Nebraska Agri-Tourism Limitation of Liability

Nebraska recently passed LB329, providing a bevy of benefits for those individuals involved with agri-tourism.  The bill exempts property owners from lawsuits for injury or death caused by an “inherent risk” on the property.  An inherent risk includes conditions, dangers, or hazards that are an integral part of the land or waters used for agri-tourism, the behavior of wild or domestic animals, the ordinary dangers of structures or equipment on the site, or the negligence of a paying participant.

The exemption does not apply if the property owner is negligent.  Additionally, the property must display signs with the exemption.

Covered activities at working farms and ranches include hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, water sports, camping, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, bicycling, horseback riding, nature study, birding, farm ranch and vineyard tours and activities, harvest-your-own activities, water skiing, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, visiting and viewing historical, ecological, archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites, and similar activities.

LB329 is an interesting step towards limitation of liability for those interested in starting or expanding their agri-tourism operation.  If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact us — we’re happy to help!


Joint Tenancy versus Tenancy in Common

After some confusing conversations lately with clients, today’s blog post is about Joint Tenancy & Tenancy in Common.  This post is a summary of the larger linked article.

In Nebraska, there are essentially two ways to own property with someone: joint tenancy or tenancy in common.  What is the difference between joint tenancy and tenancy in common?

Joint Tenancy:

Joint tenancy’s defining feature is called the right to survivorship.  Right to survivorship, or survivorship for short, allows the “last person standing” to “get it all”.  This is most common when spouses jointly own property.  Thus, when the first spouse passes, the surviving spouse inherits title to the property.  At the time of death, nothing is required to transfer the property to the surviving spouse.  However, as the surviving spouse will own the entire property, the surviving spouse will determine who inherits the property at his or her death.

Tenancy in Common:

Tenancy in common, in contrast to joint tenancy, is when two or more people own an undivided interest in property.  For example, a brother and sister inherit a parcel of land, which they must “share and share alike”.  This means the brother and sister each own a 50% undivided interest in the parcel.  At the time of death of each sibling, that sibling may pass on their 50% share to their heirs.  Thus, the brother may pass on his share to his daughter, and the parcel would then be owned by the sister and brother’s daughter.  Tenancy in common is criticized as it can result in fractionalization of ownership.

If you are in a situation where you are unclear as to the type of ownership, please feel free to give us a call. We’re always happy to help!


New Commodities Added to Farm Storage and Facility Loan Program

We’ve previously discussed the Farm Storage Facility Loan program, with the recent additions of cold storage facilities for fruits and vegetables.  However, the USDA announced yesterday additional commodities will be covered under FSFL.  The new commodities are:

  • Aquaculture (excluding systems that maintain live animals through uptake and discharge of water)
  • Floriculture
  • Hops
  • Milk
  • Rye
  • Meat and poultry (unprocessed)
  • Eggs
  • Cheese, butter, and yogurt

The expansion of FSFL, especially for meat and dairy, is likely welcome news for small and niche producers.  We’re happy to help in any way if you have questions about the program, or any FSA program — feel free to contact us!

Upcoming Events About Local Food Production

This is short notice (sorry!) but there are two upcoming events that may be interest.

First, a SARE sponsored Local Food and Sustainable Ag Tour is scheduled for Tuesday, August 18 with five stops.  The tour, which begins at 8:30, will start at Jones Produce, located southwest of Lincoln.  Next, the tour stops at Ficke Cattle Company, near Pleasant Dale.  Lunch will be served at Ficke Cattle Company and then the tour proceeds to Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in Denton.  After viewing the tallgrass prairie reserve, the tour moves a few miles down the road to Shadowbrook Farm and their Dutch Girl Creamery.  The final stop is Hawley Hamlet, an urban garden located in the heart of Lincoln.  The cost of the tour is $25, which includes transportation and lunch.  If you are interested in the tour, contact Gary Lesoing at

Second, this Friday, August 14, the USDA Nebraska Food and Agriculture Council is hosting a one-day seminar titled ‘Local Foods for Local Tables’ at the Omaha Home for Boys and Cooper Farm.  The seminar begins at 9:30 with an address by U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford and then has a variety of information and panels with a wealth of information.  Whether gardening is your hobby or you’re an established agricultural operation, a community leader, a small business venture, or part of a non-profit organization, the “Local Food for Local Tables” conference on Aug. 14 will offer you access to a wide array of experts in the field! There will be time to visit local agriculture organizations’ booths, a chance to eat, and an interactive tour of the farm.  Register by contacting the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) by phone at 402-437-5581 or contacting Gina Germer by email at or Sarah Heidzig-Kraeger by email at

September 1st and your leases

An oldie but goodie post as Nebraska farmers approach September 1st:

There is evidence that in Nebraska, most farm leases are oral year-to-year leases.  This is important because Nebraska law governs how to terminate such leases and September 1 is a critical day should a landowner wish to terminate an oral lease.

First, the law:

The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that a farm lease begins on March 1 for oral year-to-year leases.  To terminate an oral year-to-year lease, however, the Court has ruled that six months notice must be given prior to March 1.  In other words, to terminate an oral year-to-year lease, a notice to quit must be received by the tenant prior to September 1 of the preceding year.

Second, some examples:

Example 1:

The landowner as an oral year-to-year tenant.  Landowner decides she wants to terminate her lease with Tenant because she wants her nephew to rent the land beginning March 1, 2014. Landowner sends a letter to Tenant and Tenant receives it October 30, 2013.  Is the lease terminated so the nephew may rent it on March 1, 2014?

No, the lease is not terminated because an oral year-to-year lease requires a tenant to receive notice by September 1, 2013.  Here, Tenant received noticed from Landowner on October 30, 2013.  This means that Tenant may lease the farm land until August 31, 2014.

Example 2:

Same facts as above except now, Landowner sends a notice to quit to Tenant, which Tenant receives on August 30, 2013.  Is this lease terminated so the nephew may rent it on March 1, 2014?

Yes, the lease will terminate as of February 28, 2014.  Keep in mind the lease between Landowner and Tenant continues through February 28, 2014 but the Tenant has received a proper six months notice of termination, which is required under Nebraska law.

Third, some gotchas:

The above represent the default rules in Nebraska for termination of unwritten year-to-year leases.  The landowner and tenant can come to a mutual, voluntary agreement to modify the default rules.  Thus, if both the landowner and tenant agree, an unwritten year-to-year lease may end in June with 30 days notice.  The key is that there must be a mutual, voluntary agreement to do so.

If a landowner is terminating an unwritten year-to-year lease, it is advisable to do so with a letter and not in-person.  Additionally, it is best to send the notice to quit with time to spare from the September 1 deadline, as the tenant must receive the notice by September 1; it is not relevant when the landlord sends the notice.

Moreover, the above rules do not apply to written leases.  To terminate a written lease, the landowner and tenant must merely review what the lease states about termination and follow the lease provisions.

If you need clarification or just want to ask about dates and deadlines, you are welcome to contact us.  We’re happy to help Nebraska and South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers (both landowner and tenant!).

FarmHer and Women Farmers

An interesting article in Quartz highlights an interesting new project, FarmHer, which is a photography project aiming to show the day-to-day experience of women farmers.  The website is amazing and documents the varied farming experience(s) of women as farmers, landowners, mentors, and more.

But the article also included information that I found surprising.  From the article:

In 2012, there were 2% fewer female farmers than in 2007. Plus, while 14% of the country’s 2.1 million farms had women as principal operators, that accounted for only 6.9% of American farmland, and sales by women made up only 3.3% of total US agricultural sales.

Projects like FarmHer certainly help increase the visibility of women farmers, operators, and those involved in agriculture.  But programs like this one are also available to assist women farmers, be it through offering workshops on business planning, one-on-one assistance on available resources and programs to start or expand an operation, advice on governing rules and regulations, or even providing legal assistance in creating and executing the necessary paperwork to establish a business entity.  If it is a legal question from a beginning farmer, we will assist if at all possible.

We’re always happy to help — our goal and mission is to assist any and all beginning farmers in Nebraska, South Dakota, and the greater Plains.


Direct Marketing and Accepting SNAP Benefits

An increasing number of SNAP recipients are spending their benefits are farmers markets, roadside stands, and directly from farmers.  In fiscal year 2014, SNAP benefits used at farmers markets and the like totaled $18.8 million, a nearly six-fold increase since 2008.  In fact, the total number of SNAP-authorized vendors has increased from 753 to over 6,400 across all fifty states.

The trend is showing up in Nebraska.  Nebraska farmers saw about $25,000 in revenue through food-stamp spending in the year ending Sept. 30, 2014, plus $194,000 through a senior food voucher program and $37,000 more through a voucher program for low-income women with children.  In fact, there are over fifty Nebraska farmers who accept SNAP benefits, an increase from one farmer in 2008.

If you are a direct market or small, niche operation, accepting SNAP benefits may be an avenue worth exploring to diversify your income stream.  The Farmers Market Promotion Program is a federally-funded grant program to assist producers in accepting SNAP benefits.

We’re always happy to help those interested in accepting SNAP benefits for their farm.  Feel free to contact us!