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INDIANA Farmers - Fence Laws

1689 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  durallymax
Good Evening, everyone.
I have a family member who has a blueberry farmer giving him grief over brush on the fence line (family member's side). He has previously cut out 10 foot into another neighbors property without their permission, saying it is a by-law that protects farmers who raise livestock. That being if they clear into their neighbors property it will prohibit cattle from eating anything poisonus.

I was just wondering if this was something he drummed up to get his way on an ole city boy who recently moved to the country?

All opinions appreciated, and I sell farm equipment for a living so I see it both ways as far as him wanting to increase berry yields. Thanks everyone
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Probably the wrong section for this topic.

I'm a little confused. There is your relative and the neighbor. Who is the blueberry farmer, who is cutting on the side of the fence that is not theirs and who is the livestock farmer?

The way it reads now, the neighbor is the blueberry farmer who is cutting the brush on your relatives side of the fence because he believes there is a law/clause/etc that allows livestock owners to do so. I don't understand how any of this increases blueberry yields?

It would make sense if person on side "a" was a blueberry farmer and person on side "b" was a livestock farmer. The Livestock farmer claims he has a right to cut back brush his cattle can reach, and the blueberry farmer has blueberries planted on the fenceline for some reason so the livestock farmer cutting down his blueberries effects the yields?

What am I missing? Regardless the details don't matter much but I am think something didn't get explained right.

Every state differs and fence laws allow a lot of grey areas. It sounds like you have a "Partition" fence where the fence is built on the property line. In WI and many other states, Partition fences are equal responsibility for each person on each side of the fence unless otherwise agreed upon in notarized written form with two witnesses and filed at the town clerks office. The responsibility is passed on to future generations as well, so even though you may not want to be responsible for the fence, you are unless you sign an agreement with your neighbor.

In WI a fence is required between property used for farming and/or grazing. Both property owners can agree to not install/maintain a fence if they choose. Many times this is not a written agreement between those who simply plant crops with no livestock, so technically one neighbor could be a dick about it if he wanted.

I don't study law, but their may be something in there about livestock eating things on the other side of the fence. I don't know. What I do know is that you are equally liable if his animals break through the fence. This means you cannot collect anything from him for damages and if the cow runs out into the road after breaking through fence you can be responsible as well as its your duty to maintain the fence. There are exceptions though, most of this only applies to beef/dairy. With swine or horses for example you can collect for damage caused by them. However if a bull over 6 months, or something like a stallion breaks through the fence, the owner of the animal is solely responsible, not both parties as with steers/cows. Of course all of this is WI law and assumes you have no written agreement with the owner of the fence. Many people will divide the Fence in half and the rule of thumb is for you to maintain the piece of fence to your right as you face the neighbors property. If an agreement like this is written and the animal breaks through the fence at the portion the neighbor is responsible for, things change.

None of this has much to do with mowing the other side of the fence. I don't know the laws about that, I assume its a very grey area because on one hand you need access to maintain the fence, but on the other hand its your responsibility to maintain that side not the neighbors (unless agreed upon otherwise). You could go after him for trespassing and mowing your side and he could go after you for not maintaining the fence properly. This is why its best to settle things out of court if possible. You will both loose and the lawyers will win.

I also don't know what happens when an animal eats something on your property and then gets sick because of it. The fence is your responsibility and his so was it your fault you let stuff grow where the animal could reach it, or who should've built the fence so the animal could not reach over the line. Anything protruding into his land can be cut by him, but the other side of the fence is grey. Certainly not 10'.

He sounds like he could be a joy to deal with, or maybe your family member is too. Can't tell online, I'm not one to take sides. The best solution I can offer is to come to an agreement with the neighbor. Offer to keep 5' trimmed along the fence if he offers to accept full responsibility for the fence. This puts him on the hook for any escaped animals and all of the maintenance for the fence. Meanwhile what do you loose? You go out there with a brush mower and trim it down. You could even offer to let him trim your side to a certain distance if he releases you from the responsibility for the fence, although this would probably take a lot of fancy legal work to establish the legal limits. Probably easiest to agree to keep your side of fence trimmed, and let him be responsible for fence. Use real numbers though, say 5' dont just say reasonable distance where animals cant reach it, he could claim he has giraffes or something dumb and probably win.

Try to talk it over first but dont piss him off or he will never agree to the deal. Have your lawyer write everything up since you are the offended party, then present it to the neighbor. If you do all of the leg work and give him what he wants he should be happy. You are not loosing much. I am no blueberry farmer but 5' along a fenceline to keep a neighbor happy doesn't seem like much to me.

Again I am no lawyer and the above is just how I interpret the WI law.
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