Farm and Land Legal Update Fall 2017

Nosy Neighbor Raises a Stink: Biosolid Use by Farms Next to Towns

Recently, in Ontario, a homeowner living on the edge of the Town of Cobourg made a claim against her farming neighbor claiming damages relating to the farmer spreading biosolids on his farmland. The complainant said that the biosolids had seeped from the farmlands into her property and it was now contaminated by biosolids.  She claimed trespass of property, negligence and nuisance. The complainant had (a) no evidence that liquids had seeped into her property; (b) if liquids had seeped, no evidence that the liquids were contaminated with bio solids; (c) no expert evidence of customary practices or standard farming practices not met; (d) no evidence of damages; and (e) no objective evidence that the odour interfered with her use and enjoyment. Conversely, the farmer had reports from the Ministry of the Environment and from the Town which described the odour as either “acceptable” or “not terribly strong”. The Court[1] dismissed the complainant’s action.

Purchase Contract Frustrated by Lower Quality Crops

In early 2014, a specialty crop marketer entered into contracts with Farmers PF and MA near Markinch, SK to purchase small red lentils with grade #2 Canada.  The 2014 growing season in the Markinch area was extremely wet and a portion of the farmers’ lands were flooded.  At harvest, PF’s and MA’s lentils were graded lower than contracted for.  The crop marketer advised PF and MA that it would accept the lower quality lentils at the #2 Canada price.  But, the price of lentils had risen sharply so PF and MA sold their production to another company at a higher price.  The farmers were sued by the crop marketer for the costs that it incurred in purchasing replacement lentils.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal[2] upheld a lower court decision that the contract did not give the crop marketer the right to demand delivery of lentils of a lower quality or waive non-compliance.  The contract had been frustrated and bringing the lentils to Grade #2 or better would have required cleaning and blending which was not addressed in the contract.  In this case, Farmers PF and MA were okay to sell their lentil production to a different buyer at a higher price.

[1] Deavitt v. Greenly, 2017 ONSC 5674.

[2] PS International Canada Corp. v. Palimar Farms Inc., 2017 SKCA 78.