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According to the US National Intelligence Office, by 2030 (that’s not that far away) the world is projected to be urban, dangerous, and not dominated by American interests.  United States, European, and Japanese global incomes (currently at 56% of the world's income) will fall to less than ½ while China, India, Russia and Brazil will grab increased income opportunities.  Where income is generated is where the power is generated as well.

Further, the report goes on to indicate that of the projected 8.3 billion people, sixty percent will live in urban areas.  By comparison, in 1950, only 30% of the world lived in urban areas. Urban areas, especially those bounded by geographical restraints like water and international boundaries, have entrenched criminal networks, insider power struggles, and sanitation and health issues. Who wants to live there? Instead the areas away from the urban areas will grow, as cheaper housing and land will bring residents and manufacturing. This will put further pressure on the areas that are still available to grow crops to produce.  In addition, all those folks are going to consume water.  Demand is expected to increase by 40%.

Ag is highly dependent upon access to water and fertilizer, which is an energy intensive resource.  How does the American Ag sector ensure access to energy to create fertilizer and not limit access to water by diverting water for urban use or regulating ourselves out of access to the water?

California Proposition 2 enacted Jan 1 abolishes confinement crates for veal and hogs and laying cages for hens.  Their compatriots on the left coast in Washington and Oregon (along with Michigan and Ohio) are considering similar laws. New Jersey’s governor vetoed a similar law in November. This impacts Iowa, just not California. Iowa is the number one producer of eggs, selling about 40 million eggs per day out of state.  Iowa brought a law suit against California asserting that the  California laws violate the federal constitution by favoring instate producers who have to meet the requirement over out of state producers who do not. Iowa lost at the trial court level but has filed an appeal. Starbucks, Burger King and Whole Foods have pledged to not buy eggs from caged laying hens. Combined, the response from the industry is telling. Egg producers have to put fewer hens per cage or reconfigure existing house. Projections are that egg prices will rise 10%-40% as result of this and avian flu issues in Canadian and Mexican flocks.  The hog industry will have similar long term impacts, with several producer groups already moving away from gestation crates.

The implication is clear, social legation and not science based legislation is gaining a foothold in the statehouses of the Union. The hallowed reverence for the farmer is fading, as less than 2% of the population is connected directly to an active Ag operation. The stereotypes of bib overalls,   hand milking cows and putting along on a narrow front tractor with a six foot disk are fading. The question is what is the new stereotype of the farmer? When urban dwellers think of farmers they will either see technology using stewards of animal and natural resources who are vested in their product or they will see miles of confinement pig barns, piles of manure and endless rows of grain crops with no human connection.  When one of these bills come up, who with the legislator think about when casting the vote?  Some commentators believe the only reason New Jersey vetoed the legislation is because of the governors concern of his own presidential run, which of course, runs through Iowa.

Being a better boss primarily requires us to communicate with our employees effectively. Recognizing that the leader and the led are only two portions of the puzzle, the message and the goal must also be considered when developing an effective communication relationship with employees. If you don't communicate the goal, the led will substitute their own goal and when the goals don't match, conflict results.

For example, during the spring, just prior to planting, your employee reports to work a 6 AM as normal, expecting to be gone by 2 PM, as per normal arrangement. The employee tells her husband to plan her to be home to prepare their own equipment for spring planting. However, you have decided to move equipment to your equipment to the field in hopes of calibrating all the electronics so that you can start when the crop insurance planting window opens up. Your goal is to make sure that on the first available day you are running hard, and you view this prep day as critical to get it all done, regardless of time spent. As mid afternoon approaches, two very different sets of expectations are brewing, which could have been avoided by cluing the employee in at the start of the day or beginning of the week on the things you, the employer, wanted accomplished.

The water wars in the weststarted heating up in 2014. The news and "drought shamming" celebrities are late to the party. In Texas in 2014,  farmers, including a 500 acre cotton farmer, were told they did not have access to  the River Brazos for their crop, but did not restrict the use of cities along the river a well, saying public safety trumps water law principles. The same  year in California, a 1200 acre vegetable operation is only going to plant 400 acres because of water reduction.  In Southern Texas, rice farmers have not had water for 4 years, while Austin continues to consume more and more water. In Nevada, the reservoirs are so low, residents talk about "bath tub rings" around the holding lakes, the record low level expose shore and side wall that haven't seen the sun in a long time.
Nevada and Utah are at odds over shipping water across borders, Kansas is not upset at Colorado Nebraska about leaving the Big 12, but rather about diverting water from the Republican  River that is apportioned to Kansas. Texas and New Mexico are in front of the Supreme Court about water usage.

That vegetable farm that is 2/3ds idle won' t have excess produce to donate to local food shelters as it has in past, nor will it employ as many people. Low lakes means low boating numbers, which cuts into tourism dollars. The laws in the Western States are set up to cause conflict. For example, in some states you can pump as much as you want from under your ground , but if your neighbor pumps it out first, you have no recourse absent a court order. When your neighbor is a new sub development with a passion for orderly neat patches of lush Kentucky blue grass, washed cars and golf courses in a desert , it doesn't  take a fortune teller to see what is coming.

Friday, November 15, 2019
  • Patrick B. Dillon
  • Jill Dillon
Dillon Law PC
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.
Dillon Law PC
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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