Video replays of the webinars are available to members in the Resources section of the AALA website. Click “Member Login” in the upper right corner to see the replays. These webinars are organized by AALA’s Distance Education Committee, which is comprised of members of the AALA. The technology platform is sponsored by the Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation at Iowa State University.
Nuts and Bolts of the Syngenta Corn Settlement: A Discussion with Co-Lead Counsel
Monday, June 4, 2018
Don Downing and AALA member William Chaney are two of the four court-appointed co-lead and litigation class counsel in the In re Syngenta AG MIR 162 MDL proceedings pending in Kansas Federal Court. In this webinar, they will review the history of the case and summarize the key points of the recently announced, historic $1.51 billion class action settlement reached on behalf of producers, grain elevators and ethanol plants. In particular, they will discuss the allocations of the settlement amount, identify the key claims, objection and opt-out deadlines and explain the easy and simple procedures for practitioners, producers and industry participants to complete the claims forms in order to participate in the settlement.
In this webinar, practitioners, producers and other industry participants heard discussion of:
- The claims asserted in the Syngenta corn litigation
- How those claims were resolved in the settlement, who may benefit from the settlement and how the settlement funds will be allocated
- The deadlines and procedures for class members to make claims, object or opt-out of the settlement
- The information which will be needed for a practitioner, producer or other industry member to make a claim
Our speakers and moderator are nationally recognized experts in agricultural class action litigation:
Bill Chaney, an AALA member and partner at Gray Reed & McGraw in Dallas, Texas, has successfully prosecuted and defended numerous complex commercial disputes with millions of dollars at stake, multiple parties and parallel litigation across several courts. Recently, Bill has played a key role in pioneering nationwide litigation involving genetically-modified crops. He served as a court-appointed member of the federal plaintiffs’ executive committee that helped farmers, mills and exporters recover substantial financial losses due to contamination of U.S. rice supplies with a genetically-modified variety developed by an international chemical and agricultural company. He is currently serving in a similar leadership role in the ongoing Syngenta corn class action, focused on helping farmers and others hold GMO seed developers accountable for introducing unapproved genetically-modified seeds to U.S. corn supplies.
Don M. Downing, Vice President of the St. Louis law firm of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., has represented farmers in numerous high stakes cases. As national co-lead plaintiff counsel he helped obtain a preliminarily approved $1.51 billion settlement for U.S. corn producers in multidistrict litigation involving Switzerland-based Syngenta. He was appointed national co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel in multidistrict litigation involving contamination of the U.S. rice supply by genetically modified rice that resulted in total settlement payments of over $1 billion. Don has represented hundreds of farmers in several states and recovered millions of dollars in cases involving defective cotton seed and crop damage caused by herbicide drift. Most recently, he was appointed Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the dicamba multidistrict litigation pending in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.
A Mid-Year Update on Developments in Environmental and Land Use Law affecting Agriculture
Monday, April 30, 2018
This webinar provided an update on the last six months for Environmental Law and Land Use Law, including updates on recent litigation and key cases under review by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Key topics of interest to practitioners of agricultural law included:
- Clean Water Act jurisdiction over groundwater;
- U.S. Supreme Court review of interstate conflicts over water and impacts on agricultural uses;
- Land use conflicts arising from marijuana production;
- Recent cases affecting water rights and priority use; and
- Right to Farm laws.
Our speakers and moderator are AALA members who are internationally recognized experts:
Professor Anthony Schutz is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska, College of Law. His research and teaching interests include agricultural law, land use regulation, environmental and natural resources law, private governance, and state and local government. Mr. Schutz was raised on a farm near Elwood, Nebraska, attended the University of Nebraska, Kearney, for his undergraduate training, and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law where he received his J.D., with highest distinction. He clerked in the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and taught as a visiting lecturer at Cornell Law School before joining the College of Law faculty. He has served as chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Agricultural Law Section and on the board of directors of the American Agricultural Law Association.
Jesse J. Richardson is a Professor of Law and the Lead Land Use Attorney at the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at the West Virginia University College of Law. He is also the Policy and Research Advisor for Water Systems Council. Before coming to WVU, Mr. Richardson was an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech. His research and experience focuses on land use law and water law. He began his legal career in private practice in his home town of Winchester, Virginia. Mr. Richardson presently has served on the Board of Directors of the American Agricultural Law Association and as the association’s President. Mr. Richardson previously served on the Virginia Water Policy Technical Advisory Committee. He was honored with the 1999 Professional Scholarship Award from the American Agricultural Law Association, the 2004 William E. Wine Award for a history of teaching Excellence from Virginia Tech (the highest teaching award granted by the university), and the 2009 University Certificate of Excellence in Outreach. He has worked on the legal and policy aspects of water across the United States.
Moderator Peggy Kirk Hall is an Assistant Professor and Field Specialist in Agricultural and Resource Law at The Ohio State University. She directs OSU Extension’s Agricultural and Resource Law Program and teaches Agribusiness Law in the College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences at OSU. Hall created the Ohio Land Use Law Academy, a training program for local land use officials in Ohio. She is a partner in the Agricultural & Food Law Consortium, a multi-institutional agricultural law research initiative directed by the National Agricultural Law Center. Hall holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from The Ohio State University and earned her law degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law, where she was a member of the Land and Water Law Review. She has served on the Board of Directors for the American Agricultural Law Association and as the association’s President. Hall and her family own and operate a grain farm and farm market in central Ohio.
Examining the Science and Legal Landscape of Dicamba: Where we are and what’s ahead
Friday, February 23, 2018
In this webinar, speakers provided vital information useful for agricultural attorneys who are assisting clients with potential Dicamba issues for the next planting season, including:
- An overview of Dicamba issues from a plant scientist’s perspective, Dr. Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri
- A summary of state and federal regulatory action taken to address Dicamba issues and an overview of the litigation landscape, Paul Goeringer and Kelly Nuckolls Winslow, University of Maryland Extension
- A plaintiff attorney perspective on civil claims/lawsuits, Bill Randles, Randles & Splittgerber law firm, addressing the Bader Farms case and class action plaintiffs; and
- A defense attorney perspective on civil claims and lawsuits, Liz Blackwell, Thompson Coburn, representing defendant Monsanto.
Kevin Bradley, Ph.D. serves on the faculty of the University of Missouri where he has extension and research responsibilities in the area of weed management in corn, soybean, wheat, pastures, and forages. Dr. Bradley also teaches a graduate level class in herbicide mechanism of action. In addition to evaluating new herbicides and weed management techniques, Dr. Bradley’s applied extension and research program focuses on the development of programs for the prevention and management of herbicide-resistant weeds, on the interaction of herbicides and weeds with other agrochemicals and pests in the agroecosystem, and on the effects of common pasture weeds on forage yield, quality, and grazing preference. By far, the largest percentage of Dr. Bradley’s research and extension efforts are directed towards the development of strategies for the management of glyphosate- and multiple herbicide-resistant weed biotypes. Specifically, he has conducted numerous surveys to characterize the prevalence of herbicide resistance in weeds like waterhemp, and to determine the effectiveness of future herbicide-tolerant crop technologies for the management of these troublesome species. Dr. Bradley earned his B.S. in Agriculture at Ferrum College and his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science at Virginia Tech.
Paul Goeringer is an AALA Member and Extension Legal Specialist at the University of Maryland where he specializes in legal risk management as it relates to agriculture. Previously Paul worked at the University of Arkansas where his legal research was focused in the areas of environmental compliance, right-to-farm laws, agricultural leasing laws, contracting issues, federal farm program compliance, recreational use and agritourism issues, and estate planning issues in agriculture. At the University of Maryland, Paul has worked with county extension educators to begin to fill the void in the areas of agricultural leasing and legal issues in estate planning. Paul is also looking at modifying his existing research in the areas of environmental compliance, right-to-farm laws, and federal farm program compliance to benefit Maryland’s farmers. Paul is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics, the University of Oklahoma with a J.D., and the University of Arkansas with an LL.M. in Agricultural Law and an M.S. in Agricultural Economics.
Kelly Nuckolls Winslow is an AALA member and Extension Legal Specialist with the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park and the Agriculture Law Education Initiative. Kelly has focused on farm transitions and estate planning, pesticide regulation and drift liability, and tax law. She received her B.A. from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, and her J.D. from Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa, where she received a certificate in Food and Agricultural Law. While at Drake, Kelly served as an intern in the Drake Agricultural Law Center and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. Kelly also recently completed her LL.M. in Agricultural and Food Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Bill Randles is a partner in the firm of Randles and Splittgerber in Kansas City, Missouri. He is a distinguished litigator with more than two decades of experience handling high-stakes business litigation including many “bet the company” matters for major corporations and small to mid-size businesses. He excels at winning complex cases, in the pretrial stage, as well as in the courtroom and on appeal. Over the course of his legal career, Bill has litigated on behalf of a wide range of clients from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and individuals. His practice is primarily devoted to general litigation, including product liability, business and commercial matters, employment and labor issues, torts, and contract disputes. Bill earned his B.A. in speech and psychology from Southwest Baptist University, his Masters of Communication Studies from Baylor University, and his J.D., with honors, from Harvard Law.
Liz Blackwell is a partner in the Thompson Coburn law firm in St. Louis, Missouri representing consumer product manufacturers in high-stakes product liability and false advertising litigation in state and federal courts across the country. She has defended clients against product design claims, false labeling and advertising claims, targeted marketing claims, content-based speech regulations, and court-ordered compelled speech in many cases, at both the trial court and appellate level. Recently, Liz successfully defended a major food manufacturer in a putative statewide “all natural” food labeling class action brought under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. She has also represented tobacco industry clients at trial in several significant cases challenging the industry’s product advertising and labeling practices. Liz has served on national legal strategy teams for major consumer product manufacturers for many years. She is regularly called upon to advise clients and develop briefing on complex federal preemption, First Amendment, punitive damages, and federal jurisdictional issues in complex product liability litigation. She has acted as lead legal issues and appellate counsel at trial in many cases, and for many years served on the national punitive damages defense team for a major consumer product manufacturer. She has significant experience developing expert witnesses, taking and defending depositions, and developing strategies for removing cases to federal court. Liz earned her B.A. at Westminster College, her M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Reviewing Key Provisions Impacting Agricultural Producers
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
In this two-hour webinar, speakers discussed key provisions of the new tax law impacting agricultural producers and businesses. In addition to discussing generally applicable sections, speakers talked about the 199A deduction and its potential application to different types of income, including that derived from farm rentals and payments from cooperatives. Speakers also highlighted several ambiguities in the law, noting the need for further regulatory guidance.
Speakers addressed these issues and others:
- What key individual income tax changes impact producers?
- How does the new 199A deduction impact my client’s business?
- Does the 199A deduction apply to farm rental income or self-rentals?
- What is the latest on the 199A qualified cooperative deduction?
- What are the impacts of the new tax law on estate planning and basis after death?
- How does the new tax law impact depreciation or like-kind exchanges?
Kristine Tidgren is Assistant Director, Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, Iowa State University where she analyzes legal developments impacting practitioners and producers. She writes numerous articles on current ag law and taxation issues, teaches an agricultural law class to undergraduate students, and is a frequent speaker on ag and tax law topics. She graduated Order of the Coif from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Iowa State University. She grew up on a farm in West Central Iowa. Tidgren is a member of the AALA and co-chairs AALA’s Distance Education Committee.
Theodore Feitshans, Extension Professor Emeritus in Economics-Ag/Environmental Law at North Carolina State University, has developed an Extension education program to provide legal information to a wide variety of audiences on environmental, agricultural, and related issues. Ted is currently conducting research on legal issues involving farm business succession. Ted has been a frequent presenter at American Agricultural Law Association (AALA) annual conferences and is a past President of the AALA. Ted earned his J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University, his M.S. in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Minnesota, and his B.S. with honors in animal science from Cornell University.
Marlis Carson is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, a trade association based in Washington, D.C. In addition to overseeing NCFC’s legal, financial, and tax compliance issues, Marlis coordinates the activities of NCFC’s Legal, Tax and Accounting Committee on federal issues impacting farmer cooperatives. She also serves as NCFC’s corporate secretary/treasurer. Prior to joining NCFC, Marlis served as a tax manager in Ernst & Young’s National Tax Department in Washington, D.C. She grew up in Kansas and is a graduate of Sterling College (Sterling, Kansas) and of The George Washington University Law School. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar.
Charles L. Telk Jr., CPA is the tax partner at Gardiner Thomsen, Certified Public Accountants – a CPA firm specializing in Agricultural Cooperatives headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Chuck grew up in Southern California and graduated from California State University, Northridge. Prior to graduating from CSUN, Chuck played football at McPherson College in McPherson Kansas – annually whipping Sterling College (Sterling, Kansas) on the gridiron.
Employment and Labor in Agriculture: What’s Happening Now, What Lies Ahead
October 16, 2017
Immigration reform is again at the forefront. The impact of the changing legal landscape is important for all employers and employees, especially those in labor-intensive industries such as agriculture. Prudent employers must keep abreast of the changing legal environment and stay one step ahead to avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation and audits.
This webinar reviewed 2017 legal and policy developments and their impact on ag employers. Speakers discussed what ag employers might expect in 2018 and beyond.
Kristi J. Boswell serves as Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on workforce issues. Prior to her recent appointment, Boswell served as American Farm Bureau director of congressional relations, where she also focused her work on farm labor. Boswell spoke at the 2015 AALA Agricultural Law Educational Symposium in Charleston, South Carolina on immigration policy as it affects agriculture, and she spoke at the AALA 2017 symposium in Louisville, Kentucky.
Boswell grew up on a farm in southeastern Nebraska where her family raised corn and soybeans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska’s College of Law. Boswell has been a member of the AALA since 2015.
Immediately after law school, Boswell practiced corporate defense litigation at Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP and worked as a political aide for a Nebraska State Senator Pam Redfield. One of her first jobs was serving as the Ag Youth Coordinator for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Mark A. Fahleson is a partner with the law firm of Rembolt Ludtke LLP in Lincoln, Nebraska. Fahleson is a 1989 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Agricultural Honors) and graduated with high distinction in 1992 from the University of Nebraska College of Law, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Nebraska Law Review. He served as a judicial clerk for the Hon. D. Nick Caporale of the Nebraska Supreme Court and practiced employment and labor law in Omaha before becoming Legislative Director and later Chief of Staff to Rep. Jon Christensen (R-NE) in Washington D.C. Fahleson has served as adjunct faculty at the University of Nebraska College of Law, teaching employment law, and is the past Chair of the Employment and Labor Law Committees for DRI and the International Association of Defense Counsel. Fahleson’s current practice centers on employment and labor law, government relations and agricultural law. He spoke on employment law issues at the 2017 AALA symposium in Louisville, Kentucky.