Gislason & Hunter is recognized within Minnesota and throughout the Midwest for our knowledge and experience in the agricultural industry. Our lawyers represent local, regional and national agribusiness clients—grain farmers and livestock producers, packers and processing plants, grain and food cooperatives, ethanol and energy cooperatives, equipment manufacturers and input suppliers, feed and fertilizer distributors, agricultural lenders and other ag-related businesses—in all aspects of their operations.
Our accomplished attorneys bring substantial expertise to the Agriculture & Agribusiness industry to deliver the very best in service and results.
- David C. Kim
- Daniel A. Beckman
- Matthew C. Berger
- Christopher E. Bowler
- Jeff C. Braegelmann
- Michael S. Dove
- Cory A. Genelin
- Reed H. Glawe
- Rick J. Halbur
- Seth I. Harrington
- Brittany R. King-Asamoa
- Jennifer G. Lurken
- Kaitlin M. Pals
- Abigail A. Pettit
- Noel L. Phifer
- David W. Sturges
- Andrew M. Tatge
- Mark S. Ullery
- Wade R. Wacholz
- Andrew A. Willaert, Jr.
- C. Thomas Wilson
- Sara N. Wilson
- Dean Zimmerli
- Christopher J. Kamath
Cases & Clients
Priority of Claims to Cattle
Successfully represented clients in a dispute over priority of claims to cattle in the South Dakota Supreme Court.
Products Liability Case
The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled on a products liability case that R. Steven Tillitt has been defending for several years. Steve’s client manufactured and sold a machine that compresses materials to extract fluids. While the purchaser was using it in its hog feed operation to extract expired dairy products from containers, an untrained employee climbed into a portion of the machine ignoring a warning and without following the lockout/tagout procedure. Another employee activated the machine, crushing the man’s legs resulting in a double amputation. The trial court granted summary judgment to Steve’s client on three separate grounds, and a three judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed in 2016. The Minnesota Supreme Court accepted review of the case and reversed the lower courts on the issue of foreseeability in July 2017. The matter is now being considered by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on remand of the remaining two issues. The Supreme Court’s decision in Montemayor v. Sebright Products, Inc., d/b/a Bright Technologies, 898 N.W.2d 623 (Minn. 2017); 2016 WL 1175089 (Minn. Ct. App. March 28, 2016), has been covered by the media and will be the subject of two seminars in the future.
Environmental and Permitting Litigation
Dean Zimmerli has been involved in several appeals to the Minnesota Court of Appeals concerning agricultural producers and environmental law and permitting issues. For example, Dean researched complex areas of water regulation under the Federal Clean Water Act and assisted in briefing questions about the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s ability to regulate farming and irrigation practices as part of a stream improvement project. Dean has also defended a new swine facility that was approved by the County board but opposed by a vocal minority of nearby landowners in a case before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Dean has assisted farmers in responding to administrative orders from the DNR and other governmental entities.
In 2016 Cory Genelin defended a building permit for a hog confinement facility on behalf of a local producer. The township issuing the permit had made some procedural mistakes and issued insufficient findings. A neighboring property owner hired an attorney who specializes in fighting feedlot permits. The neighbor argued that an abandoned house was a residence in violation of the setback requirements. After litigation and three motions an improved permit was issued and the facility was built.
See Freeborn County File No. 24-CV-15-849
In October of 2017 Cory Genelin concluded multiyear litigation on behalf of a farm lender over a $3.125M agricultural loan assigned from another bank. The debtors defaulted and then denied any liability to the lender. (One of the debtors even denied the lender existed!) Prior to litigation the debtors had liquidated collateral, and mingled assets with another operation. A farm visit to inspect collateral turned violent and law enforcement was called.
The debtors alleged the entire panoply of spurious counterclaims including FDCPA violations, Minnesota Farm Lender Act violations, fraud and theft.
After discovery, depositions and motion practice Mr. Genelin got the debtors to reverse course, admit liability, and give up on their counter claims. They executed a confession of judgement and eventually paid off the debt in full including interest, penalties, and attorney fees.
See Sherburne County File No. 71-CV-16-1448
Packers & Stockyards Act Work
Christopher Bowler has performed extensive research and other work related to the Packers and Stockyards Act—a federal antitrust statute directed at the livestock industry. Chris’ experience with the Packers and Stockyards Act includes advising clients as to potential risks under the Act and co-authoring an article set to be published in the Mitchell Hamline Law Review.
New Drainage Project
Represented a group of farmers in their efforts to establish a new drainage project. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the farmers and upheld the drainage authority’s decision to establish the project.
Corporate and Personal Succession Planning
Advised business and farm owners on all aspects of corporate and personal succession planning, including Minnesota’s recent Qualified Farm Property and Small Business estate tax elections.
Agricultural Trust Litigation
In 2016 Cory Genelin defended the administration of two farm trusts valued at $5.2M. This followed previous litigation in 2014. In that litigation, Mr. Genelin had the court appoint a new trustee favorable to his client, the lifetime beneficiary of the trusts. After two years of favorable administration, a death beneficiary of the trust (who was also one of the trustees who lost power in the 2014 litigation) brought suit to remove the trustee and undo over $320,000 in payments to Mr. Genelin's client. After full litigation, the court upheld the actions of the new trustee including the payments to Mr. Genelin's client.
See Nobles County File #No. 53-CV-14-223
Employment Handbooks and Policies
Of course avoiding problems is even better than keeping them small. Cory Genelin draws on his experience as a combat leader to draw up plans and policies designed to help an organization operate effectively and accomplish the mission while staying within the bounds of the law. Mr. Genelin has drafted custom employment handbooks and employment policies for employers of all sizes including nursing home chains, group homes, hospitals, manufacturers, publishers, and agricultural producers.
Ongoing Management of Trusts
Provided legal guidance regarding ongoing management of trusts holding business and farm property
Successful Defense Jury Verdict
Obtained a successful defense jury verdict on behalf of a swine integrator following a two-week trial alleging nuisance, negligence and trespass.
Succession Planning for Family Farms
Worked with farm families throughout southern Minnesota in planning for the future transfer of the family farm from generation to generation. Special planning was needed to ensure that older generations can continue to earn a livelihood and be financially supported while transitioning ownership of the farm, and to provide for non-farming children as well as the children who wish to continue to the family business.