December Workshop and Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

These FREE farm and ranch clinics are being held in:

December Clinic dates:

Grand Island – Thursday, December 7th

North Platte – Thursday, December 14th

Norfolk – Friday, December 15th

Lexington – Thursday, December 21st

FREE December workshops covering Ag leases, liens and loans:

Davenport – Wednesday, Dec 13th – Davenport Community Center, South Room – 110 S Linden Ave

Holdrege – Thursday, Dec 14th – Phelps County Ag Center – Education Room – 1308 2nd Ave

What the workshop is about? 

Liens (Hawbaker) – Nebraska’s statutory agricultural liens, from the producer’s perspective:  What are they?  How do they work? These are liens that give creditors rights in certain property, such as crops, feed and livestock, to secure payment of obligations for goods or services, such as seed, fertilizer, ag chemicals, petroleum products, veterinary assistance, cattle care, harvest work and machine repair.  The discussion will focus on identifying the liens and understanding how they work from the producer’s perspective.

Loans (Goeller) – The presentation will provide producers with an inside look at “What your lender is looking for.”  The impact of Collateral, Cash Flow, Credit Score, Character and Trends on loan applications.  A brief overview of Balance Sheets, Trend Sheets and Ratio Analysis will also be included.

Leases (Vyhnalek) – The importance of lease communications between the landlord and tenant and useful lease provisions will be discussed, along with highlights of current lease rates and trends in Nebraska.

Beneficial Use of Your Water Right

This is the second part in a series focusing on water law in Nebraska. The first covered what constitutes a water right in Nebraska. A water right is a permissive right to use the water, not a property right to the water itself. This next section will focus on the provision of what constitutes a beneficial use of water in Nebraska.

As outlined in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 46-229, “Any appropriation of water must be for a beneficial use.” This takes a little work to parse out the exact definition of beneficial use. To figure out what this requirement specifies, case law is the guiding source as to what constitutes beneficial use. The case that outlines a beneficial use is Hostetler v. State, 203 Neb. 776, 280 N.W.2d 75 (1979). In this case the landowners (the Hostetlers) inherited a piece of land which included a water right to irrigate a pasture. The previous owner told the Hostetlers that the water right had been previously lost because of lack of use. After conversations with the Department of Water Resource’s engineer, the Hostetlers were notified that there was no actual cancellation of the appropriation. After this, the Hostetlers built a temporary diversion dam. The dam was used only once to see if water would flow in the canal. After this diversion, Mr. Hostetler did not divert any additional water nor did he irrigate any section of the land, although he did water some cattle via this canal. Later on, the Department gave the landowners notice to cancel their water right based on the non-use of the water appropriation for more than three years. The Hostetlers challenged the cancellation of the water right, arguing that the diversion did in fact constitute a beneficial use.

The court disagreed with the Hostetlers’ argument, holding that “to constitute a beneficial use within the meaning of the appropriation statute, the use must be one described in the appropriation,” which was irrigating the land. In this specific case, the Hostetlers did not use the water for the purpose of one described in the appropriation. They instead only diverted a small amount, which was used to water cattle, which did not constitute a use described in this appropriation. Ultimately the court ruled that “in the case of an appropriation for irrigation purposes, actual application of the water to the land for the purpose of irrigation” is what constitutes a beneficial use.

Now, this case did outline a few excuses for beneficial use. These include the lack of water in the diversion source or, on the other hand, too much rainfall or moisture so that the diversion of water would result in waste of the resource. Ultimately, the beneficial use requirement would be excused if the appropriation purpose could not be met due to natural occurrences such as drought or normal-to-excessive rainfall.

The takeaways from this handout is that water appropriated under Nebraska law must be used for a beneficial use. The beneficial use must fit within the purpose of the original appropriation. So if the purpose of the water right was for irrigation, the water must be used for irrigation or be in danger of being cancelled if not used within a three year timeframe. There are excuses for such non-use, such as too much water to the point that diversion of water for irrigation purposes would go against good farming practices, or that there was too little water in the stream to divert.

If you have any questions regarding water use and your land, please contact us. As mentioned this is part of a series, so please come back often to learn about water law in Nebraska and important terms and issues regarding water and agriculture.

NEW Features Page from the Nebraska Department of Ag

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) created a new Feature pages wherein you will find stories of the people, the products and the programs that contribute to the success of Nebraska’s agriculture industry.  The latest NDA Feature profiles the Godbersen family of Wisner with focus on the NextGen program.  The article is available on the NDA website and you may elect to subscribe to receive an email each time a new article is posted.

Enjoy learning about the families that make Nebraska Agriculture happen!

Agricultural Liens, Loans and Leases- Free Workshop

You are welcome to attend a free workshop on Ag Liens, Loans, and Leases.   The workshops will be held in Davenport, (December 13, 2017) at the Community Center and Holdrege, (December 14, 2017) at the Phelps Co Ag Center.  With a lunch provided at both.  The workshops will run from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm.  There is no charge for the workshop.  To register (and for questions) call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

What the workshop is about?  Liens (Hawbaker) – Nebraska’s statutory agricultural liens, from the producer’s perspective:  What are they?  How do they work? These are liens that give creditors rights in certain property, such as crops, feed and livestock, to secure payment of obligations for goods or services, such as seed, fertilizer, ag chemicals, petroleum products, veterinary assistance, cattle care, harvest work and machine repair.  The discussion will focus on identifying the liens and understanding how they work from the producer’s perspective.

Loans (Goeller) – The presentation will provide producers with an inside look at “What your lender is looking for.”  The impact of Collateral, Cash Flow, Credit Score, Character and Trends on loan applications.  A brief overview of Balance Sheets, Trend Sheets and Ratio Analysis will also be included.

Leases (Vyhnalek) – The importance of lease communications between the landlord and tenant and useful lease provisions will be discussed, along with highlights of current lease rates and trends in Nebraska.

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

Dave Goeller, Agricultural Finance and Transition Specialist

Alan Vyhnalek, UNL Ag Economics, Extension Educator for Farm/Ranch Succession

These workshops are  made possible by the Nebraska Network for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers, the Farm and Ranch Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska, North Central Risk Management Education, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation, Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Next Gen, UNL Extension Thayer & Phelps Co.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act H.R. 4316

On November 8, 2017, Representatives Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), introduced The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R. 4316). This legislation supports the next generation of farmers and ranchers through changes to pertinent programs and issues including credit, technical skill development, crop insurance, and conservation. The farm and ranch community is aging; the average national age of a farmer is 58.  Millions of agricultural land acres will be changing hands in the next decade. This legislation focuses on breaking down some of those barriers that keep beginning farmers and ranchers from succeeding. For example, limitations on the number of acres enrolled in the Conservation Resources Program (CRP) will be removed, along with increasing the flexibility of CRP landowners to contract with socially disadvantage or veteran farmers in the last 3 years of their CRP contract. Additionally, this legislation prioritizes skill development for beginning farmers and ranchers by supporting service providers in their states to increase training and information gathering. Limits on lending by FSA for Direct Farm Ownership Loan will be increased to $500,000 to help purchase a farm or ranch. To learn more about The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, please visit this Sectional Outline or the Full Text of the legislation.

Farm transition and succession is the main focus of Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. We work daily with established farmers and ranchers on transitioning their farm. Additionally, we work closely with beginning farmers and ranchers with their legal needs, along with financial guidance, to ensure their enterprises are sustainable and successful. If you have any questions about farm and ranch transitions please call the Rural Response Hotline 1-800-464-0258.

November Clinic Dates

workshopsFarmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

These FREE farm and ranch clinics are being held in:

Grand Island – Thursday, Nov 2nd

Norfolk – Thursday, November 9th

Valentine – Friday, November 10th

Fairbury – Friday, November 17th

Norfolk – Thursday, November 30th

To sign up for a clinic or for more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline:  1-800-464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor the farm finance clinics.

Farm mediation

October Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

October Clinic dates and locations:

Valentine – Wednesday, October 11th

Norfolk – Thursday, October 12th

Fairbury – Thursday, October 26th

Norfolk – Tuesday, October 31st

To register, please call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

September Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

These FREE farm and ranch clinics are being held in:

September Clinic dates:

Valentine – Friday, September, 1st

Norfolk – Wednesday, September, 6th

Grand Island – Tuesday, September, 19th

North Platte – Wednesday, September 20th

Norfolk – Tuesday, September 26th

Fairbury – Tuesday, September 26th

To sign up for a clinic or for more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline:  1-800-464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor the farm finance clinics.

August Clinic Dates- Financial & Estate Planning, Beginning Farmer Programs, Debtor/Creditor Law, Water Rights and Much More…

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

August Clinic Dates and Locations:

North Platte – Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fairbury – Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lexington – Thursday, August 17, 2017

Norfolk – Thursday, August 24, 2017

Valentine – Friday, September 1, 2017

To register for a FREE clinic or to receive more information about our services, call Michelle and the Rural Response Hotline: 1-800-464-0258.

These clinics are sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Legal Aid of Nebraska      Farm mediation

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.