Agricultural Law

A lease may cover a tract of land in general, or it may cover specific activities on the land.

A farmer can agree to provide a contractor with a set quantity of a commodity for a set price.

Joining a cooperative can allow farmers to mitigate risks and improve their access to markets.

States take varying approaches in allocating rights to the use of surface water and groundwater.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are the main types of agricultural leases?
    The main types of agricultural leases are cash rent leases and crop-share leases. In a cash rent lease, the tenant pays a certain price to the landowner for the parcel of land that they are farming, sometimes calculated by acre. In a crop-share lease, the tenant gives the landowner a certain percentage of the crops that they produce.
  • How does a farmer benefit from a production contract?
    A farmer benefits from a production contract by setting a fixed price for their commodity. They may receive technology and other support from the contractor that help them produce the commodity. A farmer also may find it easier to finance their operations if they have set up a contract.
  • How do farmers form or join a cooperative?
    Farmers must meet formal state requirements to form a cooperative. The founders of the cooperative must file articles of incorporation or other founding documents, adopt bylaws, and elect a board of directors. Joining a cooperative usually requires a farmer to make an initial investment.
  • Do minimum wage and overtime rules apply to agricultural workers?
    Federal minimum wage and overtime rules apply only to some agricultural employers. These are employers that used more than 500 man-days of agricultural labor during any calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year. State and local laws may provide stronger protections.
  • How does a food company get approval for an additive?
    Generally, an additive must be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration before it is released for consumption. The FDA will consider whether the additive is safe under the circumstances after reviewing safety data provided by the food company. However, a substance generally recognized as safe (GRAS) is not subject to the requirements for additives.
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Popular Topics
  • Financing and Credit in Agriculture
    If farmers cannot access traditional financing sources, they can seek assistance from the Farm Service Agency or the Farm Credit System, which issue loans to agricultural producers and cooperatives.
  • Labor Laws in Agriculture
    Agricultural laborers are often exempt from federal laws that provide protections for workers, but they may have rights under federal laws specific to agriculture or under state or local laws.
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation Programs
    Sustainable agriculture involves production practices that meet human needs and allow farmers to make a living without degrading the environment and reducing quality of life for society.
  • Farmland Preservation
    Zoning and other initiatives aim to preserve farmland and the way of life long enjoyed by farmers and ranchers, in addition to securing the national food supply and protecting the environment.
  • Food Safety Regulations and Standards
    The US has enacted some of the tightest food safety standards in the world, with severe penalties for violations, but regulations must constantly evolve to combat new types of foodborne illnesses.
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