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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Legal Risk

As we continue our Risk Management discussion, Legal Risk and the awareness of this risk is crucial.

Better risk management decisions can be made when farmers realize that legal implications are a part of many day-to-day commitments. Loan repayment, use of pesticides, marketing of agricultural products, even human resource issues and inheritance laws – all and more are part of the legal issues that may come forward.

The most common legal issues associated with farming are: appropriate legal business structure and tax and estate planning, contractual arrangements, tort liability, and statutory compliance, including environmental issues.

As a farmer, you should ask yourself:

- Have I reviewed my property and liability insurance policies? Do they exclude areas that concern me, such as pollution and/or livestock?

- Am I covered in community service activities?

- Are my leased buildings and equipment covered?

- Do I need to perform an environmental audit? Am I keeping the required records?

Regardless of the type contractual arrangement – oral or written – you should be concerned about what happens if there is a disagreement. Check with your local State Bar Association, there are often publications on various legal topics available. It’s always better to visit a qualified attorney before entering into an agreement. Preventive action can be much cheaper and less time-consuming.

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