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On August 3, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals settled a boundary dispute between two neighboring family members. Because neither party established their allegations of boundary by acquiescence or easement by prescription, the court affirmed the denial of their claims.

August 14, 2022 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: President Biden signed this bill into law on August 16, 2022.

On June 29, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a negligence lawsuit against a title company. The title company prepared an abstract for a sale of land, but failed to identify a sewer easement. Although the title company made an error, the Court of Appeals held that this mistake was not the proximate cause of the buyer’s alleged injury.

On June 29, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion involving a partition action and the subsequent assessment of attorney fees and costs. After three siblings filed a petition seeking a partition in kind against their other two siblings, the five siblings agreed to a partition in kind for the “heirs property” they owned as tenants in common. See Iowa Code § 651.1(5). Because the division was equitable and practicable, the Court of Appeals affirmed the referee’s recommendation. However, the court held that the district court erred in taxing all costs against the defendants.

July 10, 2022 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On June 30, 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, overruled 18-year-old precedent to find that Iowa’s right to farm statute, Iowa Code § 657.11, does not violate the inalienable rights clause of the Iowa Constitution. This decision generally restores statutory immunity from nuisance lawsuits seeking special damages for many animal feeding operations.

On June 24, 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed that allowing the public to use an easement does not establish a public dedication. A landowner granted a written access easement to his family members and invitees. Because there was clear evidence the landowner did not intend to dedicate the easement, the Court affirmed that the driveway was not for public use.

On June 15, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed a grant of summary judgment in a drainage dispute in favor of the City of Council Bluffs, the owner of the dominant estate. A couple alleged that improvements on the city property caused erosion and flood damage to the couple’s two servient properties. The court held that the express drainage easement only governed one property. Additionally, the statute of limitations did not bar the plaintiffs’ nuisance claim because the alleged offense was continuous rather permanent. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the city and remanded the action for further proceedings.

President Biden signed the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 117-43) into law on September 30, 2021. It authorized $10 billion to assist agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021. The USDA has determined that the money will be funding two new programs, the Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP) and the Emergency Relief Program (ERP).

On January 27, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a jury award in an eminent domain proceeding. In 2019, the Iowa Supreme Court held that the condemnation of farmland for the Dakota Access pipeline was constitutional. Because the landowner did not show that the district court abused its discretion when it excluded certain evidence allegedly impacting the value of the property after the taking, the court affirmed there were no grounds for a new trial.

 

December 3, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Rural landowners are sometimes asked to enter into an agreement to allow a developer to run a pipeline or power lines across their property. These are important decisions with permanent consequences. Landowners considering entering into such a contract should seek legal counsel to carefully review and negotiate the terms.

On August 4, 2021, Summit Carbon Solutions, LLC, initiated the legal process to build a proposed 710-mile carbon sequestration pipeline through 30 Iowa counties by filing a request for public informational meetings with the Iowa Utilities Board.

On July 21, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals determined that a Township had acquired ownership of a cemetery, as well as an access easement, through adverse possession.

On June 23, 2021, the United States Supreme Court held that a 46-year-old California regulation allowing union organizers to access agricultural employers’ property to solicit support for unionization was an uncompensated per se physical taking in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The 6-3 ruling reversed a Ninth Circuit decision finding that the regulation did not constitute a permanent physical taking.

June 16, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

On June 16, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals released an opinion regarding rights to use a driveway easement. The court clarified that without evidence of intent, there can be no public dedication. While the landowner in this case did allow some public use of an easement, this was insufficient to show that he intended to publicly dedicate it.

On April 14, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling regarding an interference with an easement. The plaintiff had a written easement over the neighboring property to access 40 acres of farmland. Because the defendant substantially interfered with the plaintiff’s easement rights, the court affirmed a permanent injunction entered by the lower court.

On November 4, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a district court order granting a permanent injunction preventing the defendant from interfering with the plaintiffs' use of an easement and private roadway. The court found that the defendant had improperly obstructed the easement with gates, fencing, and speed bumps, and that Iowa's partition fence law was inapplicable to the case.

On November 4, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s judgment in a property dispute between a dairy farmer and his new neighbors. The court ruled that the dairy farmer failed to show that both landowners accepted a fence as the boundary line. The court also affirmed that a 1955 easement did not grant the neighbors the right to cross the dairy farmer’s land.

October 15, 2020 | Kitt Tovar

On October 7, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion concerning a city’s intent to develop land for a park and new high school. A landowner claimed the city committed an unconstitutional taking when it “earmarked” approximately nine acres of land for a potential right-of-way. Because the plans to acquire the land were theoretical, the court affirmed that the city did not create a servitude or uneconomical remnant.

August 31, 2020 | Kitt Tovar

Iowa land is is some of the most productive in the world. As settlers began arriving to the area, they encountered many swamps and sloughs making agriculture production difficult. To address the excess water, individual property owners drained their land using underground pipes, pumps, and open ditches to move excess surface water away from cropland.

On July 24, 2019, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling concerning damage done to drainage tile in Webster County. The court found the neighbor’s trees damaged a farmland’s drainage tile causing water to pool and damage the crops in the field. Therefore, the court found the neighbor liable for the damage and responsible for replacing the damaged tile.

On July 3, 2019, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling regarding the creation of an easement over the boundary of a gravel road. The court found that because the owner of the property did not have notice of an easement claim, no easement was created.

In this podcast, Kitt talks about two recent Iowa Court of Appeals Cases and interviews Farm Management Specialist, Ryan Drollette regarding prevented planting.

 Franklin v. Johnston, No. 18-0613 (Iowa Ct. App. June 5, 2019).

Felt v. Felt Farms, LLC, No. 18-0710 (Iowa Ct. App. June 5, 2019)

On June 5, 2019, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling concerning a disagreement over property rights between two neighboring landowners. The court found little evidence to support a finding to grant the land in question in fee simple ownership to the defendants, but affirmed the lower court’s grant of a prescriptive easement to them.

In a case of significant import to Iowa property owners, the Iowa Supreme Court today ruled that the use of eminent domain for the Dakota Access pipeline was not an unconstitutional taking under either the Iowa or U.S. Constitutions.  In Puntenney v. Iowa Utilities Board, No.

UPDATE: As of July 1, 2021, Florida has a new Right to Farm Act (RTFA). On April 30, 2021, Governor DeSantis of Florida signed SB 88 into law, amending Florida’s RTFA in several ways. 

December 15, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law on December 20, 2018.

On November 21, 2018, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling regarding the county’s duty to properly maintain a soil and water conservation structure. The court found that the defendants had no statutory, contractual, or common law duty to maintain the structure.

July 10, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Senate and the House have passed their respective versions of the 2018 farm bill. The Senate passed its bill by a vote of 86-11 on June 28, 2018, and the House passed its more partisan bill by a vote of 213 – 211 on June 21.

July 6, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Many laws passed during the 2018 Iowa Legislative Session impact agricultural producers and landowners. A number of these laws went into effect July 1, 2018. Following is a summary of the highlights.

June 23, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Iowa’s agricultural nuisance law has perhaps become a little clearer, albeit no simpler to apply. On Friday, June 22, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a key ruling analyzing the constitutionality of Iowa’s embattled right-to-farm statute, Iowa Code § 657.11(2). Honomichl v.

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently found that Fayette County improperly granted permits to a wind energy group to build three wind turbines on agricultural land. This opinion leaves in effect a district court order that directed the group to remove the turbines.

On February 12, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will shape Iowa nuisance law, as it applies to animal feeding operations.

December 29, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

As the year concludes, we’re taking some time to review the most significant happenings in agricultural law and taxation in 2017. Some closed chapters on drawn-out litigation or administrative action. Others signal the beginning of much more activity to come. In any event, 2017 did not disappoint in terms of lots to discuss. We review these highlights below, in no particular order.

December 2, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: The conference committee released its report on December 15, 2017. Congress will vote on this final bill next week. Read our summary of the final bill here.

November 21, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1 on November 16 by a vote of 227-205. Later that day, the Chairman's Mark cleared the Senate Finance Committee by a vote of 14-12. The Senate legislative text has been released here.

September 29, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

First there was the Blueprint, then the Bullet Points, and now the “Framework.”

The tax code allows an enhanced deduction for the donation of a qualified conservation easement. IRC § 170(b)(1)(E). This deduction is generally limited to 50% of the donor's “contribution base,” which is the taxpayer's adjusted gross income (computed without regard to any net operating loss carryback for the taxable year), less the value of other charitable contributions for the year. IRC § 170(b)(1)(G).

July 30, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Preparing tax returns for farmers and ranchers requires specialized knowledge of tax rules and provisions that apply only to those in the business of farming. Individuals, partnerships, and trusts and estates generally report farm income and expenses on Form 1040, Schedule F. Taxpayers use this form to calculate net gain or loss from farming. Gains or losses from the sale of farm assets are reported on Form 4797.

On June 30, 2017, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a 1977 injunction requiring a railway company to rebuild a dike, expired under a 20-year limitations period set forth in Iowa Code § 614.1(6). Consequently, a drainage district’s action seeking to enforce that injunction was dismissed.

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently interpreted a manure easement agreement and agreed that a farmer was entitled to damages for a hog facility’s breach of the agreement. The court did reduce the damages from $70,433.93 to $43,909.99 after finding that the farmer had failed to prove damages for the year he planted soybeans.

December 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

As we close out the year, we pause to review important developments in agricultural law from 2016. The year saw several notable rulings under the Clean Water Act,as well as the progression of several key Clean Water Act cases. Federal regulators unveiled new rules, and Congress passed legislation impacting producers and ag businesses.

November 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It has been estimated that the Internal Revenue Code and its accompanying regulations comprise more than 10 million words. The complexity is staggering. Yet, every taxpayer is expected to follow every mandate. Business taxpayers, including farmers, should always seek out trusted tax advisors to guide them through the thorny tax code. The money paid for good counsel is a wise and necessary investment.

October 13, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In the case at hand, the court affirmed a district court ruling finding that the City of Bettendorf violated that principle by initiating a new streambank-stabilization project without acquiring expanded easements from the impacted landowners.

September 16, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments on September 14, 2016, regarding the common law claims set forth in the Des Moines Water Works complaint. The Court will now consider whether the lawsuit’s claims seeking money damages and injunctive relief can continue under Iowa law or whether the drainage districts are immune from these types of legal claims.

Just next door to the location of next week’s Farm Progress show (and across Iowa), Dakota Access is working to construct its pipeline to transport crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a refining station in Illinois. Last March, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) granted Dakota Access a hazardous liquid pipeline permit, clearing the way for the company to construct their 346-mile pipeline across Iowa.

May 19, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

We’ve recently received a number of inquiries regarding wind energy agreements. This article, while not offering legal advice, is intended to inform landowners as to some of the key legal issues they should consider when evaluating a wind energy agreement proposed by a developer.

April 28, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals shines the spotlight on Iowa’s private condemnation statute, Iowa Code § 6A.4(2). The statute, which takes some people by surprise,[i] grants private landowners a narrow power of eminent domain to acquire an access route to a landlocked parcel.

March 10, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Utilities Board voted 3-0 today to grant a hazardous liquid pipeline permit to Dakota Access, LLC under Iowa Code § 479B. The Board determined that the project would “promote the public necessity and convenience” as is required by the law.

During it's last public meeting on February 19, the Iowa Utilities Board stated that it will present its order regarding the Dakota Access LLC petition to build a crude oil pipeline across Iowa on March 9 or 10. That order will also determine whether Dakota Access will be allowed to exercise eminent domain over the nearly 300 tracts of land for which voluntary easements have not been granted.

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