Farm and Ranch Project

The Farm and Ranch Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska is the oldest continuously operating farm legal services program in the United States. Legal Aid works in collaboration with the Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska (IMN), the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Farm Mediation Service and Beginning Farmer Program (NDA), and other partners, to provide a range of services to Nebraska farm and ranch families.

These services include the Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska's Rural Response Hotline (1-800-464-0258) which, through full-time staff and on-call legal and financial consultants, offers rural Nebraskans a ready source of practical advice, as well as a clearinghouse of information on a wide range of available services. Legal Aid and NDA collaborate to offer Farm and Ranch Legal and Financial Clinics. These free, confidential, one-on-one clinics, held monthly in six locations across the state, are staffed by an agricultural law specialist and a farm financial counselor.  Other resource on rural issues can be found by following this link.

Legal Aid works with a variety of partners to host free seasonal Estate and Transition Planning Workshops for farm and ranch families. Legal Aid and IMN have also collaborated to establish a counseling program for rural Nebraskans, the Nebraska Counseling, Outreach, and Mental Health Therapy program, or COMHT, under which farm and ranch families and individuals of limited means may obtain no-cost vouchers to use in paying for confidential mental health counseling from participating licensed counselors. Through the Ag mentor Program, Legal Aid offers on-farm consultations with financial and legal counselors.

Through this array of services, Legal Aid assists and advises farm and ranch families in
the following substantive areas:

Estate and transition planning, including
o Understanding and choosing estate and transition planning tools
o Estate, gift and inheritance taxation
o Beginning farmer and rancher programs and resources
o Medicaid and long-term care
o Use of entities (LLC, S Corporation, limited partnership) in transition plans

Financial distress transactions, including
o Preparation for mediation
o Cash flow analysis
o debt restructure
o debt refinance
o asset liquidation or sell down, tax consequences
o reorganization, Chapter 12

Family farm and ranch business planning, including
o cash flow and balance sheet analysis and preparation
o federal farm loan programs
o control and management issues
o family communication skills
o use of entities
o enterprise analysis

Rights and remedies, including
o Real estate issues, leases, deeds of trust, adverse possession, easements, eminent domain, school land, tax sale certificates
o ground and surface water regulation and rights, water transfers, drainage ways, flooding and accretion
o Contracts, farm and pasture leases, custom cattle care arrangements, grain contracts
o Agricultural security interests
o Fence and livestock laws

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