Whiteman Osterman & Hanna appreciates the rich heritage of New York’s agriculture industry. Across the state and around the country, WOH has assisted family farms and agricultural enterprises with navigating through the complex maze of government regulation to achieve their goals and provide creative solutions.
Ag law is complex and ever-changing. Our Ag Team has the depth of knowledge and years of experience needed to develop and implement creative strategies to resolve our clients’ legal challenges. We invite you to experience the WOH difference!
The Ag Team at Whiteman Osterman & Hanna delivers high-quality, creative and expeditious solutions services to the agricultural community in the following areas:
WOH HELPS FARMS SECURE A RELIABLE AND LEGAL WORKFORCE. WOH maintains one of the largest H-2A practices in the country, assisting agricultural businesses to obtain the temporary help they need to get through their growing/harvesting season. We manage H-2A compliance programs for farms around the country and work with our clients to navigate through the complex maze of government regulation. We work with many seasonal businesses to respond to DOL, H-2, and I-9 audit proceedings.
WOH HELPS FARMS ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH ONGOING LEGAL OBLIGATIONS. In this era of ever-increasing enforcement, it is critical that farms have policies and programs in place to ensure full compliance with federal laws and regulations. WOH helps farms comply with the employment verification and record-keeping requirements of the Immigration Reform & Control Act of 1986. We perform I-9 and other audits of the required employment paperwork, advise on document retention and correction requirements, and offer training on completion and maintenance of the required records. Click here to download compliance tools and resources.
WOH PROTECTS THE RIGHTS OF FOREIGN NATIONALS IN REMOVAL. WOH assists and advocates for individual foreign national clients in navigating through the complex removal proceedings, including orders of supervision, and representation through immigration court proceedings.
Real Property Tax Assessment
WOH HELPS FARMS SECURE FAIR AND ACCURATE REAL PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS. Real property taxes are a significant piece of the overhead of any farm in New York. Reducing the overall assessed value of a farm and increasing allocations of value to exempt property can significantly reduce this overhead. However, the procedure for challenging an assessment is difficult and requires careful attention to a complex law. We represent farmers in challenging their real property tax assessments throughout this entire process. In a state with one of the highest property tax burdens in the country, and an industry where margins can be razor thin, the property taxes assessed against a farm can make or break the farm operation. While New York State provides real property tax exemptions to lighten the load on farmers, misapplication of these exemptions, or overassessment, can put a farmer out of business. Our attorneys include an attorney who is also a licensed New York State General Real Estate Appraiser with experience in valuing farm properties, and negotiating and litigating agricultural assessments and exemptions. Unlike many law firms, we are able to provide preliminary assessment valuation services to our clients, allowing us to identify real property tax liabilities and negotiate favorable assessments with the municipal assessor. Our approach provides high-value to our clients, as we are often able to obtain tax savings for our clients without engaging an appraiser or resorting to litigation. Our services include: preliminary assessment review and valuation, drafting and submitting real property tax exemption forms, negotiating assessments and exemptions with municipal assessors, drafting real property assessment complaints and representation before boards of assessment review, and conducting tax certiorari proceedings.
Federal and State Tax Issues
WOH HELPS FARMS NAVIGATE THROUGH COMPLEX TAX ISSUES. WOH represents taxpayers in business and personal matters, including assisting in various federal and state tax planning and controversy. In a tax planning role, the Firm advises its agricultural clients on tax issues during business transactions and in complicated tax credit issues. In our controversy role, the Firm helps clients navigate through the difficult and stressful process when there is a disagreement with the Internal Revenue Service or the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.
Labor and Employment Law
WOH HELPS FARMS COMPLY WITH STATE AND FEDERAL LABOR LAWS. The Firm and its Labor and Employment Law Practice Group take a fundamentally different approach to the attorney-client relationship than that of many lawyers. We believe that being fully-integrated in our client’s daily activities and making ourselves available to answer routine questions for their managers before they take action, are critical to avoiding litigation and other legal problems. Moreover, from an economic perspective, our approach generally results in cost savings for our clients over the long-term because issues can be spotted and addressed before they become legal problems. This approach is highly-valued by our clients. Our services include: wage and hour/FLSA proceedings, employee benefits and medical leave act issues, drafting and negotiation of employment and severance agreements, defense in unfair labor practices, and benefit issues.
Estate Planning and Succession
WOH HELPS FAMILY FARMS PLAN FOR THE FUTURE. WOH designs sophisticated and personalized estate and business succession plans for our individual private clients, assist them and their fiduciaries and advisors in the implementation of their plans and compliance with often complex rules and regulations, and provide experienced legal representation in the litigation and resolution of any challenges or controversies. Our attorneys have experience in complex areas of estate planning including the important income and transfer tax consequences of this practice area. We prepare wills and testamentary trusts, revocable and irrevocable lifetime trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills. The estate planning practice focuses on tax reduction strategies as well as personal issues confronting our clients in structuring their estate plans. Where appropriate, we will recommend advanced estate planning vehicles such as irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, charitable remainder or lead trusts, and family limited liability companies or partnerships. We also provide advice and planning on the disposition of retirement benefits and life insurance proceeds through appropriate beneficiary designations.
Corporate, Business and Commercial Transactions
WOH HELPS FARMS WITH COMPLEX BUSINESS AND TRANSACTIONAL MATTERS. Our attorneys represent agricultural clients in corporate formation, not-for-profit/tax exemption designation matters, sales tax compliance, acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, securities and private equity transactions, financings, debt restructurings and other commercial transactions. We also handle an array of general corporate matters, including SEC and regulatory compliance, corporate governance practices, executive benefits and compensations plans, proxy solicitations, new business ventures, and technology and trademark licensing.