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Changing rural residences lead to legal challenges

Information from a Farm Credit Canada publication
court gavel and justice scale

Changes in the composition of rural Canada appear behind a growing rate of litigation in agriculture.

The increased use of courts to resolve disputes in farming is noted in a Farm Credit Canada publication.

Until recently, estate disputes have been the main source of farm-related litigation.

Ontario farmer and lawyer John Goudy says the rate of litigation will continue accelerating as long as “agriculture remains on the course it’s on with larger farms and more money at stake.”

The increase in rural acreage dwellers has an impact as the urban residents challenge rural laws and customs.

“The days of the rural community being insulated from the urban community are over,” says Goudy.

Practices such as using human waste as fertilizer or building bio-digesters and smells push litigation issues.

Value of farms and battles between business associates are another source of legal disputes.

And there are more conflicts between farmers over water quality and drainage matters as well as more charges laid by regulatory authorities.

Farmers are advised to be aware of practices that can lead to legal disputes — handshake agreements, oral agreements.

And farmers should realize changing community and regulatory expectations can cause legal concerns.  

Ron Walter can be reached at