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March 18, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: On April 11, 2017, DMWW announced that it would not be appealing this decision.

Here is an updated list on the pleadings and resources on the Des Moines Water Works litigation. 

Last year, many of us were surprised by an Iowa Court of Appeals decision that held that a single grazing horse was sufficient to establish a farm tenancy. Why did this matter?

March 9, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: The 2017 Iowa Legislative Session ended on April 22, 2017. No water quality legislation was enacted.

Update: On March 24, House Speaker Paul Ryan cancelled a vote scheduled for that day on the Republicans proposed repeal and replacement plan. Officials have stated that they will now turn their attention to tax reform.

February 28, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

HSB134 passed out of an Iowa House agricultural subcommittee on February 22. The bill would limit allowable damages in nuisance lawsuits filed against animal feeding operations that have used “existing prudent and generally utilized management practices reasonable” for their operations. The bill would also allow animal feeding operations that prevail in a nuisance lawsuit brought against them to recover reasonable attorney fees from the losing plaintiff.

February 24, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In a 4-3 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court today ruled­­­ that a 69-year-old woman was a “vulnerable elder” under Iowa’s Elder Abuse statute because of her age.

A Polk County District Court judge has ruled that the Iowa Utilities Board properly acted within its discretion in determining that the Dakota Access pipeline would promote the “public convenience and necessity.” The court also found that the Board had statutory authority to grant Dakota Access eminent domain

In a filing last evening, the parties to the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit—the Board of Water Works Trustees and the drainage districts—again showed they are miles apart in their interpretation of the law.

The Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a jury verdict awarding a brother more than $1.5 million in damages against his two sisters. The court found that substantial evidence supported the jury’s finding that the sisters exerted undue influence over their father, causing him to execute a will that disinherited the brother.

January 31, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Last week, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s order specifically enforcing a partition fence agreement between neighbors. The opinion illustrates that such an agreement does not necessarily preclude costly litigation.  It also demonstrates the importance of engaging legal counsel at the beginning of a dispute.

January 27, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Supreme Court today issued a ruling favoring the drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties in the high profile Des Moines Water Works nitrate litigation. This ruling effectively means that the federal court will enter summary judgment in favor of the districts with respect to DMWW’s claims for money damages and injunctive relief and will likely grant similar relief with respect to DMWW’s claims alleging violations of DMWW’s constitutional rights.

January 24, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Open enrollment for purchasing 2017 health plans on the Marketplace ends January 31. In the meantime, Congress and President Trump have been paving the way to unwind and recalibrate the Affordable Care Act, a massive chunk of (largely) tax legislation.

January 25, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On February 10, 2017, Iowa Department of Revenue issued helpful documents to help preparers contend with nonconformity.

January 12, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A custom feeding endorsement may not cover growers for unexpected or negligent losses to livestock. An opinion from the Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday again raises this important warning.

In light of the tough farm economy, dealers are offering producers even more options when it comes to purchasing upgraded equipment. Because different tax implications flow from different contractual arrangements, it is crucial that a producer understand the true nature of a lease or purchase contract before he signs it. This will avoid big surprises come tax time.  

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.

December 29, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Supreme Court recently provided an excellent overview of the rules governing the partition of concurrently owned property in Iowa. In reversing a court of appeals decision ordering a partition in kind, the Court reiterated that Iowa law favors partition by sale.

This December 20, 2016 webinar is designed for both practitioners and producers. Teaching this webinar is Dr. Keri Jacobs, an assistant professor and cooperatives extension economist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University.

“Midnight” action by the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) caused a stir this week. GIPSA, the USDA division tasked with interpreting the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, 7 U.S.C. 181, (the Act) unveiled an interim final rule and two proposed rules that have been in the works for many years.

December 13, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

While death may be beneficial for tax purposes, it is difficult to regard it as a tax avoidance scheme.

This line is a great summary of the reasoning of the Tax Court in a recent case that illustrates an interesting interplay between cash accounting and death.

The Senate today overwhelming concurred with the House, sending the 21st Century Cures Act to the President for signature. It is expected that President Obama will sign the bill into law. 

December 1, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In a case study of the balance of governmental powers, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled this month that local ordinances passed by three Hawaii Counties to ban the cultivation of GM (genetically modified) plants were preempted by state and federal law.

November 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The November 8, 2016, election will be long-remembered. Although the result was surprising to many, it was largely driven by rural Americans seeking change to the status quo. But, what will a new Administration actually mean for rural America?

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.

November 22, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: On November 22, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction, blocking implementation of the new Rule nationwide, pending futher review. The court ruled that the state plaintiffs have established a prima facie case that the Department’s salary level under the Final Rule and the automatic updating mechanism are without statutory authority. It is unlikely the matter will be resolved before January 20, 2017, the date a new administration steps in. Consequently, the future of the Rule is very uncertain.

The Iowa Court of Appeals today affirmed a half a million dollar judgment against Prestage Farms in a neighboring landowner’s nuisance lawsuit alleging that the company’s hog confinement substantially deprived her of the comfortable use and enjoyment of her property.[i]

November 18, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

I’ve called it the “Hokey-Pokey” law. The California Legislature passed AB 1437 in 2010 to make it a crime to sell a shelled egg in California if that egg came from a hen confined in a cage that did not allow it to “lie down, stand up, fully extend its limbs, and turn around freely” (hence the Hokey-Pokey reference).

November 10, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Larry died intestate, survived by his third wife and sons from a previous marriage. So begins a recent opinion from the Iowa Court of Appeals. 

March 24, 2016 | Joseph A. Peiffer
October 31, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Marketplace open enrollment for 2017 begins November 1, 2016. Consequently, beginning tomorrow, eligible Americans can go to healthcare.gov to enroll in a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act. Likewise, many open enrollment periods for employer-provided health care coverage are also underway. 

October 28, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Supreme Court today issued an opinion clarifying the reach of Iowa Const. art. I, § 24. The Court ruled that the provision does not apply to lands suitable for agricultural purposes if only an incidental portion of the land is used for farming purposes. Iowa Const. art. I, § 24 states:

Last year, the Iowa Department of Revenue unveiled a new form for claiming the Iowa Capital Gain Deduction. IA 100 was designed to collect key information up-front, rather than after the fact, regarding transactions qualifying for the rather unique Iowa deduction.

This morning, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying that an at-will contract with an independent contractor can be unilaterally modified prospectively, upon reasonable notice. A proposal for modification effectively terminates the original contract and offers new terms for acceptance. The modification can be accepted by performance or the contract terminates.

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.

October 11, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

During this election season, we’ve had a number of questions regarding what the candidates' tax proposals would mean for typical taxpayers, particularly farmers. In this post, I’ll provide a high level summary of several of the key provisions proposed by the two major candidates.

September 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

During a financial downturn, the law of secured transactions becomes more important. More financial impairment means more disputes over who has priority in a pot that’s not large enough to go around. During these times, a key, but sometimes overlooked, component of debtor-creditor law—the law of agricultural liens—rises in importance. This fact sheet provides readers with a review of agricultural lien law in Iowa, included the creation, perfection, and enforcement of these nonconsensual, statutory liens.

September 28, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A case from the Iowa Court of Appeals today highlights a little provision in an Iowa wind energy agreement that may have killed a contract for the sale of farmland.  This case should remind anyone negotiating a wind energy agreement to understand the provisions and their consequences before you sign the agreement.

September 27, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Last Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

September 27, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Syngenta litigation reached a crucial milestone on September 26, 2016, when U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum issued an order certifying a nationwide class and eight statewide classes of producer plaintiffs in the multi-district litigation pending since 2014. Many farmers will soon receive notice informing them that they are automatically included in this class action, unless they choose to opt-out. 

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.

September 15, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Note: On July 13, 2017, the Iowa Supreme Court granted a petition for further review of this case. We will keep you posted!

September 13, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a big win to CAFO owners last Friday when it ruled that the EPA abused its discretion by concluding that the release of personal information about CAFO owners would not invade substantial privacy interests.

September 6, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It is well-known that fewer people in the United States are getting married. In fact, according to the CDC, marriage rates in the United States have been in a steady decline since the 1980s. Conversely, cohabitation rates are steadily rising.

August 31, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Owning property is richly rewarding. It can also be fraught with liability. This fact sheet provides a general overview of several key legal issues that owners and occupiers of rural property in Iowa should understand.

August 26, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

During the past several years it often seemed like the day would never come. But Monday, August 29, the new FAA rule for integrating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the U.S. airspace is effective. The rule applies to all UAS weighing less than 55 pounds (sUAS) that are flown for commercial (not hobby) purposes.

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.

It was the wrong procedural posture to create new law. But a recent case from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut has some interesting discussion regarding limits to the FAA’s right to regulate airspace.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has ensured that only a select few pay any estate taxes in America. To be liable for estate tax in 2016, for example, you must die with more than $5.45 million in assets.  The news gets better for married taxpayers. 

August 1, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A case from the Iowa Court of Appeals last week should warn attorneys and clients that they must remain on the same page during settlement negotiations. If they don’t, the result can be bad…both for the client and the attorney.

The background facts are summarized in these short sentences from the co­­urt’s opinion:

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