Iowa State University will offer students majoring in agriculture a look at the legal angles of farming. Professor Roger McEowen will head the new Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation. It’ll deal with agricultural legal issues that face farmers and the professionals who advise them.

Classes in ag law have been a part of the department for over four decades, he explains, and the new center gives the topic some more focus. Legal issues affect the daily lives of farmers and ranchers all across the country, McEowen says.
“You can’t hardly make any type of decision without weighing legal consequences or taking into account what the legal and tax issues might be, and the implications that might occur, upon making a particular decision.”

He gives as an example a producer who owns livestock. “What happens if they get out on the road,” he suggests. “What are your liability issues?” McEowen says if some livestock disease ends up in the food chain or your bio-tech crop cross-pollinates the conventional or organic crop of a neighbor there are issues of ag law involved. There are issues of patents and anti-trust, estate and business planning, and all types of property issues.

McEowen says, “It’s almost endless, the type of legal issues that a farmer faces on a daily basis.” He says the center won’t train lawyers, though a number of students every year do decide to go on and get a legal education, but the center will be a resource to keep beginning and current farmers advised on recent updates to Iowa and federal law, and how the changes will affect farming.