-to-farm law
(RTF) defense in a few states. Recently,
the Court of Appeals of Indiana upheld a trial court’s decision applying the
state’s RTF law. In this case, the RTF
law applied to claims that a neighboring hog farm was creating a nuisance. Although over the past 18 months, we have
seen decisions involving RTF laws not applying to agricultural companies being
hit with large damage verdicts, it is crucial to remember that in many cases,
the RTF defense continues to apply and prevent large verdicts.
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.
I recently contributed an article to MarylandBar 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 →
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 →
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 →