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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 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:

July 27, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Iowa fence law has long sought to protect agricultural interests. Iowa fencing statutes date from earliest times, predating the Iowa Code of 1851. Of the current Iowa fence statute, Iowa Code ch. 359A, the Iowa Supreme Court has stated, “It is difficult to imagine a more deeply rooted Iowa statutory provision.”[i]

July 27, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Court of Appeals issued its opinion today in the seemingly never-ending Baur Farms litigation. The court affirmed the district court’s order, which dismissed the minority shareholder’s lawsuit seeking to dissolve the corporation on grounds of “shareholder oppression.”

July 27, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution designed to draw conflicts to a close without costly and time-consuming litigation. Typically, a neutral third-party mediator works with two sides to a dispute in an attempt to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. If a mediation agreement is signed, the parties are bound by the terms, as they would be bound by any contract.

July 25, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

By now you’ve probably read about the Pennsylvania woman who was recently sentenced to prison for various crimes stemming from her decades-long scam of posing as a lawyer. She had no law license and had never gone to law school, yet she practiced tax and estate law for 10 years, even becoming a partner of her small firm in rural Pennsylvania and president of her local bar association. Which, of course, begs the question, “How was this possible?”

Click for a list of pleadings and motions regarding the Des Moines Water Works case.

July 14, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It’s legislation that completely satisfies no one. However, to the majority of lawmakers, it is a better choice than the prospect of food manufacturers, producers, and retailers facing 50 different standards for disclosing the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in food. 

June 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

When a court orders a farm lease to continue in light of a contentious relationship, additional litigation is likely to ensue. And that's just what happened in a case decided by the Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday.

June 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Barring unexpected immediate Congressional action, Vermont Act 120, the nation’s first mandatory GMO labeling law, will go into effect tomorrow. What does this mean for the rest of the nation?

June 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On June 21, 2016, the FAA issued its long-awaited final rule, 14 CFR part 107 (Part 107), for integrating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the U.S. airspace.

June 29, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

No, the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit has not been settled! Rather, the Iowa Court of Appeals today issued an opinion interpreting a section of Iowa drainage law and determining that it imposes no legal duties on a county board of supervisors.

June 27, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

As of 2012, Iowa had 88,637 farms.[i] Of those, 40 percent were farmed under a cash rent lease, and 7.1 percent were farmed pursuant to a crop share lease.[ii] Given these numbers, it is crucial that Iowa landowners and producers understand the legal implications and requirements of their farmland leases.

June 15, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Court of Appeals—while denying a minority owner’s request to have his family LLC dissolved—breathed life back into his quest to receive “fair value” for his 27% ownership interest. The court reversed a trial court order that had directed the brother to transfer his interest in the LLC to the other two owners for no consideration.

The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that an approved jurisdictional determination from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finding that property contains “waters of the United States” is “final agency action” subject to judicial review. This is a big victory for landowners throughout the country.

A federal bankruptcy case has been shaping interpretation of the Iowa agricultural supply dealer lien statute since the operator of a farrow-to-finish hog facility declared bankruptcy in 2009.

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.

May 13, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

This week, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued two opinions analyzing farm leases. We told you Wednesday about a most interesting case where the court held that a residential acreage tenant with a single horse was entitled to September 1 statutory termination notice.

May 11, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In a most interesting case from the Iowa Court of Appeals today, the letter of the law prevailed, and the court ruled that a single, 38-year-old grazing horse was all that was needed to create a “farm tenancy” on a six-acre parcel. Thus, the court found that landlords were required to send statutory termination notice by September 1 to properly terminate a lease for a residential acreage (less than 40 acres) where the only "agricultural activity" was one grazing horse.

April 29, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It’s a common situation that often leads to conflict. A father dies without a will and his three children inherit his farm through the rules of intestate succession. Or maybe an aunt dies with a will leaving a one-third share of her 80-acre pasture to her nephew and the remaining two-third’s share to her niece. In both cases, the parties inheriting the property are tenants in common.

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.

Last week, the Iowa Legislature enacted new legislation to require that an agreement to terminate a farm lease be in writing. The Governor signed HF 2344 into law on April 13, 2016.

April 14, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The multidistrict Syngenta litigation, which is now deep in discovery for the first bellwether trial, saw several important developments last week. Judge Lungstrum entered several orders worth noting.

If there’s a takeaway sentence from the latest Iowa Court of Appeals decision to analyze a breach of warranty claim, it is this: The doctrine of unconscionability…does not rescue people from bad bargains.

In other words, be careful what you sign, it could come back to bite you.

April 7, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A case from the Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday demonstrates the need for clear contractual language in farm leases. Some may say this principle is important even when family members are involved. This case demonstrates the importance of this principle especially when family members are involved.