Agriculture & Farming Law

Running a business can be complicated in California because it is not known for being the most business-friendly state. Combined with the unpredictable nature of the agricultural & farming industry, farmers and agribusiness owners must continually adapt to a changing landscape. From business entity formation, to contract negotiation, to litigating land use issues, experienced legal representation will allow you to concentrate on growing your business and prepare for the changes ahead.


There are many aspects of agribusiness law that can impact anyone in the industry, from large corporations to family-owned farms to individual service providers. Our experience in agribusiness representation includes:

  • California business entity formation
  • Contract negotiation
  • Employment contract disputes
  • Migrant farmworker issues
  • Construction disputes
  • Lien enforcement
  • Enforcing contracts
  • Landlord representation
  • Representing farmers and dairymen
  • Representing poultry and livestock companies
  • Enforcing food processing and packaging agreements
  • Contracts with farm service providers
  • Environmental compliance
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Farm succession planning
  • Real estate transactions and litigation
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Water rights and water resources


Entity formation involves registering the right type of business entity to protect your investments and help your business grow. This may include a partnership, limited liability company (LLC), S Corp, C Corporation, or other recognized business structures. An important aspect of many agribusiness structures is limiting the personal liability of members and owners. Without limited liability, an owner may be financially liable for the debts of the company or civil lawsuits against the business.

Other factors in assistance with entity formation include tax treatment, corporate formalities, and raising capital. An experienced California agribusiness entity formation lawyer can help you decide on the best form for your business, prepare and file the necessary documents, and provide guidance to protect your company and adapt to any changes.

Farm and agricultural businesses may decide that acquiring another company or merging with another business will help them increase market share, adapt to a changing market, and help the company grow. Talk to your California M&A business lawyer about preparing for a merger or acquisition, negotiate merger and acquisition agreements, and handle any shareholder disputes.


Farm and agribusiness litigation can range from minor disputes to multi-state litigation. Litigation can involve disputes with employees, contractors, suppliers, buyers, brokers, insurance companies, equipment companies, landowners, processors, and competitors. Litigation can go on for years in large agribusiness disputes but these disputes can also be settled at any time before the end of trial.

From the beginning of filing a claim through trial and appeals, our experienced litigators will fight for you to represent your interests, protect your assets, and negotiate for the best outcome for you and your business. 


Employment contract issues and disputes are common in the agricultural industry. Farmers have to deal with changing labor pools, new labor laws, labor subcontractors, and unpredictable labor needs. An employee injured on the job, claim of harassment or discrimination, or wage and hour claims can be costly and time-consuming for companies.

Business lawyers with experience dealing with the unique issues of employment in the farming industry can help prepare and negotiate employment contracts to reduce the likelihood of litigation, counsel for regulatory compliance and new labor laws, and litigate any disputes to save the business owner time and money.


Environmental compliance in California is another issue that most agribusinesses have to deal with on a regular basis. State and federal laws regarding pollution, water use, waste disposal, pesticides, chemicals, and runoff are changing all the time. Even where the law may be unclear or appear to be in conflict with other regulations, a farmer may face hefty fines or costly compliance changes from the EPA or CalEPA.


Water resources are an important issue for businesses, especially in Kern County and Bakersfield. Water issues for farmers include:

  • Water rights
  • Water permits and water-use compliance
  • Wastewater regulation
  • Environmental compliance
  • Water supply and use disputes
  • Enforcing water service agreements
  • Water infrastructure damage
  • Water agreement negotiations


The most basic need for farmers and those in the agricultural business is land. Farmers and agribusinesses may own land, rent the property to others, share land use, or lease land. Any lease agreement, rental agreement, or real estate transaction can involve an eventual dispute. This may involve terminating a lease, violating the terms of the agreement, or enforcing the terms of the contract.

Proper document and contract preparation and negotiations can go a long way to limit potential disputes down the road. This can also protect your property and assets from liability. In the event the dispute cannot be settled, you may require an experienced litigator to handle the dispute and obtain the best outcome possible. Talk to your Bakersfield agribusiness lawyer about real estate and land use transactions and litigation resolution.


Agriculture, farming, and livestock can be volatile and most agribusinesses can benefit from experienced legal representation in planning, settling disputes, or growing their business. At Zimmer & Melton LLP, we stand on the side of our clients in their agricultural business law needs, including transactional issues, negotiations, and litigation. Contact us with any questions on agribusiness law and for experienced legal representation.