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August 12, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Perhaps the most misunderstood portion of Iowa farm lease law is that governing the proper termination of a lease. Iowa law is unique in that under Iowa Code §562.6, a farm lease renews automatically—under the same terms and conditions as the original lease—absent specific action by one or both parties to the lease. The automatic renewal provision applies to both oral and written leases.

You've probably heard that Congress passed a short-term bill to keep the nation’s highway trust fund on life support through October of this year.  The House passed H.R. 3236 by a vote of 385-34 on Wednesday and the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 91-4 yesterday. The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 became law when President Obama signed it on July 31, 2015.

We’ve been keeping you informed about a Texas company’s proposal to build a crude oil pipeline across Iowa to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

July 24, 2015 | Roger A. McEowen

Of importance to tax practitioners is what the Congress might do with the tax provisions that expired at the end of 2014 that need legislation to extend them through 2015 or beyond.  Of these expired provisions are expense method depreciation and bonus depreciation.

Agricultural law is often “law by the exception.”  For a variety of reasons, the law views many aspects of agricultural production as significantly different from other industrial enterprises.  As a consequence, in such situations general legal rules have been deemed inappropriate as applied to agriculture.

It’s been a wet summer in many places around the country. But much of the attention on water has not stemmed from the heavy rains. Rather, the focus this summer continues to be on water quality. 

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently decided two breach of contract cases, each of which provides a useful review of key provisions of Iowa contract law.

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently affirmed that negligence must be proved and that merely showing that an accident occurred is not evidence.

I’ve had many inquiries over the past months from farmers, agribusinesses and their attorneys about lawsuits against Syngenta.  The inquiries usually contain a sense of intrigue and curiosity, combined with skepticism—sort of, “Is this for real?”  Here are the results of my investigation thus far.  

The question is a common one. It usually sounds something like this: "My neighbor has a large number of trees on his side of our common fence line. The trees are large and drop dead limbs on my property. Even more troubling, the overhang from the trees prevents production from about five rows of my crops.  Can I require my neighbors to trim those trees? What are my rights and obgligations?"

The answer, as usual, is, “It depends.”

The U.S. courts, over a long period of time have established the following four different approaches to deal with this type of situation.

July 2, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Kansas Supreme Court recently disbarred a lawyer. It wasn’t the first disbarment of the year, and it likely won’t be the last.[i] The case of In re Rankin, however, may be the most head shaking. It’s a case study of a lawyer who apparently did not believe that the rules applied to him.

July 2, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

They wasted no time. The day the new Clean Water Rule was officially published, June 29, 2015, the lawsuits began. As of today, 27 states have joined lawsuits challenging the validity of the new Rule unveiled May 27 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

July 1, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Federal Judge Susan Mollway has struck down a Maui County Ordinance banning GMO crops. "A Bill Placing a Moratorium on the Cultivation of Genetically Modified Engineered Organisms" was passed by ballot initiative on November 4, 2014. Litigation over the Ordinance ensued immediately.

June 25, 2015 | Roger A. McEowen

For many persons, estate planning also includes planning for the possibility of long-term health care.  Nursing home care is expensive and can require the liquidation of assets to generate the funds necessary to pay the nursing home bill unless appropriate planning has been taken. 

Recent announcements of proposed rate hikes by Iowa insurers likely mean that premiums for many individual insurance policies will rise substantially in 2016. Because of these increases, thousands of Iowans who have traditionally purchased health insurance policies from a broker on the individual market may instead decide to shop for policies offered through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) online healthcare exchange (the Marketplace). 

June 18, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Mistakes happen. Sometimes mistakes lead to legal liability, as in the case of negligence. But sometimes, where it’s apparent that a mistake in an instrument was a mutual one, equity steps in to “reform” the mistake. No harm. No foul. The document is reformed to reflect the true intent of the parties. A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals demonstrates the application of this doctrine.

June 11, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A recent opinion from the Iowa Court of Appeals reminds us of the importance of written plans for family farming businesses.

On January 20, 2015, Dakota Access, LLC, filed with the Iowa Utilities Board a petition for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit.

June 5, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In this one-hour webinar, Kristine discusses the law of eminent domain in Iowa. Particular emphasis is placed on the legal implications of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline project pending before the Iowa Utilities Board.

June 4, 2015 | Roger McEowen

This articles contains information on elder law. 

May 29, 2015 | Roger A. McEowen

Estate, business and succession planning changed dramatically with the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) in early 2013.  Now, with a federal estate tax exemption set at $5.43 million for death in 2015 and a “coupled” gift tax exemption of the same amount, very few estates will be subject to the federal estate tax. 

May 28, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In this webinar, Kristine discusses the basics of establishing an LLC. Although the emphasis is on Iowa law, the concepts are applicable to those from other states as well.

May 27, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The EPA and Army Corps unveiled their long-awaited final Clean Water Rule on May 27, 2015. The proposed rule had been pending for more than a year. 

In this Ag Law webinar, Kristine discusses the legal issues associated with flying unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as unmanned aircraft systems.

To view the webinar, click here.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 subjects hazardous material to federal regulation if it is solid waste.

May 7, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals reminds us that in order to acquire title to the property of another through a prescriptive easement (a non-exclusive form of adverse possession), the plaintiff must strictly prove the elements of the claim. In this case, the plaintiff proffered no such proof.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue announced special relief last week for poultry producers in Minnesota who were impacted by the H5N2 avian influenza outbreak. The Department announced that these producers will not be assessed penalties or interest if the outbreak prevented them from filing state returns or paying state taxes on time.

A recent Fifth Circuit opinion established that a federal court has jurisdiction to review the EPA’s denial of a rulemaking petition. It did, however, go on to establish a “highly deferential” standard of review, placing upon the agency only a “slight” burden to justify its decision to decline a necessity determination.

Financial stress in agriculture creates numerous legal issues.  One of those that may not necessarily be high on the “radar screen” involves the purchasing of machinery and equipment.  Does it matter if the purchase is from a private party or an implement dealer?  It just might.  There are at least a couple of common scenarios to watch out for.

A federal court in Vermont recently denied the request of food manufacturers to enjoin the enforcement of Vermont’s new Genetic Engineering (GE) labeling law set to go into effect next year. The court did, however, also refuse to dismiss the majority of the plaintiffs’ claims. As such, the validity of the law remains unsettled, and more opinions will issue down the road.

April 27, 2015 | Roger A. McEowen

We all know that the deadline for filing the federal income tax return is April 15.

The Iowa Court of Appeals has affirmed a judgment against the plaintiff in an action where one sister was suing another for breach of trust. The defendant was ultimately granted $38,893.62 in attorney fees and expenses as litigation expenses incurred in administering the trust.

April 24, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Court of Appeals Wednesday reduced a damages award granted to a couple who claimed their neighbor intentionally removed trees along their fence line. The plaintiffs, were self-described “tree people” who lived on a five and one-half acre rural land parcel. Their property adjoined that of the defendant, who was a farmer.

April 23, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In 2013, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the Iowa Recreational Use Statute did not bar a negligence action brought by a parent chaperone against dairy farmers giving a gratuitous farm tour to a kindergarten class.

April 22, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

If you are an Iowa corn farmer, you most likely have been contacted by an attorney wishing to represent you in a lawsuit against Syngenta. Since last fall, plaintiffs have filed hundreds of lawsuits alleging that Syngenta harmed the U.S. corn market by prematurely commercializing genetically modified (GM) corn seed before it was approved for import by China. 

The United States Supreme Court is today hearing oral arguments in a raisin growers’ case raising important Fifth Amendment questions.

April 16, 2015 | Roger A. McEowen

In recent years, agriculture has seen increased litigation brought by parties that are generally opposed to various types of agricultural production.  Large scale crop farming and livestock operations are in the cross-hairs, as evidenced recently by the attack in Iowa brought by the Des Moines Water Works against farmers that use field tile drainage systems to make their land suitable for cropping practices (drainage is “anti-social”) and various lawsuits brought by rural residents and activist groups against concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). 

A Missouri statute designed to limit the damages recoverable by landowners in nuisance actions against farming operations has survived its first major challenge.

In 2011, Missouri enacted Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.296, a "right to farm" statute designed to supplant the common law of private nuisance where the alleged nuisance stems from an agricultural operation.

April 15, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Court of Appeals again set forth the requirements to prove an easement by prescription as yet another family feud played out in the court system.

April 14, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently had the opportunity to interpret Iowa Code §562.5A, which, in the absence of a writing to the contrary, grants tenants the right to harvest corn stalks until the lease terminates. Little has been written about his law, which was enacted in 2010 in response to the growing value of corn stalks.

The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed a declaratory judgment from the Clarke County District Court that authorized the use of eminent domain for a controversial new water reservoir. The district court’s order had declared that a proposal by the Clarke County Reservoir Commission (Commission) to condemn private property to construct a reservoir met the “public use,” “public purpose,” or “public improvement” requirements of Iowa Code §6A.24(2).

April 8, 2015 | Roger A. McEowen

Most U.S.

In a blogpost yesterday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy announced that their offices had sent a draft final version of what's been called the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to the Office of Management and Budget on April 3.

April 3, 2015 | Roger A. McEowen

As the general economy continues to struggle, the farm economy will have another tough year.  Crop prices have declined significantly from where they were a couple of years ago, and financial stress among producers is increasing.  In the general economy, the March 2015 jobs report tells an awful tale – a record 93.175 million Americans 16 years old and older are not working, the January and Feb

April 2, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On April 1, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit admonished the USDA for denying farm program benefits to a farmer and forcing him to “navigate a bureaucratic labyrinth,” all the while “demonstrat[ing] a disregard for its own regulations.”

April 1, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

April Fool's Day seems the appropriate time to highlight what's become a near daily mantra: beware of tax-related scams and schemes. Unfortunately, these warnings continue because the sophistication of the scammers is exploding. No longer is it merely the naive who are being sucked in by these scams.

March 30, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Iowa recently ruled in favor of the debtors in an adversary action brought by their bank. The bank argued that the debtors’ obligations under a promissory note and an agricultural security agreement should be excepted from discharge in their Chapter 7 bankruptcy under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6).

March 27, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently affirmed a judgment in favor of one brother against another in a case alleging breach of an oral contract for the sale of hay.

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently had the opportunity to interpret a family settlement agreement. Determining that the agreement was unambiguous, the court affirmed the district court’s interpretation.

March 27, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

USDA has just announced that owners and producers will have one more week to reallocate base acres or elect between Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The new deadline for both activities is now April 7, 2015. This marks the second extension for owners to update their yield histories or reallocate base acres.