Good Fences Can Make Good Neighbors


Welcome Back Readers,

This week, we are bringing you a couple posts for building a fence. (I apologize for the obvious terrible pun).

Under Nebraska law, adjoining property owners each have a responsibility to maintain fences between their respective properties[1]. There is no duty to erect a fence if both property owners decide not to have a fence. Because there is a statutorily imposed duty on each neighbor to maintain their “just proportion” of the fence, there are instances in which one neighbor may bring an action against the other neighbor.

As always, if you have specific legal questions, please seek out an attorney. This blog post is not a replacement for sound legal advice!

  • Building a New Fence:
    • If a landowner wants to erect a fence, and wants contribution from a neighbor, then the landowner must give written notice to the neighbor, requesting that they build half the fence, or pay for half the fence.
      • This notice must be given at some point before the fence is finished[2].
      • If there is no response to the notice, or the neighbor refuses the contribution request, then the landowner may file a fence dispute action in the county court where the land is located, after 7 days, but within one year of the written notice[3].
    • The neighbors, ideally, would then negotiate and agree about the cost and maintenance of the fence. But, if the neighbors negotiate, and are unable to reach an agreement about the equitable division of responsibility for the fence, then either neighbor may file a fence dispute action without the 7 day notice.
    • There is a fence dispute form that is available through the Clerk of the County Court.
    • After filing, the Clerk will also send out notices regarding mediation[4].
      • If both parties agree, the court may send the case to mediation.
        • Should the parties reach an agreement in mediation, the judge shall enter the agreement as its judgment.
      • If the parties do not agree to mediation, or do not reach an agreement in mediation, the case proceeds in County Court.
  • Minimum Requirements for a Fence:
    • Unless the neighbors agree otherwise, a fence shall be a wire fence[5].
      • Wire Fences must have:
        • At least four wires, of at least #9 size.
        • Secured to posts no more than one rod (16.5 ft.) apart, and also secured to a stake or another post in between those posts[6].
      • Any of the wires may be barbed wire. But if using barbed wire, each strand must be at least #12.5 gauge, and the barbs must be no more than 5 inches apart[7].
      • The fence itself must be at least 4.5 ft. tall, with no more than 12 inches in between wire strands[8].

*If another type of fence is desired, such as: rail, board, rail-and-post, pole-and-post, hog-and-sheep-tight, and other fences; the requirements may be found in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-115.

We will be back later this week with some tips about maintaining an existing fence.

“Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence.” – Carl Sandburg


[1] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-102.

[2] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-112.02(1).

[3] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-112.02(2).

[4] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-112.02(4).

[5] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-102(2).

[6] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-115(5).

[7] Id.

[8] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-116.

FSA Disaster and Loan Programs- Grand Island- FREE WORKSHOP

Date- Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Time- 10:00am- noon

Location– Hall County Extension Office, Grand Island

The workshop will cover Farm Service Agency livestock disaster programs, direct and guaranteed loan programs, and NextGen (Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program). It is intended to be useful for established farm and ranch owners, their successors, and for beginners.

To register or for questions, call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.
Topics include:
  • FSA livestock disaster programs
    • Livestock Forage Program (LFP)
    • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)
    • Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP)
  • FSA loan programs
    • both direct and guaranteed operating and ownership loans including those programs targeted at beginning farmers and ranchers\
    • micro loan program
    • the recently expanded farm storage facility loan program
  • Will address some issues that arise under these programs when farm and ranches use limited liability entities as part of their business and/or succession planning
  • Benefits and requirements of NextGen (Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program), including requirements for use by family members.
  • Joe Hawbaker, Agricultural Law Attorney, Hawbaker Law Office, Omaha
  • Amy Swoboda, Food & Farm Attorney, Beginning Farmer Project, Legal Aid of Nebraska
These workshops are made possible through the Nebraska Network for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers and the Beginning Farmer Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska under an outreach grant from the Farm Service Agency, USDA.

NOP Proposed New Rule on Organic Certification, Pt. 3

Happy Friday all! We close out this week with more on the NOP proposed new rules on Organic Certification. Today’s post deals with one of the biggest changes to the program – Avian living conditions – and a couple notes about transport and slaughter facilities. Again, the rule has been postponed to allow for a 30-day period for the public to comment on what action should be taken regarding the new rule. If you would like to comment on the course of action for the new rule, please visit:

The proposed final rule may be found in its entirety here:


Avian living condition rules have been changed as well. The requirement for birds to have indoor space has been removed, but shelter must still be provided. Should you choose to provide indoor space for your birds, then you must comply with the requirements for indoor space. Indoor space must be large enough so that the birds may engage in natural behaviors and move freely.

Ammonia must be monitored monthly. When ammonia levels exceed 10ppm, remediation and additional monitoring must take place. Ammonia levels are not allowed to exceed 25ppm.

Natural lighting in the indoor space must be sufficient so that an inspector is able to read and write on sunny days while any artificial lights are turned off. Artificial lights may be used to augment natural light up to a 16-hour period per day. Artificial lights must be lowered gradually to encourage birds to settle in for the night.

Space requirements are given a significant overhaul with this new rule. 6 inches of perch per laying bird is required, although the lighting rail may count towards this requirement. For indoor exits, the requirement was removed that all birds must be able to exit within one hour. The new indoor density requirements for layers must not exceed (live bird weight): (i) Mobile housing: 4.5 pounds per square foot; (ii) Aviary housing: 4.5 pounds per square foot; (iii) Slatted/mesh floor housing: 3.75 pounds per square foot; (iv) Floor litter housing: 3.0 pounds per square foot; (v) Other housing: 2.25 pounds per square foot. The indoor density for pullets must not exceed 3.0 pounds of bird per square foot. For broilers, indoor stocking density must not exceed 5.0 pounds of bird per square foot.

Outdoor space has also been given new density requirements. For layers, outdoor space must be provided at a rate of no less than one square foot for every 2.25 pounds of bird in the flock. For pullets, outdoor space must be provided at a rate of no less than one square foot for every 3.0 pounds of bird in the flock. For broilers, outdoor space must be provided at a rate of no less than one square foot for every 5.0 pounds of bird in the flock. The outdoor space must be at least 50% soil with “maximal vegetative cover”. As above, work with your certifier to ensure compliance with this requirement.

Temporary confinement for birds is also allowed in certain circumstances, such as inclement weather, certain stages of life, health and safety risks, reseeding of soil, sorting for shipping, and nest box training, among others. All temporary confinements must be recorded.


New guidelines about transport and slaughter have been established in the rule. Foremost is that organic animals must be identified as such during transport. Trailers must provide season-appropriate protection from heat and cold, and must have bedding provided for anything other than poultry crates. Organic feed and clean water must be provided every 12 hours during transport, regardless of whether the trailer is moving or not. Operations that transport organic livestock must also develop an emergency plan to address reasonably foreseeable issues during transport, such as feeding, escapees, and euthanization of injured animals during transport.

Organic certified slaughter facilities must be in compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978. Certified facilities must also provide any documentation of FSIS noncompliance and corrective action records to certifying agents upon request.


“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” – Augustine “Og” Mandino

NOP New Proposed Rules Regarding Organic Certification, Pt. 2

Welcome back,

Yesterday we introduced some of the new changes that are being proposed to the organic certification requirements of the NOP. As of yesterday (5/10/17), there was a new 30-day comment window opened to take suggestions regarding the implementation of the rules.

If you would like to comment on the course of action for the new rule, please visit:

The final rule may be found here:

Today’s post discusses some highlights of the proposed changes to mammal living conditions.


Mammalian living condition rules are now separated from avian living condition rules. The rule requiring all ruminants to be able to feed simultaneously has been removed. The rule regarding livestock shelter has been revised so that livestock in shelter must be able to express normal patterns of behavior over a 24-hour period. Mammals may be contained during parts of the day for milking, etc., but must be able to move, turn, and stretch their limbs for at least part of the day.

New provisions for group housing are also included. For dairy stock, individual housing is allowed until weaning, but no longer than 6 months. Dairy young must also have room to lie down, move around, and see other animals. Swine may be individually housed in three circumstances: 1) sows may be housed individually during farrowing and suckling; 2) boars can be separated to reduce the likelihood of fights and injuries; 3) swine may be separated to recover from a documented illness, or after multiple instances of aggression. Flat decking of piglets is now prohibited. A requirement has also been added to mandate indoor and outdoor areas for rooting.

Outdoor access is now required year-round for livestock, except in cases where temporary confinement is justified, for example: nighttime confinement to protect against predators, natural or artificial breeding, or youth livestock projects, etc.. If the outdoor area contains soil, there must be maximal vegetative cover. The rule does not give clear guidance as to what “maximal vegetative cover” means in practice, so we recommend that you work closely with your certifier to ensure you are in compliance.

Good luck out there in the fields!

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

NOP New Proposed Rule on Organic Certification

For certified organic producers and those who are seeking to become organic certified, there is a new final rule coming down the pipeline that will likely affect your operations. Among the changes are new rules regarding animal welfare, living conditions centered on outdoor access for both poultry and mammals, as well as transport and slaughter. As of May 10, 2017, the rule has been postponed to allow for a 30-day period for the public to comment on what action should be taken regarding the new rule. If you would like to comment on the course of action for the new rule, please visit:

If you believe that you may be affected by this new final rule, please take a look at the rule itself. Also, if your certifier has not reached out to you, make sure you contact them to discuss in detail all the proposed changes required for your specific operation. The final rule may be found here: Following is not a comprehensive list of changes, but some key highlights of the new rule.

The first set of major changes has to do with the definitions of certain terms. Notably, any areas that are roofed, but allow the animals to freely move from cover to the outside, may now be counted as ‘outdoor space’. The final rule will now prohibit some types of physical alterations to livestock. Therefore, eight terms have been defined in the rule to account for any local differences in the naming of certain alterations. The definition of stocking density has also been changed to be expressed in terms of pounds of bird per square foot, instead of individual birds per square foot.

Livestock Healthcare practices also see some significant changes as well. Needle teeth clipping and tail docking in pigs may no longer be performed routinely, under the new rule they may only be performed in response to a documented welfare reason, and other alternatives must have failed. For poultry, the new rule prohibits the following practices: de-beaking, de-snooding, caponization, dubbing, toe-clipping of chickens, toe-clipping of turkeys (unless with infra-red at hatchery), and beak clipping after 10 days of age. Forced molting has also been prohibited.