At Conger and Smith, we are actively engaged with the agricultural community. We not only represent farmers, but we are also farmers ourselves. We are members of local farming and lending co-ops and we have served on the local Farm Services Agency (FSA) County Committee. The experience and expertise that we have gained from our involvement in our community is of the utmost importance and a key element that we bring to the table when we meet with our clients and address the issues they are facing.
We highly recommend that those seeking an agriculture attorney look for one that is actively involved in the local community and understands the nuts and bolts of the agricultural industry. In order to accurately represent an agriculture operation, there are many nuances and details that can easily be missed by an attorney who has not been involved in the industry.
What are Important Questions to Ask an Agriculture Attorney?
It is important that those seeking an agriculture attorney ask questions that help determine how well their attorney understands the industry. What type of experience does the attorney have with other agriculture operations? Do they have a firm grasp of the role that FSA plays in your operation? Do they understand the agricultural calendar and how it can impact cash flow in a farming operation?
Farming clients often face legal issues that touch on common areas of the law that are not all that different from those that other business operators might face. It would not be unusual for a farming client to, within a short period of time, require assistance on a small litigation matter, a real estate transaction, and a probate matter. Many general practice attorneys are experienced enough in these areas of the law to be comfortable jumping into a file touching on one of these areas; however, when a farming client is involved, there are important fine details present that can be missed if the attorney does not have proper experience in the industry.
One of the most important aspects of the agriculture industry is interfacing with the FSA. The FSA is the office that oversees the USDA’s farm programs, disaster assistance, and loan offerings. A good agriculture attorney knows how to effectively communicate with the FSA office and possesses the ability to advise an operation about the FSA’s rules and regulations. This is an essential key in providing assistance to agriculture operations.
What Documentation is Required for an Agriculture Attorney?
Because of the importance of the FSA in a farming operation, one of the first items of documentation we will ask our clients to share is Form 902. This document will inform us about how their farming entity is structured and who the interest holders in the operation are. This document also will inform us about the land they are working, who owns that land, and what crops are being produced. This document provides much of the information we need in order to get started on a file.
When applicable, we will also often request a copy of any organizational documents applicable to the farming operation – usually a partnership or operating agreement. This document gives us insights into what rules the operation’s owners have applied to themselves.
What sets Conger & Smith apart as an Agriculture Attorney?
At Conger and Smith, we are both farmers and attorneys. Greg and Maggie Smith are partners in Eldorendo Farms, General Partnership – a row-cropping operation based in Eldorado, Georgia. Greg served for 6 years on the Decatur County FSA Committee and has assisted numerous farming clients during his career. Thanks to our experiences with the farming community, we have a deep understanding of the farming industry and the pressures that farmers are facing.
We understand how these operations work and what makes them profitable. Additionally, we have firsthand knowledge of how farms interact with the FSA, USDA, and crop insurance providers and the key roles they all play in farming operations. We apply our personal knowledge and experience as farmers when advising and counseling our clients.
At Conger and Smith, we have an experienced and knowledgeable team in place that possesses the ability to service clients in many areas of the law such as real estate and business law, trusts, estates, and probate, as well as civil litigation and more. We appreciate the opportunity to serve our community in this way and are here whenever you need us.