On February 19, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments regarding “Whether the CWA [Clean Water Act] requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater” following a circuit split between the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Read more about this case history and the legal arguments on the Emerging Energy Insights blog:

CWA Series: SCOTUS Agrees to Grant Certiorari on Indirect Discharge Question

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Seminar

Join our Dr. Laura Labeots and a panel of other speakers on March 14, 2019 for a collaborative discussion regarding intellectual property for agriculture and plants. The CLE seminar is complimentary for members AND non-members of the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago.

Speakers will include:

  • Audrey Charles, Patent Agent and Trademark Administrator Ball Horticultural Company
  • Dr. Diana Horvath, President, 2Blades Foundation
  • Dr. Laura Labeots, Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP

Register here.

NewAgDay_OriginalAs we celebrate National Ag Day, the lawyers and staff at Husch Blackwell are proud to serve our clients whose innovation, dedication and enthusiasm continue to make the U.S. agriculture industry a standard bearer for productivity and technological advancement. From food safety and labeling to sustainable ag practices, our Food & Agribusiness industry group has evolved with the industry itself to provide cutting-edge legal counsel in the very areas that will define the future of agriculture.

We congratulate all those in the ag industry – from family farmers to corporate leaders – whose hard work and tirelessness continue to motivate our own efforts, and we look forward to another year of advising our ag clients on their toughest legal challenges, so they can focus on the vital work of bringing to market products that the rest of us so direly depend upon.

Happy National Ag Day!

This week, Kansas City was host to the 3rd Annual 2015 AgCatalyst conference, bringing together the brightest minds in social media, marketing, agriculture and food production in the agribusiness space. Conversations and panel discussions focused on defining digital marketing and how it applies to agribusiness, how to develop skills and tools useful in agribusiness marketing and demonstrating ways to deploy digital strategies via tools and case studies of current successful implementations within the food & ag industry.

Speakers included branding and media strategists from Monsanto, Fresh Air Farmer, AdFarm, AgTech, Farm Media Journal and Caterpillar, among several others. The overriding theme was ADVOCATING FOR AGRICULTURE and doing something different every day to make a difference in agriculture.

The two day conference closed with an emotional and entertaining discussion led by Greg Peterson, of the Peterson Farm Bros from Assaria, Kansas. Greg and his siblings farm with their parents and produce educational and entertaining videos on their YouTube channel. They began producing these videos after realizing there was a need to inform people about what they do in farming and in agriculture as a whole. There are many misconceptions about modern day farmers, and they feel it is their calling to help correct some of those misconceptions. Aside from their production on social media, they travel around the world to advocate for agriculture, blog about misunderstood topics and open their farm for tours. You can view a few examples of their entertaining videos here and here.

Next year’s AgCatalyst event will take place in Minneapolis, MN.

*Panels members pictured above from left to right: Shaun Haney, Founder of RealAgriculture.com, Lindsay Sankey, Blogger of Jean’s Boots are Made for Talking, Jodi Oleen, Director of Consumer Outreach for Kansas Pork Association and Rosie Templeton, Public Relations Specialist for AdFarm.

In June, the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University (“K-State”) released the results of its semi-annual survey of agricultural lenders. K-State began conducting the survey in 2013 to provide farmers insight into agricultural credit conditions from lenders’ perspective. The survey focuses on five main areas: farm loan interest rates, spread over cost of funds, farm loan volumes, non-performing loan volumes, and agricultural land values.

Consistent with the fall 2014 survey, lenders are concerned about the production farming sector because of lower grain and oilseed prices, increased operating costs, and lower farmland values. These concerns were reflected in the survey results—35% of respondents reported farmland values declined during January through March of 2015 and more than half of respondents expect further declines in the short term (next year) and long term (next 2-5 years). Allen Featherstone, professor and department head of the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics, noted, “Producers are going to encounter cautious lenders. Farmers will have to be well-prepared and document plans going forward to continue to access credit at good rates.”

However, despite these concerns, the survey results indicate a stronger market for agricultural loan availability. More than half of respondents reported increases in total farm loan volume over the past three months. Further, 68% of respondents expect increased loan volume in the short term, which reflects an increase from the fall 2014 survey in which 56% of respondents expected higher volumes. In the long term, 70% of respondents expect higher loan volume.

In conjunction with higher loan volume, the majority of respondents also expect higher interest rates. In the short term, approximately 60% of respondents expect higher interest rates, with the percentage increasing to more than 90% for long-term forecasts. Respondents, however, provided the most varied responses in the survey when forecasting the spread over cost of funds. K-State noted, the spread over cost of funds can be used to gauge the competition in the lending market, with lower spreads reflecting increased competition. Some of the variation in the forecasts may be because of uncertainty about competition in the agricultural lending sector, coupled with uncertainty about when interest rates will increase.

Finally, for the first time, K-State also analyzed the accuracy of respondents’ expectations by comparing what respondents reported for the past three months against the short-term expectations from the prior year’s survey. For example, short-term expectations from the spring 2014 survey were compared against what respondents reported for the past three months in the spring 2015 survey. Respondents’ expectations for loan volume and the number of non-performing loans were fairly accurate. However, respondents generally tended to be too optimistic, particularly with respect to real estate farm loans.

To see a copy of the K-State Agricultural Lender Survey, please visit the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics website, or click on this link.

On Friday, February 7th, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642), widely referred to as the 2014 Farm Bill, a comprehensive five-year farm policy package for agricultural and food assistance programs. The U.S. House of Representatives passed this legislation on January 29, 2014 by a vote of 251 to 166. The U.S. Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 68 to 32 on February 4, 2014. The legislation will cost an estimated $956 billion over 10 years, a savings of about $16.6 billion compared with current funding, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This is the first time that Congress has approved a new farm bill since 2008, and follows three years of short-term authorizations and disagreements between the House and the Senate.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 includes the most significant reduction to farm policy spending in history by reforming particular agricultural programs.

  • Repeals direct payments and limits producers to risk management tools that offer protection when they suffer significant losses.
  • Reduces limits on payments, tightens eligibility rules, and streamlines means tests to make farm programs more accountable.
  • Strengthens crop insurance, a successful public-private partnership that helps farmers manage risk and protect themselves against losses.
  • Provides historic reforms to dairy policy by repealing outdated and ineffective dairy programs. Offers producers a new, voluntary, margin protection program without imposing government-mandated supply controls.
  • Supports small businesses and beginning farmers and ranchers with training and access to capital.

Continue Reading President Signs Long-Awaited Farm Bill