Only a Few Days Left to Register for the Census of Agriculture 2017!

If you are a new farmer or rancher, or have not been contacted by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), then you have until the end of June to register for the Census of Agriculture.

To qualify to be counted in the Census, you only need to have a place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products have been produced and sold, or would have been produced and sold under normal circumstances in a particular year (here 2017).

So, if you are a farmer or rancher, please make sure that you are counted for the Census!

At 177 years old, the Census of Agriculture tells the story of U.S. agriculture. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. The data are valuable to those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, even farmers and ranchers themselves. Census results help shape farm programs and boost services for communities and the industry. The Census of Agriculture is a farmer or rancher’s voice, future, and opportunity. For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540.



The Equal Justice Corps Heads to the Market!

The Equal Justice Corps is a joint venture between Legal Aid of Nebraska and Nebraskans for Civic Reform to provide college students with experiences in communities across Nebraska both promoting Legal Aid services and identifying the obstacles and challenges faced by communities in the state.

What follows is a guest post from an Equal Justice Corps member following a visit to a farmer’s market in Lincoln:

Here at Legal Aid of Nebraska it is our mission to make equal justice happen. While equal justice is unique to every individual, we aim to empower those in poverty and provide legal remedies to ensure that those low-income individuals maintain a sustainable lifestyle. One of the toughest hurdles to clear when overcoming poverty is access to healthy, reliable food sources. As defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, food deserts are parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. Frequent causes of food deserts are “a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.”

Despite being one of the United States’ leaders in agricultural production, there are large portions of Nebraska that lay within a food desert. Check out the USDA’s food desert tracker to see if you or anyone you know fall within one! Some of the more notable food deserts within the state fall in lower income neighborhoods of Lincoln and Omaha. In addition to the food shortages that occur within these neighborhoods, the food that is purchased is commonly cheap, and unhealthy. As a result, obesity rises and lifespan shortens. Therefore, in our effort to make equal justice happen, there are several ways to help remedy food deserts.

Our Equal Justice Corps has been travelling across the state attending farmers’ markets and other local events helping to spread the word about the threat of food deserts and other issues affecting low-income individuals. While attending farmers’ markets is not always possible, it is at farmers’ markets that low-income individuals can receive fresh produce and other goods, while at the same time supporting local farmers. At a recent stop at a local farmers’ market in Lincoln, our Equal Justice Corps counted over 150 stalls of locally made goods and products!

In addition to farmers’ markets, there are several other measures individuals and neighborhoods can take to combat food deserts.

  • Community Gardens are a great way to grow your own healthy, sustainable food sources. Get together with your neighbors and plant your own tomatoes, onions, basil, etc.! Not only is it a great way to help combat hunger and unhealthy foods, it is also a great way to establish relationships within your neighborhood and maintain a strong community!
  • Educating yourself, your children, your friends, and others within your community about healthy food choices is another way to make equal justice happen in regards to food deserts. If you and your community know what making healthy food choices look like, the incentive to shop in a healthy manner only rises. Host healthy dinner parties, share healthy recipes with your friends and neighbors, go to farmers’ markets with your family, and make healthy and reliable alternatives fun!
  • Speak to your local representatives about the threat of food deserts and how they affect you and your family. Let your voice be heard and make equal justice happen for you and your community!


If you have any questions about Legal Aid’s Farm and Food Project, please call (800) 742-7555.

Ogallala FREE Workshop- FSA Disaster & Loan Programs (including limited liability entities) and The Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program

You are welcome to attend a free workshop on Farm Service Agency livestock disaster programs, direct and guaranteed loan programs, and the Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program. There is no charge for the workshop.

June 29, 2017 at the Petrified Wood Gallery (418 E 1st St, Ogallala) from 1pm-3pm

To register (and for questions) call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

The workshop will provide an overview of livestock disaster programs (LFP, LIP and ELAP) administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and an overview of FSA loan programs (both direct and guaranteed operating and ownership loans, including those programs targeted at beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as the micro loan program and the recently expanded farm storage facility loan program). The workshop will also address some of the issues that arise under these programs when farm and ranches use limited liability entities as part of their business and/or succession planning. There will also be discussion of the benefits and requirements of the Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program (NextGen), including requirements for use of this program by family members. The workshop should be useful for established farm and ranch owners, for their successors, and for beginners. (This program is also being offered for CLE credits to bar members.)

 Joe Hawbaker, Agricultural Law attorney, with Hawbaker Law Office, Omaha

Amy Swoboda, Food and Farm Attorney with The Beginning Farmer Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska

This workshop is 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. 

New Funding to Help Deal With Erosion

New funding is available to help farmers control erosion from ephemeral gullies.

Recipients of USDA program benefits are required to control erosion on their lands that are determined to be highly erodible. Special funding from the Ephemeral Gully Control Initiative can help farmers fulfill that requirement.

With the adoption of modern equipment and herbicidal weed controls, grassed waterways have been on the decrease, which has led to an increase in erosion and ephemeral gully development. This increased erosion can negatively impact farmers by causing lower crop yields, but can also cause non-compliance with USDA requirements.

For more information, please visit NRCS in your local USDA Service Center and apply by July 21.



Good Fences, Pt. 2

Welcome back readers,

Today we finish up our piece about fence law with a few notes about maintaining an existing fence.

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

  • Maintaining an Existing Fence:
    • If there is an existing fence that needs repair, a neighbor can seek to compel repair, or contribution for repair, using the steps above.
    • Once a fence is built, the duty to maintain the fence is ongoing[1].
    • If you need to repair a fence, you may enter your neighbor’s land to make repairs, but only to the extent “reasonably necessary to construct, maintain, or repair the division fences”. Any alterations, such as removing trees, is not allowed[2].
      • Each neighbor has a duty to prevent any trees or other woody growth from damaging the fence, up to and including trimming and tree removal. If such growth damages the fence, the other neighbor may bring a private nuisance action to compel the neighbor to remove the tree or woody growth[3]
    • Keep in mind that if you have livestock that trespass, you are responsible for any damage done. However, if the damaged party has caused negligent or willful damage to their agreed-upon portion of the fence, and your animals trespassed through that breach, you may not be liable for any resulting damage[4].
    • Also keep in mind that fences do have an important evidentiary function in boundary disputes.


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


[1] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-112.

[2] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-112.01.

[3] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 34-103.

[4] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 54-401.