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Sanders Land & Cattle Co. v. Department of Agric.

Citation: 33 ELR 20080
No. No. 01-2305, 49 Fed. Appx. 211/(10th Cir., 10/09/2002)

The court affirms the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency's (FSA's) decision to deny a New Mexico farm's application for enrollment in the conservation reserve program (CRP). The farm was purchased by a husband and wife who formed a joint venture to run the farm and whose sons operated the farm for six months prior to the CRP application deadline. In its application, the farm listed the sons as the farm owners and the joint venture as the operator. The FSA denied the application because the joint venture did not meet the CRP eligibility requirements and the sons had not operated the farm for 12 months prior to the application deadline. The farm appealed. The court first holds, however, that 7 C.F.R. §1410.5(a)(1) provides that an "owner" is a person or entity whom the FSA determines has sufficient legal ownership of the land. Similarly, an "operator" is a person who is in general control of the farming operation on the farm. An operator who wishes to participate in the CRP must have operated the eligible land for at least 12 months prior to submission of an offer. The FSA determined that no evidence existed that the husband and wife transferred ownership of the farm to the joint venture. Likewise, the sons did not operate the farm for more than 12 months prior to application.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Eric D. Dixon
Law Offices of Eric D. Dixon
309 S. Avenue A, Portales NM 88130
(505) 359-1233

Counsel for Defendant
Norman C. Bay
Law Offices of Norman C. Bay
3100 San Mateo Blvd., Albuquerque NM 87110
(505) 880-8541