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Strong roots matter.

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, agricultural co-ops, equipment manufacturers and input suppliers, agricultural lenders and other ag-related businesses—in all aspects of their operations.

Our agricultural law attorneys grew up on farms or in farming communities. We are attuned to the lifestyle and rural sensibilities. We also understand that modern agriculture is large-scale, sophisticated and competitive, requiring solid legal counsel and strategies.

Gislason & Hunter supports the business of production agriculture. Our clients range from family-owned farms of modest size to major agribusiness, including Christensen Farms and other pork producers, large dairy farms and creameries, sizable soybean and beet operations, John Deere Co. and implement dealerships, ethanol and energy co-ops, grain and food cooperatives, feed and fertilizer distributors and more.

 

Areas of Expertise

  • Ag Financing & Debt Restructuring
  • Ag Litigation
  • Agribusiness Formation & Transactions
  • Agriculture Contracts
  • Employment Matters
  • Environmental Regulation
  • Estate & Success Planning
  • Food Safety & Animal Rights Controversies
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Planning, Zoning & Land Use
  • Purchase & Leasing
  • Water Rights & Wetland Mitigation

Cases & Clients

  • 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

  • Landowner Disputes

    Provides experienced representation to property owners in land and water disputes with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

  • Commercial and Agricultural Collection Actions

    Christopher Bowler has assisted in the collection of secured and unsecured commercial and agricultural debts ranging in value from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.  Chris’ collections experience includes pre-litigation case assessments; foreclosures by advertisement; drafting complaints and commencing lawsuits; early motions, such as replevin and foreclosure motions; discovery matters, including written discovery, depositions, and discovery motions; dispositive motions; and post-judgment collection efforts.

  • 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.

  • Permitting

    In 2016 Cory 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

  • 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.

  • Farm/Agriculture Drainage

    Jeff Braegelmann represents farmers and other land owners in public drainage proceedings including petitioning for improvements, repairs, outlets, abandonments and other types of drainage projects. He also represents clients who need to oppose such projects by appealing decisions of drainage authorities regarding improvements, redeterminations of benefits and other drainage matters. Jeff also prepares drainage easements and other agreements to assist landowners with their private drainage and water projects.

  • 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.

  • Lending Litigation

    In 2017 Cory 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 Cory 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

  • 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.

  • Farm Estate and Succession Planning

    Represented major agricultural producers in farm estate and succession planning.

  • Priority of Claims to Cattle

    Successfully represented clients in a dispute over priority of claims to cattle in the South Dakota Supreme Court.

  • 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.

  • Products Liability Case

    The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled on a products liability case that R. Stephen 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.

  • Ongoing Management of Trusts

    Provided legal guidance regarding ongoing management of trusts holding business and farm property