Our firm has had a long tradition of providing legal services to the agricultural businesses, food manufacturers, and dairy farmers and cooperatives that have played such a vital role in the agribusiness sector of our economy.

The multidisciplinary team of attorneys that comprises the Agriculture, Dairy and Food Practice Area offer legal counseling along the entire continuum of agribusiness, including day-to-day operating issues that affect all companies as well as the specialized legal needs impacting providers in the industry.

From the farmlands of our region to the European and Latin American international markets in which some of our local products are sold, the legal services we provide impact a vast array of issues in agricultural production, marketing, and distribution.

Whether the issues involve a plot of local land or a legal entanglement in a distant corner of the globe, we are prepared to assist in providing quality counseling to members of an industry that continues to play such a crucial role in our regional economy.

Our Clients

  • Dairy, Agricultural, and Livestock Farmers
  • Cooperatives – Producer, Federated, Supply and Marketing
  • Food and Beverage Processors and Manufacturers
  • Brewers and Alcoholic-Beverage Manufacturers
  • Product Development/Research Groups
  • Banks and Other Agribusiness Lenders
  • Vineyard and Orchard Owners/Operators
  • Wineries
  • Trade Associations
  • Commodity Traders
  • International Agribusiness Joint Ventures
  • Marketing Agencies-in-Common

Our Experience

General Business. Our firm provides a comprehensive range of legal services designed to assist clients in the negotiation, implementation, and operation of their business ventures. Matters that we have handled that are unique to the agribusiness industry include:

  • Negotiating and drafting co-packaging agreements with brand warranty and protection provisions, labeling and product regulatory compliance provisions, and appropriate indemnification provisions.
  • Managing food product recall situations, including dealing with the Food and Drug Administration and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
  • Negotiating and drafting equipment purchase agreements involving the installation of major production line equipment, addressing ongoing maintenance and service programs, line management issues, and perishability issues.
  • Negotiating and drafting letters of credit with U.S. and foreign banks for the delivery of perishable food products.
  • Structuring, developing, negotiating and drafting agreements for new product development ventures, including technology ventures associated with long shelf-life products.
  • Negotiating and drafting product supply agreements involving the purchase of ingredients, including commodities.
  • Dealing with agreements involving price protection techniques and hedges for purposes of protecting ingredient and inventory purchases of commodities.
  • Negotiating and drafting agreements with advertising agencies for general advertisements and specific brand development and image development programs, including labeling and “look and feel” matters, and successfully handling disputes between clients and advertising agencies regarding these matters.
  • Developing, structuring, and implementing programs and agreements to secure alternate, less-expensive energy sources for food production operations and facilities.
  • Working with governmental entities on lease/financing programs, as well as matters involving tax abatement, municipal condemnation, Empire Zone benefits and unique aspects of environmental protection associated with requirements for food production facilities.
  • Advising and implementing solutions regarding issues of cooperative ownership and governance.
  • Structuring, advising, negotiating and implementing tax-free combination of cooperative corporations.
  • Negotiating land purchase and facility construction agreements, with environmental approvals for major facilities construction.  
  • Advising regarding affirmative action plans, wage and hour regulations, employment law discrimination, retirement plans, executive compensation plans, union grievances and union collective bargaining agreement matters.

Intellectual Property. The firm has extensive experience in all facets of intellectual property services to the agribusiness industry, including:

  • Serving as trademark counsel to multinational food manufacturers and a number of smaller food and beverage companies. The firm is responsible for trademark registrations and applications on behalf of its clients in more than 80 foreign countries, and routinely provides preliminary and comprehensive opinions on the availability of trademarks in the food industry.
  • Providing intellectual property litigation services in federal and state courts across the nation, including the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Our premier team of intellectual property litigators represent parties whose intellectual property has been infringed upon, in addition to defending charges of infringement.
  • Negotiating and drafting licensing and technology transfer agreements associated with joint product development. Representative technologies include the preparation, formulation, packaging, and aseptic processing of fruit and dairy based dietary supplements, drinks, and beverages. We have negotiated technology and manufacturing rights for dietary supplement drinks, including enteric compositions.
  • Negotiating and drafting confidentiality agreements, with small start-up companies as well as large established companies, for product development projects and for co-packaging/manufacturing arrangements.
  • Negotiating and drafting employee trade secret and confidentiality agreements, and implementing internal confidentiality/trade secret protection programs to safeguard our clients and satisfy third-party confidentiality requirements.
  • Providing counsel on both branded and private-label products.


This website presents only general information not intended as legal advice. Although we encourage calls, letters and emails from prospective clients, please keep in mind that merely contacting Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Confidential information should not be sent to HSE until you have been notified in writing by HSE that a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Information sent to us before then may not be treated as confidential by HSE or the court.

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