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The Doctrine of Title by Acquiescence: Losing Land by Agreement or Consent.

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            Rarely does a person agree or consent to lose part of their land.However, such can happen in cases where a fence between neighbors turns out to not be on the legal boundary line.The norm is that a fence between neighbors is erected on the legal boundary line between the two adjacent properties.However, sometimes landowners have a mistaken belief that the fence marks the legal boundary line between two properties when it actually does not.Other times the adjacent landowners agree to treat an existing fence not on the legally boundary line as the legal boundary line.No matter the various circumstances, a fence that is believed to mark the legal boundary line, and turns out to not be the case, usually leads to a dispute at some point.
How does the law generally treat these instances where an individual is acquiescent to a boundary fence not being on the legal boundary line?Enter the Doctrine of Title by Acquiescence.Essentially, this doctrine determines the legal boundary lin…

The Chapter 12 “Cramdown”: Leveling the Lender's Playing Field.

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This past week Congress was actually able to agree on something and the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 was passed.  The Act serves to raise the current debt limit for Chapter 12 from 4.2 million to 10 million.  Some have bemoaned this as only helping “big farms’, whatever that is, but in an era where a combine can approach a half million dollars, many smaller or medium sized farms found themselves up against the previous debt limit.   Without the ability to utilize Chapter 12, instead of restructuring, the famer is generally liquidating.             In helping many farm clients over the past year who have been experiencing financial difficulties, I am simply amazed at the inability of some lending institutions to work with the farmer who is experiencing financial difficulties.  Don’t get me wrong, some lenders have been very good to work with and are open to forbearance agreements, debt reconstruction, and other measures that keep the farmer able to continue on.  On the flip side, s…

Heed the canary in your farm’s financial coal mine

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(Authors Note:This article will be a multi part series that discusses some of the challenges we are seeing due to the current farm economy and offers some thoughts and suggestions on action that can be taken.) Most of us know where the saying “canary in the coal mine” comes from.Basically, canaries were used in mines from the late 1800s to detect gases, such as carbon monoxide. The gas is deadly to humans – and canaries alike – in large quantities, but canaries are much more sensitive to small amounts of the gas, and so will react more quickly than humans. I always envisioned that a miner would stick a canary in a bird cage down in the mine, and if they saw the canary drop over dead, then it was time to get out.Boy was I wrong.A device was actually invented (see above picture) that had a circular door that would be kept open and had a grill to prevent the canary escaping. Once the canary showed signs of carbon monoxide poisoning the door would be closed and a valve opened, allowing oxyg…

Observations on Ways to Make Farm Profitable for the Next Generation

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In last month’s article we discussed whether or not the next generation can afford to take over the farming operation.I received a lot of feedback on the article and one response stuck with me.The question was posed, if the farm is not making ends meet now, how can it then be profitable to the next generation, especially being profitable enough for to bring in the next generation? It was a very good question and had me thinking on a response for quite some time.I will first lay out a disclaimer (we attorneys are good at doing such) and say that I am not a farm economist.Nor am I versed in financial advising.In addition, not every farm is going to be helped by what I write in this article, nor is what I write about a good fit for everyone.I am merely going of off 14 years of law experience and having worked with hundreds and hundreds of farmers running just about every type of farm operation there is.Here goes:
1.Farm Structure:The sooner a famer can structure their farm as a legal enti…

Michigan Farm News has Schwarz in Recent Succession Article

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Nicole and husband Rafe Ward became sole proprietors of Eastman’s Antique Apples LLC in 2018. Since then, the couple has focused on the hard cider part of the business, not just selling apples. Today, their hard cider business, Forgotten Ciders LLC, distributes product on-site at 1068 W. Midland-Gratiot County Line Road in Wheeler, Mich., as well as at the Midland Farmers’ Market and bars, restaurants, and party stores across the state.

Succession Planning Part 2: When creating a succession plan, farmers should think of ‘breaking the farm apart’March 20, 2019 Category: PeopleCrops
by Mitch Galloway | Farm News Media
WHEELER — The paper signing is a blur now to Nicole Ward, who is a year removed from taking over a 14-acre apple orchard in Midland County. Yet, what isn’t blurry or fuzzy or grainy for the apple grower and cider maker from Wheeler, Mich., is the image of the white farmhouse — the one where her husband’s grandparents couldn’t live in “by themselves” and where the whole p…

"Brutal" is probably the appropriate adjective to describe the farming status

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Farmers face another brutal year in 2019March 8, 2019 Category: Politics
by Farm News Media
As farmers across the country prepare for the 2019 planting season, the one question on everyone’s minds seems to be: will the new Farm Bill provide an adequate safety net to see farm families through another brutal year? The Wall Street Journal and Politico have both reported on farm bankruptcies rising to the highest level in at least 10 years. Asked about these troubling reports, House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said, “I have been saying for a year people are nervous.” Meanwhile, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) noted the Farm Bill can help farmers “but we need price recovery.” House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Mike Conaway (R-TX) may have been the canary in the coalmine on this question, arguing throughout the Farm Bill process that the safety net provisions of the Farm Bill must be strengthened. Farming is inherently risky, requiring a large amount …

Passing on the family farm: Can the next generation afford it?

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In the not so distant past, economics played a lesser role in farm succession planning.Let’s face it, with 7 dollar corn and 15 dollar beans, their generally was ample money to bring in the next generation into the farming operation and/or have the next generation buy out the older generation.Now, with prices that are break even or below, economics play a much greater role. The question becomes how do we ensure the next generation can financially afford to take over the farm?I was recently asked how does a farm family pass on a farm if the next generation cannot afford it.We all know it is next to impossible for someone to break into farming due to the capital costs of land, machinery, and so forth.So, how do we expect the next farming generation to do the same? In many instances, for the older generation, economics and the need for income is so important that succession plans do not get established because the older generation is fearful if the farm is transferred so does their incom…