Farming, Ranching and Agriculture Law

Large farms, ranches, and processing facilities rely on us here at Beard St. Clair Gaffney to handle their agriculture and agribusiness needs. We represent a wide variety of both individuals and entities engaged in the production, processing, and marketing of agricultural commodities. Representative clients include growers, seed producers, chemical applicators, processors and packers, marketers, and Capper-Volstead cooperatives, as well as investors in such companies.

Attorney Lance J. Schuster regularly publishes 'Law of the Land', a column that appears in the Post Register's Farm and Ranch Section. These articles focus on agricultural legal issues. To view these articles, click here.

Drawing upon extensive experience both representing agribusiness clients and working inside the agricultural industry, our team handles:

  • Crop loss litigation
  • Antitrust matters
  • Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Claims
  • Right to farm / nuisance disputes
  • Personal injury claims related to farming accidents and/or chemical use

Our entity and transactional work in agribusiness includes:

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Financing
  • Securities
  • General entity governance
  • Formation of Capper-Volstead and state law compliant marketing cooperatives
  • Zoning and land use regulations
  • Environmental regulations
  • Tax and estate planning
  • Real estate transactions
  • Employment related claims

As agricultural businesses become larger or more specialized, they require more sophisticated and specialized legal advice on matters including business organization decisions, financing and incentive packages, tax issues, regulatory requirements, employment matters, and contracts for the production, processing, distribution, and marketing of agricultural commodities. Agribusiness owners and operators from the sole proprietor farm operator to major agribusiness enterprises can be confident that Beard St. Clair Gaffney can provide the necessary legal services for the creation, operation, and protection of the agriculture related enterprise.

The following is additional information on ag-related areas that we have experience in:

Fencing
Idaho law defines landowners' fencing obligations. We advise clients on fence laws, fence disputes, boundary issues and compliance with Idaho law. We know that good fences make for good neighbors.

Water Rights
Water rights are complex and governed by state law, federal law, and judicial decrees under the Snake River Basin Adjudication(SRBA). We have represented clients in the SRBA and have assisted clients with administrative water issues with the Idaho Department of Water Resources. Due diligence in the purchase of any farm or ranch property requires a review of decreed water rights. We have also represented irrigation companies and have litigated water right disputes. We know and understand how vital water is to the success of farming and ranching in Idaho.

Crop Loss
Some of the most complex litigation involves crop loss claims. We have successfully prosecuted crop loss claims on behalf of processors and growers. Litigation typically involves the retention of experts with the education, skills and expertise necessary to demonstrate a loss to a jury. We know how to find those experts and successfully bring a claim.  

Leases
In many instances the success of a farming operation depends upon the terms of the lease and the liability of the lessor or lessee. Our attorneys have experience with cash leases, crop-sharing arrangements, and innovative blended fee agreements. We can help you with a secure lease arrangement, whether you are a property owner or lessee of farm ground.

Right to Farm
Idaho's Right to Farm Act protects farmers and ranchers from nuisance actions. We can advise you on your rights and responsibilities under the Act. The Idaho Legislature expanded the protections of the Act in 2011 preventing cities or counties from passing ordinances that impinge on the protections found in the Right to Farm Act.

Ag Liens
Beard St. Clair Gaffney has extensive experience with agricultural liens, including agister's liens and liens allowed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).  PACA applies to any fresh fruits and vegetable placed into interstate commerce and requires that suppliers of such produce be paid-in-full.  Suppliers are entitled to a superpriority security interest in the proceeds of the sale of their produce. Beard St. Clair Gaffney has the expertise and experience to advise merchants, dealers, distributors, brokers or suppliers as to the details of the law.

Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act
Commonly referred to as PACA, PACA encourages fair trading practices in the marketing of fresh and frozen agricultural commodities in interstate and foreign commerce. It prohibits unfair and fraudulent practices and provides a means of enforcing contracts and protecting agricultural producers. Located in the heart of Idaho's potato country, Beard St. Clair Gaffney is intimately familiar with produce suppliers' need to protect themselves.

While PACA is a multi-facated regulatory law, one of its more prominent and potent aspects is its prohibition on unfair trade practices. Examples of unfair trade practices under PACA include failing to make full payment promptly for produce purchases, misbranding or mislabeling of produce, making false and misleading statements in connection with produce transactions, and employing individuals responsibly connected with PACA violations. We have been successfully involved in high profile cases involving misbranding and brand disparagment, as well as cases to recover full payment for produce purchases. 

Another important aspect of PACA is the PACA Trust which permits a seller of agricultural commodities to maintain a trust claim over the commodities themselves, inventories of products derived from the commodities, and receivables and proceeds from the commodities until such time as full payment is provided to the seller. Our attorneys have been successfully aggressive in representing growers and brokers in multiple jurisdictions by enforcing the PACA Trust and literally freezing the assets of buyers in order to obtain payment on agricultural commodities purchases.