April 28, 2017 Weekly Round Up

It’s an uncommon occurrence for me, but this week I’ve not been on the road!  I did make a presentation via internet technology to a great group of East Texas producers at the Select Beef Producers Meeting on Wednesday.  To those of you joining from that group, welcome!

Here are a few ag law stories in the news this week.

* President Trump Issues Executive Order “Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America.”  On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order creating the “Interagency Task Force and Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.”  The task force, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, will include numerous government officials.  The task force is instructed to “identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote in rural America agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life…”  The task force is instructed to submit a report to the President based on its findings within 180 days.  [Read Executive Order here.]

* Family Farms Can Be Corporate Farms.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people complain about “corporate farms.”  There are many instances when a family farm might choose to incorporate or form an LLC or use some other business structure to hold their operation.  They are still family farms, nothing changes from a day to day standpoint just because a separate legal entity is formed.  Wanda at Minnesota Farm Living wrote a great blog post on this issue, using her family’s swine farm as an example.  [Read blog post here.]

Photo by Britt Fisk Photography, Clayton, NM

Ten Tips to a Successful Farm Transition.  Jennifer Blazek with the University of Wisconsin recently published an article outlining 10 of the top tips for folks to consider when planning to transfer the farm.  Her points are spot on and include things like starting early, thinking about being fair even if that is not equal, getting it in writing, and making sure everyone is involved.    [Read article here.]

*Federal Judge Dismisses Case Against “Drone Slayer.”  A dismissal has occurred in a much-watched lawsuit filed against a drone operator against a landowner who shot down the drone flying over his property, and who later referred to himself as the “drone slayer.”  The drone operator filed a declaratory judgment action, requesting the that court determine whether his drone was trespassing at the time it was shot down.  Unfortunately, the lawsuit did not address the critical legal issue at hand–whether a drone flying over property is guilty of trespass under the law–but was decided on a jurisdictional issue.   The court found that federal court was not the proper venue for the case, which should have been filed in state court instead.  The case involves a question of Kentucky state law (trespass) between two Kentucky residents, and there is no federal jurisdiction.  The court rejected the plaintiff’s attempt to prove jurisdiction because of the fact that drones are federally regulated, finding that since there was no issue in this case dealing with enforcement of federal regulation, only a state issue.  [Read article here and opinion here.]

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