Agribusiness is a major industry in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Services estimates that, in 2020, agriculture, food and related industries contributed more than $1 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product. Agribusiness is at the heart of a wide array of industries, notably animal agriculture (dairy, beef, chicken, etc.), food producers, co-ops, manufacturers and supply chain providers. New York State ranks among the largest producers of agricultural crops and products.

Phillips Lytle’s agribusiness lawyers are among some of the country’s leading practitioners in this industry. Phillips Lytle is experienced and well-positioned to counsel its clients on the entire agribusiness value chain as well as defend them in class action lawsuits, commercial litigation and regulatory enforcement actions. Six of our office locations are in the State of New York, and we have extensive expertise in legal matters related to New York agribusiness.

Our multidimensional practice team creatively helps our clients solve the complicated, diverse and ever-changing issues that arise in the agribusiness arena, including in the food safety, real estate, environmental, energy, immigration, labor, animal welfare, tax and transactional areas. From family farms to crop consultants to gas pipeline developers, these are just a few of the areas in which we offer our clients legal expertise in the agribusiness arena:

  • Federal Milk Marketing Orders
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act
  • The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), formerly the North American Free Trade Agreement, particularly in the area of expanded market access for dairy and poultry producers
  • Farm Workforce Retention Credits
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) water regulations, including water withdrawal and permitting regulations, and concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) permitting operations
  • H2-A visa rules governing the temporary employment of foreign agricultural workers
  • Organic livestock standards under the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service
  • New York’s Methane Reduction Plan
  • Processing, manufacturing and retail selling of cannabis and hemp
  • Transportation of agricultural commodities under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act
  • Farm tax planning
  • Farm acquisition and sale
  • Land disputes
  • Real property tax assessments
  • Farm equipment financing for purchase or lease
  • Intellectual property protection for equipment, food and beverage
  • Producer co-op issues

Our representative cases include the following:

  • Providing legal services to a full-service dairy solutions provider in the redevelopment and revitalization of a portion of the former Seneca Army Depot. Ongoing legal assistance includes guidance interpreting the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, zoning approvals, intellectual property and environmental permits.
  • Representing a large dairy against a Clean Water Act multiparty lawsuit alleging that its farming practices contaminated private drinking wells, and that airborne contamination resulted in personal injury and diminution in property values. We obtained a summary judgment ruling from the Northern District of New York, which was affirmed by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals and included a precedent-setting award of legal fees to a prevailing defendant under the Clean Water Act.
  • Representing recovered natural gas pipeline developers and dairy farmers on methane pipeline projects to reduce methane air emissions, including energy project finance, SEQRA, zoning approvals, and drafting and negotiating commercial supply agreements.
  • Representing farms in negotiating consent agreements with both EPA and NYSDEC for a wide variety of alleged violations, resulting in significant reductions in proposed fines.
  • Providing legal services to a commercial farming operation with respect to intellectual property protection on farm equipment inventions and food and beverage products.
  • Advising on legal issues relating to a coffee plantation in Guatemala.
  • Representing a coalition of farms in providing comments to proposed state and federal regulations impacting agricultural operations in air, water, labor, pesticide and other issues.
Practice Area Icon: Agribusiness