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I recently attended a workshop for Iowa Ag lawyers and the Drake Law center as we consider the massive change in land holding that is coming for the state in the years ahead.  Between a large chunk of the acres being held by those over 65, advances in technology making less farmers required to operate the farmland(206,000 in 1950 compared to 88,647 currently in Iowa), and the intertwining emotional, family issues with business issues the task is monumental.

A couple of great thoughts came out of that workshop and I hope it is followed up with some solid training and guidance for our state’s advisers and decision makers. What was disappointing is that the large majority of farm operators have talked to NO ONE about their decision to retire (that is to withdraw all management and capital and labor) from an operation and of those that did talk to some one, only 19% mentioned it to an attorney prior to taking actions.

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.


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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021
  • 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 is a University of Northern Iowa undergraduate (Political Science Cum Laude) and a Drake University Law School graduate. Jill is the assistant Fayette County Prosecutor and a certified family law mediator. Jill still has ties to her family farm operation which includes a dairy herd. Jill Dillon focuses on bankruptcy, adoptions, and mediations.

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