A new Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation has been established at Iowa State University. The Board of Regents, which oversees the state universities in Iowa, approved the new center at its Nov. 8 meeting in Ames.
"The center will address a growing need in today's agriculture for expertise to help people make informed decisions that are increasingly being shaped by legal and tax issues," says Roger McEowen, professor of ag law and an associate professor in the ISU Department of Agricultural Education and Studies.
"There also continues to be a strong need for agricultural law education and outreach programs to support Iowa's agricultural economy," says McEowen, who will serve as the center's director.
Center to help farmers, others
The center will focus on topics that include ag taxation, commercial transactions, tort law, property law, farm estate and business planning, bankruptcy, environmental and natural resource law, and regulatory law and policy. The center will be self-supporting through revenue generated by seminars and materials, as well as by fund-raising.
"The center will have a strong extension focus," adds McEowen. "It'll provide timely, objective information to ag producers, landowners, businesses and professionals on important developments in ag law and taxation."
Farmers have to contend with more legal issues than ever before. "It's probably not a good thing--but the trend is that the law is becoming more entangled in a farmers' life, practically daily," he says. "Everything from estate planning, business planning, taxes, issues with genetically-modified technology, liability, fence law and environmental issues—the list goes on and on."
Expand ag law resources at ISU
The new center will expand existing ag law resources at ISU and will ramp-up the effort. The center will hire at least one full-time staff attorney initially, and a full-time secretary to help McEowen. He will also have a couple of teaching and research assistants working through the center. He says the center will help Iowa attorneys and others involved in the legal profession to keep abreast of developments on ag law and taxation, as well as help individual farmers.
Last year there were several major rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court pertaining to agriculture. "I've never seen a term of the Supreme Court that had so much impact on agriculture as the last term did," say McEowen. "We have important ag decisions across the country all the time. But to have them focused at the U.S. Supreme Court level was certainly unique and we had several last term."