Grains, Feeds, Oils, Inputs, Vegetables, Fruits and Tree Nuts

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Grains, Feeds and Oils

Although the drought of 2012 has hurt production, in the past five years, grain producers have experienced some of the more profitable times in the history of American agriculture. The high grain prices have resulted in increased capital capabilities for producers and in an increased incentive for those contracting for delivery of grain, ethanol solubles or other agricultural products to breach unfavorable contracts where prices have risen after entry into the contracts. The favorable pricing for grain also has caused producers to seek additional options for producing higher crop yields, including use of experimental fertilizers or genetically engineered crops to try to maximize yields in a time of high prices.

Kutak Rock has substantial experience in many facets of grain, feeds and oils production and addressing disputes regarding grain contracting issues. We have been involved in some of the largest disputes relating to genetically modified crops, including the StarLink case and Syngenta Viptera disputes involving corn and soybeans. Our attorneys are also experienced in representing purchasers of agricultural commodities in a variety of respects, including financing, contracting, disputes, and quality issues.

Inputs

Fertilizer and ag chemical companies face a larger array of legal issues. These include compliance with state-by-state registration requirements, environmental evaluations of products, breach of contract or breach of warranty claims from producers who utilize inputs and do not receive a desired outcome after use of the products, and claims by environmental groups that fertilizer inputs pollute the environment. Fertilizer applicators also face the constant threat of claims relating to chemical drift, failure to clean equipment appropriately prior to use with a different product causing damage to crops, and operator error which given the high prices could cause millions in damages to a producer.

The disputes among competitors and protection of valuable intellectual property have become important aspects of the fertilizer business.

Kutak Rock has experience with a large variety of legal issues related to agricultural inputs. Our attorneys have represented fertilizer companies—both Fortune 500 and small companies—in class action lawsuits, alleged crop damage, breach of warranty and misappropriation of trade secret actions. We also have represented clients in the most well-known matters involving genetically modified crops and have broad experience in the patent and trademark area relating to agricultural inputs, including enforcing patents against infringers and registering intellectual property rights for clients.

Vegetables, Fruits and Tree Nuts

Kutak Rock understands that vegetables, fruits and nuts are major areas of world agriculture and that these industries require and deserve professionals who understand the business. In 2010, nearly 1.8 million acres of vegetables and over 4 million acres of fruits and nuts were planted in the United States. It is a multi-billion dollar industry involving large sums of capital investment.

Several economic models exist for vegetable, fruit and tree farms: farms may grow large quantities of a few commodities and sell them in bulk to major markets or middlemen; farms may produce for local customers, which requires a larger distribution effort; farms may produce a variety of vegetables for sale through on-farm stalls, local farmers' markets or u-pick operations. These models are quite different from commodity farm products like wheat and maize which do not have the same ripeness problems and are sold off in bulk to the local granary. Our attorneys have the experience to help your agribusiness mitigate the risks associated with this industry and best manage capital investments.