Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Indiana Right to Farm – Himsel v Himsel

Shoutout to Brianna Schroeder for a great summary of the Indiana Supreme Court case Himsel v Himsel, decided on February 21, 2020.  Please check out her well-written and very readable article via the link, below:

Modern Livestock Farms Are within the Right to Farm Despite Size and Scope

This is a case involving the Indiana Right to Farm Act, and particularly, the Indiana Supreme Court makes clear that modern agriculture practices – including contemporary livestock farming – is consistent with historic agriculture use.  Quoting from the article:

“The farmers and the amici argued—and the Court agreed—that the Act preserves farmland by protecting farmers against nuisance lawsuits even if the modern farm arrives after the neighbors built their homes in the area. The change from cropland to livestock farming is not a statutorily “significant change” that would remove the Act’s protections. The farm was used for agricultural purposes in general at least as early as 1941, and neighbors’ non-farming land use began well after 1941. The neighbors knowingly built their homes in an agricultural area. That was enough for the Act to apply. The Court also rejected neighbors’ attempt to “repackage” their nuisance claim as one for “trespass” or “negligent siting.” ”

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled on several other principles of law which support the Indiana Right to Farm Act in general, and as applies to this case.

All farmers should (continue to) be considerate and compassionate toward residential neighbors, However, residential neighbors need to be aware of modern farming practices, now, and in the future.

Indiana State Fair – Modified 2020 State Fair Livestock Show

Unfortunately, the community and state effects of COVID have changed the way the Indiana State Fair will be presented for 2020.  We will not see the traditional state fair with activities, concerts, and wall-to-wall people enjoying 4H exhibits, shows, food, concerts, and the midway, but there will be 4H livestock and exhibits honoring the agriculture and youth focus of the Indiana State Fair.

Read the press release here:  2020_Indiana_State_Fair_Cancellation_Release.FINAL

Farmers Hacking Green

It’s not news that technology is both a blessing and a burden.  Every new iteration of today’s farm equipment is more efficient and allows the farmer to manage acres despite an ever-dwindling labor pool.

Today’s technologically advanced farm equipment is computer-controlled from the steering wheel to the tractor tires.  Unfortunately, John Deere uses proprietary software to control all the equipment operations, and even simple malfunctions require special software to diagnose and repair.  Of course, only your authorized John Deere dealer has access to that software, and if it is late or your farm is too far away from a dealership (or the dealership doesn’t have enough technicians to serve all the customers), a farmer could be stopped indefinitely.  Every hour of downtime costs money.

In protest, some farmers are turning to computer hacks or black market copies of diagnostic software so they can make their own repairs.  Technically, this violates the intellectual property of John Deere.  Practically, farmers believe they have no choice since John Deere is unable to provide any reasonable alternative.

Iowa is considering legislation that would allow farmers to use diagnostic software without penalty.  This is causing quite a stir in other technology markets.   While I disagree that AT&T and Microsoft would suddenly decline to sell their products in a state that allowed device hacking, I certainly can see cause for concern.

There should be a “happy medium” where both sides can prosper.  The manufacturers should provide licensed diagnostic software that allows the farmers to make their own repairs.  Those that are geographically remote or mechanically capable will take advantage of the opportunity, but my expectation is that there will still be a substantial market for dealerships to provide technical and mechanical service.

Farm labor is becoming too scarce – and this includes qualified technicians.  John Deere should embrace this change, and not only provide diagnostic software but teach classes (and provide certification).  A smart corporation can figure out how to profit from a model that make the customer happy.

For more information, check out this video: