Dan Oulton blends his agricultural experience with commercial law.
Not every lawyer starts his day with an early morning meeting about irrigation systems and ends it in the wee small hours seeding oats; but Dan Oulton is not just any lawyer.
A member of Burchell MacDougall’s agricultural law team, Dan holds degrees from both the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and Dalhousie University’s law school. He’s also a fifth generation farmer in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.
A rubber mat sits in the corner of his Wolfville office for the days when he wears his work boots off the farm; he gets the issues his clients face because he deals with those same issues himself.
“I’ve been a farmer longer than I’ve been a lawyer, so I’ve been on the other side of the desk,” he explains, “I’ve experienced the frustration of working with a firm that simply doesn’t understand the business of farming.”
An agricultural lawyer offers the same services as lawyers who focus on other areas of law, but with strong understanding of how the business of agriculture works. And the agricultural law team at Burchell MacDougall has that understanding, and more.
They understand that the running of the farm comes first. “When a farmer calls me up and asks me to draft a property purchase agreement while they’re doing silage for the next three days, it gets done,” he says, “They still have to come in to sign the papers, but the process starts from that phone call.”
And we know our farming clients aren’t in this to cash out and retire to the Caribbean,” Dan explains, “It’s a multi-generational business that passes from parent to child to grandchild. Farmers think long-term.”
It can take years to work out the all details of a plan to hand the farm over to the next generation, as there are a lot of variables to consider, including things like quotas and farmland values. “For instance, for supply management operations with quotas (such as chicken, dairy and egg farms), they’re a valuable asset that need to be assessed as they are passed on to the next generation.”
“I’m a lawyer so I can be a farmer, and so I can help farmers,” Dan goes on, “And I recognize that it’s impossible to fit farming into the traditional business mould.”
“There’s no such thing as an uneducated farmer; they’re savvy and sophisticated business people who expect sterling service and knowledgeable advice from someone who understands what they do. If you’re going to play in agriculture, you’ve got to know the rules.” And Dan Oulton knows those rules, inside out and backwards.
This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like further information, you should consult a lawyer. For more information on Burchell MacDougall’s agricultural practice, visit www.burchellmacdougall.com/practice-areas/farm-resources.