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Your Signature is Valid.

Even if credit card companies don’t require signatures anymore, signatures are important. Signing deals that don’t benefit you in the future can be held against you.

Making deals without a Crystal Ball, escalator clause, or opportunity to get out can be harmful to your bottom line. Recently, in Blackhawk county, a couple who entered into a lopsided deal to sell 80 acres of prime ground to the renter were held to have entered into a valid contract, despite their attorney’s legal maneuvers to get it declared a future gift. The deal called for a set price to purchase the farm by the tenant when the couple died. The couple had advice of multiple lawyers (one who strongly recommended against it) and after inking the deal in 2010, had seller’s remorse in 2015. The right to purchase required the farm ground to not be developed or a penalty was to be paid, and the purchasing tenants had to be married at the time of purchase. That, along with the promise to pay, was enough to have the court declare the agreement binding.

Spraying Can Lead to Suing.

Pesticides drift when the weather and applicator are out of sync with one another. Sometimes it’s just physics and the weather, but sometimes its operators distracted by Snapchat. Regardless, if you are in the receiving or giving end of a spray drift situation, consider the following Document.

Pictures are worth 1000 words and 1000 words can paint a great picture. Document all potential evidence, including taking photographs or samples of damage, keeping a log of spray applications made in the area, noting any custom applicators applying pesticide in the area, documenting environmental conditions like wind speed, direction, and temperatures, and getting statements from any witnesses who might have seen the recent application. Photograph for weeks to track the damage to the plants. The more evidence, the better. Get an agronomist or scout in to look at the damage both sooner and later. The State has lab facilities that can be used to help identify damage, but they are one lab for an entire state of farms. Plus, the fines that state regulators assert don’t go to your bottom line.

Consider talking with your agronomist in advance regarding where samples might be sent in case of a potential claim, and consider how to preserve the evidence effectively before you are watching your field wilt before your eyes.

Talk

Make clear maps of what your fields are, how to get to them, and what products you are looking to have on them. Share them with your custom applicators and ask questions to make sure they understand. Taking time to talk with neighboring operators can be very important. Before the season gets rolling, having a conversation with neighboring operators about who is growing what, consideration for tolerant varieties, and identifying nearby sensitive crops can help avoid damage. Also, misery loves company, check with the neighbors to see if they received any unexpected damage.

Weigh the Price to be Paid.

Damage to a crop from spray drift can result in in damages for the impacted operator.  

An initial consideration is to analyze who to sue. The custom operator who has no insurance and drives a 1974 Jeep Truck may not have insurance to cover your claims. That may result in you spending dollars to get a piece of paper that says you are owed money and nothing more. Consider the costs of litigation. It is like poker, paying $10,000 in to see if you can win $7,000 more is not math a lot of people accept.

In other Ag News

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Dunn alleges that Texas landowners are stealing NM water and selling it back across the border for fracking. This presents an interesting issue of how neighboring states deal with differing legal approaches to groundwater. In Texas, a landowner owns his groundwater and use is governed by the rule of capture, but in New Mexico, prior appropriation is the rule and a person has to obtain a permit from the state to use groundwater.

We don’t have a water issue like this in Iowa yet, but continued demands for water may lead to such fights with our neighbors in the future.


Farm Bill Mark Up and Debate

The house and the Senate have wildly different versions of the bill and the Senate one seems to curry more favor with producer groups.

John Deere sues AGCO and Precision Planting Over Alleged Patent Infringement. 

John Deere claims that AGCO and Precision Planting’s new high-speed planters infringe on patents for ExactEmerge planter.  Funny how this claim comes out right after regulatory approval to buy Precision was not granted. Todd Janzen, an Ag Tech lawyer, points out, because the Deere patent is still a toddler (2014) this case has a lot of dollars at stake and will likely be extremely hard-fought by both sides.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
  • Patrick B. Dillon
  • Jill Dillon
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Patrick B. Dillon enjoys finding solutions to legal issues and catching problems for clients. Pat practices in the Sumner office regularly represents clients in district, associate district and magistrate courts for agricultural, real estate, criminal and collection issues. He drafts wills and trusts, creates estate plans and helps clients through the probate process.
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Jill Dillon focuses on family law, estate planning and IRS matters. Jill is a University of Northern Iowa undergraduate (Political Science Cum Laude) and a Drake University Law School graduate. Jill spent extensive time advocating for low income tax payers in front of the IRS and the State of Iowa Department of Revenue while at Drake.

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