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Now is the time to brush up on  farm labor  laws to avoid long unpleasant conversations with IRS agents, lawyers, and more your own lawyer.

Records

You can run into problems by not keeping/maintaining records of the names and permanent addresses of temporary agricultural employees, dates of birth of minors under age 19, or hours worked by employees.

Working Hours:

Under State Law: 14-15 year olds can work upto 4 hours per day when school is in session, for    28 hours a week, but school cannot be missed. Working in agriculture this is cut in ½.

16 year olds just need to  avoid hazardous occupations list. (including for farm operations: Operating power driven wood working machines, power driven hoists, power driven metal forming machines, meat slicers,  or balers, band saws or chain saws, demolition   roofing and excavation).

Before my young readers get too excited, a child of any age may work in any occupation or business at any time doing any type of work in a business operated by child’s parents if parent is on premises.

 

It is easier to use a vet you trust or find somebody who can give you a referral to a good vet than it is to sue a poorly performing vet. If the animal is valuable enough to sue over, insure it. When considering a lawsuit against a veterinarian, here are some things you should consider:

Veterinary malpractice cases are difficult for plaintiffs for two main reasons:

1) It is hard to find a veterinarian who will testify against another veterinarian; and
2) Animals are personal property.  You can't usually cannot recover pain & suffering   or damages based on the sentimental value. That takes the wind out of most plaintiff's cases right away.

The burden of proof in a veterinary malpractice action is always on the plaintiff.  
The plaintiff must prove:

1)      A veterinarian's acts or omissions failed to meet the standard of care;
2)      Acts or omissions were negligently performed;
3)      Negligently performed acts or injuries caused the animal's injury or death; and
4)      As a result, the plaintiff was damaged.

The professional duty of a veterinarian usually begins with obtaining a history of the animal (which assistants can be used to develop) and  a physical examination. The veterinarian is required to use professional leaning, skill, and care, beginning with the initial contact, the diagnosis of the problem, the decision and execution of treatment and follow-up care.  

In obtaining permission for treatment, there should be disclosure of the risk of the treatment or drugs. However, in one case where a horse died within fifteen minutes of being injected with a drug, the court held that there was no duty to disclose or warn when the odds of a lethal out come were 1 in 25,000. I think people bet on horses to win races with worse odds.

In the early 1990's, a long time Nevada cattle rancher refused to pay grazing fee permits payable to the Federal Government.   He claimed he had rights to the ground predating the federal government. Two decades of lawsuits have ensued and continue. Legally, I believe the rancher never had  have a good case.

Personally, I like the approach offered by Texas Lawyer Zach Brady

"I would like to see a serious effort to privatize most federal land. Not Yosemite or Yellowstone or Glacier, not Gettysburg, not Mt Rushmore.  Garden variety range land could be sold. Get it appraised. Give current tenants first shot, maybe even at a discount if they have been grazing it for 10 years and are paid up on fees. Only American citizens who file taxes each of the last ten years can submit bids." Why does the federal government have to own scrub land anyway?

This battle was spurred by a 1993 decision of the Federal government to impose restrictions on grazing specified land which was inhabited by a federally protected desert tortoise on the endangered species list. Ironically, a 23 year long refuge for tortoises is now being cut for lack of funding and the tortoises in that protected facility are slated to be killed.

The action has heated up again because the feds have taken steps to remove the rancher's 900 head of cattle. Protesters are being restricted to "freedom of speech zones", out of the way of the government forces. Freedom of speech zones sounds like something out of Orwell's 1984, not something the founding fathers envisioned.  However, our desire to protect abortion clinic users from upfront confrontation with protesters, has spawned this concept of limiting free speech to "zones", which are often times ineffective at having an audience with access to hear them.

We are here from the government to help you, and arbitrarily penalize your ability to take part in government programs….

Starting crop year 2014 , producers whose average adjusted gross income is over $900,000  over the preceding three years are not eligible to receive payments or benefits from most   FSA/NRCS programs. Unfortunately, depending on how you hold your assets will determine how much of the income is counted.  

For a C corporation, the limit is calculated by taking taxable income plus charitable contributions.  However, for S corporations only ordinary income is reviewed.  For estates or trusts, FSA looks at taxable income plus charitable deductions.  For limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships ,limited partnerships, or similar entities, FSA uses total income from trade or business plus guaranteed payments to partners.  For individuals, adjusted gross income is used. The problem is what line they look on to get this taxable income.

S corporations  or partnership do not get the advantage of 179 (accelerated depreciation)  as rules require it to be reported on the tax return under a separate line and the FSA guidance doesn't account for the  separate reporting. A C- Corporation  or self employed tax forms folds Section 179 expenses right into the income determination line. In practice this produces a lower income level for FSA/NRCS purposes even though for tax purposes they have the same net result.

Many folks use S corps for farming operations as C Corps have a double taxation issue that many like to avoid. While it would be a simple fix to tell the USDA/NRCS to fold back in Sec. 179 it is never that easy getting two divisions of the administrative branch of government to figure things out. I bet either the courts or the legislature will have to provide the fix, which could take months or years to happen.

Monday, April 22, 2019
  • 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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