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

USDA Allows for Emergency Grazing and Haying in Drought-stricken Areas

On July 20, 2017, the USDA authorized the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program lands for emergency haying and grazing in drought-stricken areas in Montana and the Dakotas that have reached D2, or severe drought level or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

This also includes counties with any part of their border that is within 150 miles of authorized counties in the three states may also be eligible for emergency grazing. This includes areas in Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa.

All emergency grazing must end by September 30, while all emergency haying must end by August 31. Any landowners who are interested should contact their local Farm Service Agency office and meet their local Natural Resources Conservations Service staff to get a modified conservation plan in place.

 

For more information, please visit: www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze

To view the press release, please visit: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Nebraska/news-releases/2017/stnr_ne_20170720_rel_06

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 www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.

 

Source: https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Newsroom/2017/06_22_2017.php

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.

 

Source: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ne/newsroom/releases/?cid=NRCSEPRD1334028

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.

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.
Presenters
  • 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: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/10/2017-09410/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices-second-proposed-rule

The proposed final rule may be found in its entirety here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-00888/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices.

AVIAN LIVING CONDITIONS

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.

TRANSPORT AND SLAUGHTER

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: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/10/2017-09410/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices-second-proposed-rule

The final rule may be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-00888/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices

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

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