Arata, Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger Arata, Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger
Agricultural Litigation

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Involved in an Agricultural Activity Dispute?

Agricultural Law Attorney Explains How to Mitigate Risk

As a farmer, you are a backbone of the economy. Agricultural law exists to protect your ability to produce. Generally, these laws are designed to meet your needs. Unfortunately, there are times when government entities, individuals or businesses may challenge your farming activities. For example, a new neighbor can file a claim that your agribusiness is offensive and reducing their quality of life. Additionally, zoning claims can impose limitations on your growth. If you have concerns about your farming activities, then an agricultural law attorney can answer your questions and bring you peace of mind.

The Modesto agricultural law attorneys at Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger provide representation for a wide range of agricultural activities. For a decade, we have represented processors, equipment manufacturers, agribusiness licensors, distributors and livestock and crop producers in Modesto. If you are a ranch, farm, corporation or cooperative, then we can provide legal counsel concerning your right to farm. We regularly work with owners and industry professionals. If you have questions about environmental law, regulations, financing, taxes or other concerns, we can help.

What Are California’s Right to Farm Laws?

Starting in the 1980’s, California established laws to protect farmers. Known as “Right to Farm” laws, these protections are in place as a means to limit frivolous lawsuits. However, Right to Farm laws do not grant immunity. As a result, you must operate in a reasonable and legal manner to be able to benefit from the law. If you do not meet state standards of operation, then you increase the risk of claims against you. For example, a resident can file a complaint with a county or city claiming that your operations are a public nuisance — any offense to the senses can be considered a public nuisance.

An agricultural law attorney can help you establish your farm as legitimate by proving:

  • Use: Your agricultural activity must be for commercial use. For instance, home gardens and personal use farms are not protected.
  • History: In public nuisance claims, a judge will consider the history of your agricultural operation. Thus, you must prove your farm was not a nuisance at the time your farm started.
  • Standards: Standards and customs exist for commercial use farmers. Our agricultural law attorney can work to establish evidence that you consistently follow regulations for farming activities.
  • Years in Operation: Your farm must be in operation for a minimum of three years. Determining when your agricultural activity began can have a big impact against claims.

When Do I Need an Agricultural Law Attorney?

Unfortunately, there are instances when you may face an agricultural-related dispute. Usually, these disputes involve limiting your ability to continue your farming activities. For example, local governments and property owners sometimes sue farmers to cease agricultural operations. Livestock owners face unique challenges, as new homeowners in the area routinely complain of smell.

Furthermore, you may need a lawyer if there are issues over utilities. For instance, a neighbor can complain that your water system has caused damage to their property. Thankfully, an agricultural law attorney can minimize the impact of these nuisance lawsuits.

There are other agribusiness-related issues for which you should contact an attorney. If you are just starting your operation, an agricultural law attorney can help with the formation of your farm. An agricultural lawyer can investigate and review contracts to protect your best interests. Further, a good lawyer will provide general counsel concerning everything you produce — from corn to hogs.

If you are taking part in a joint venture and have multiple owners, an agricultural lawyer can help draft responsibilities for all of you. That way, you can have clearly stated goals and procedures — with little room for misinterpretation — as well as extra protection for your agricultural activity.

Agricultural Law Questions? Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Are neighbors complaining that they are offended by aspects of your farming operation? Do you have concerns that new development near you could increase your risk? Is a local government entity or neighbor making you feel pressured to limit your production? Unfortunately, sometimes people do not respect the importance of agricultural activity. There are moments when you may need the counsel of a professional. Our firm believes you deserve to have your rights and best interests protected.

At Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger, we keep up with current environmental and technological developments. As a result, we are well suited to counsel farmers on how to prepare or minimize claims against your operation. We represent both agribusiness and locally owned agriculture companies and can assist with forming single owner or joint ventures. Whether you run an agricultural activity in California, across states or internationally, we can help.

Contact us online or call (209) 340-1110 to schedule a consultation.


“This firm exemplifies how a multi-faceted group of attorneys can work together to achieve positive results.”

- James M.
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  • Broadside Motor Vehicle Accident

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  • Business Dispute

    Recovered $3,300,000 in buy-out and settlement of minority business owners in breach of fiduciary duty obligations of entity management action.

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    Recovered $1,200,000 in income producing property in family business dispute action alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary against majority owner family members wherein all income payments and distributions to client had ceased for multiple years.

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