Court Adjudicates Farm Waste Case
On October 18, 2018, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling concerning a family dispute over farmland.
A farmer entered into a 20-year farm lease with his parents. After the farmer’s brother exercised the right to buy the land, the brother claimed the farm lease was invalid and attempted to terminate the lease. The brother also claimed the farmer was committing waste with respect to the farmland. Specifically, the brother claimed the farmer removed terraces, did not clear downed trees, removed a building wither permission, and threated to apply chemicals to the land that would prevent vegetation from growing on the farmland for many years.
The brother sought permanent injunctive relief which the trial court granted without making any findings. The farmer appealed.
Permanent Injunctive Relief
Permanent injunctive relief should only be granted when clearly required. The court must also consider the burden the injunction would place on the opposing party. Here, there was insufficient evidence to show the brother would suffer substantial injury or damages without an injunction.
The court found the brother’s testimony not credible concerning the claims of waste. The farmer denied most of the claims brought against him. For the claims he admitted to, he stated that he acted at the direction of his father in order to improve the productivity of the land. The farmer was experienced and had a history of good husbandry practices. Because his lease obligates him to rent the land until 2035, he would have no economic reason to harm it. Additionally, the brother had multiple legal remedies—such as seeking legal damages—if the farmer violated the lease. Therefore, the permanent injunction was improper.
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