Your grandfather has been overseeing the 10-acre farmland in Noblesville, which is some 36 miles northeast of Greenwood, Indiana. You visit as much as you can, but college life and finishing your law degree are taking a front seat in your life right now. The last time you visited, your grandfather told you how he’s been having some problems with the lawyers that he hired to help manage the estate.
He looked downtrodden and lacking the energy to fight the fight. The government is claiming the property, and he’s not been happy with the legal representation.
You love your grandfather dearly, and you promised that you would help. And right after you get your law degree, you promised that you would personally handle all his legal affairs about his agricultural property. You hadn’t planned this, but suddenly, it makes sense. Why not focus on a legal career in agrarian law? What do you need to know?
An Overview of Agricultural Law
Agricultural law pertains to laws that regulate the business practice of farming, ranching, or other agricultural activities. Zoning is a critical element of the governing laws. The use of pesticides is another.
These agricultural laws are applied to the industry as a whole, whether the farmland is family-owned, or owned by big food conglomerates. The two government agencies with the most significant stake in governing agriculture are the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Knowing the Practice
Some farmland raises cattle and farm vegetables. Others grow crops like corn or wheat. There is not a single face when it comes to farming. The field is diverse. Here are a few more things that you need to know.
- Best universities. The top universities for a program in agricultural law are Vermont Law School, Michigan State University, and the University of Arkansas. You don’t need to transfer. Just inquire about their programs and what they are teaching. Maybe you could enroll at another time on selected courses.
- Diverse Issues. You might need to sit down for a more extended conversation with your grandfather to find out what the issues are. There are various ways to manage a farm, so the problems confronted by farmers are also distinct from one another. The lease contract for a cattle farm will be different from a contract with a vegetable farm. The zoning restrictions will also be different if your farms produce manure from animals.
- They need help. There weren’t any environmental laws or laws about the use of water. But with climate change and the negative press on how big agricultural firms are contributing to the destruction of the planet, due to unsustainable business practices, even small farmers are taking a hit. They need help in understanding the situation and all the legal jargon.
- Overlaps. While agricultural law is a distinct practice, there are significant overlaps with other fields. For example, agrarian law is also about estate planning/succession planning, food safety, and food labeling, contracts, or criminal law. You would need to be experts in these fields as well to give proper guidance to your grandfather
What will give your grandfather comfort is that you will now be the one helping him. And you don’t even need to be in Noblesville to do the work. Recent advancement in technology allows for easier communication to complete a transaction. If required, you can always take the 45-minute drive to hug your grandfather, among other things.