Recent MSBA Bar Journal Article – Current Legal Views Will Limit Many Claims for Damages in a Pesticide Drift Case

 

 

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Sprayer in a field.  Image by United Soybean Board.

I recently wrote an article for the Maryland Bar Journal focused on pesticide drift liability.  The article is focused on the issues that have existed in previous court decisions involving drift liability.  This issue continues to grow in importance for producers.

 

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Challenge Brought Against Decision to Approve Loan Guarantee for Maryland Poultry Farm

 

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Image of poultry farm by Livestock & Poultry Environmental Learning Center

 

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

Many of you may have seen the news that Food and Water Watch (FWW) was challenging the decision of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in approving an application for a loan guarantee for a poultry operation on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. FWW is challenging the FSA’s Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) as apart of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). FWW is looking to have the decision set aside the decision to grant the loan guarantee causing FSA to start the environmental review again. At this point, the case is just the initial stages with just the complaint file by FWW. This case will be playing out over the next few months. Continue reading

Wyoming’s Data Collection Trespass Statute Violates the First Amendment of the Constitution

 

Oxbow Bend Sunrise (Grand Teton National Park)

Image by Ken Lane and shows Oxbow Bend Sunrise in the Grand Teton National Park

 

This post is not legal advice.

Recently, a federal court of appeals reversed a lower court decision involving a data trespass law passed by Wyoming in 2015. This new trespass law created criminal and civil penalties when a person trespassed to collect resource data on private property. The court of appeals concluded that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protected the collection of data and the new trespass law was unconstitutional. Wyoming’s new trespass law did not directly speak to protecting agricultural operations; many have viewed this law as a form of an ag-gag law. As we have discussed before, although it is unconstitutional for states to adopt these laws, producers still have options to protect their operations. Continue reading

When is a Farmer Not a Farmer? Tax Court Case Highlights Complexity in Federal Tax Law

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Maryland farmland in Talbot County image by Chesapeake Bay Program via Flickr.com

This post is not legal advice

A group of Maryland farmers recently learned an important lesson, sometimes how a federal tax law defines a “farmer” can have large impacts. Brothers donated a conservation easement on a farm, then sold the property. The brothers then claimed the donation on their taxes. The tax court ruled that the brothers did not qualify as “qualified farmers” who could deduct 100 percent of the contribution because their gross incomes from the farm were less than 50 percent of their total gross incomes. The sale of farmland and the sale of the conservation easement did not count as an activity included in the business of farming. The brothers were limited to a 50 percent of the charitable contribution for the conservation easement. Continue reading