418 F.3d 847 (8th Cir. 2005), 04-2437, Siebrasse v. United States Dept. of Agriculture

Docket Nº:04-2437.
Citation:418 F.3d 847
Party Name:Delbert SIEBRASSE, Plaintiff--Appellant, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE; Donald Siebrasse, Defendants--Appellees.
Case Date:August 10, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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418 F.3d 847 (8th Cir. 2005)

Delbert SIEBRASSE, Plaintiff--Appellant,

v.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE; Donald Siebrasse, Defendants--Appellees.

No. 04-2437.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

August 10, 2005

Submitted: March 14, 2005.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Rory King, argued, Aberdeen, SD, for appellant.

Mark Salter, argued, Sioux Falls, SD, for Appellee USDA.

Gregory J. Erlandson, argued, Rapid City, SD, for Appellee Donald Siebrasse.

Before MURPHY, BYE, and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

BYE, Circuit Judge.

Delbert Siebrasse appeals the district court's1 order affirming the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) refusal to restore two sections of land he inherited from his father to the Production Flexibility Contract (PFC) program.2 We affirm.

I

The following facts are undisputed.3 Delbert and Donald Siebrasse are the sons of Henry Siebrasse. Henry was a farmer in Potter County, South Dakota, who, at the time he died on May 1, 1999, owned 2,720 acres of farmland. In 1979, using Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) Form 211, Henry executed a power of attorney appointing Donald his agent for purposes of participation in USDA farm programs. The form stated " [t]his power of attorney shall remain in full force and effect until written notice of its revocation has been duly served upon the Potter County ASCS County Committee." The form remained on file with the Potter County ASCS office and was used by Donald to manage his father's affairs with the USDA until Henry died.

In 1991, Henry executed a durable power of attorney in favor of Donald. The new power of attorney limited Donald's ability to sell Henry's land but did not limit his ability to manage Henry's land for purposes of USDA programs. The USDA was never notified of the 1991 durable power of attorney.

In 1996, in conjunction with the Agricultural Market Transition Act Program (AMTA), the USDA undertook a review of all power of attorney forms on file and sent out notices to all farm program participants. The Potter County Farm Service

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Agency (FSA)4 sent Henry a notice, in care of Donald, indicating the ASCS-211 on file allowed Donald to enroll his land in AMTA programs, and if Henry wished to change or revoke the form he should contact the office. Neither Henry or Donald responded to the letter.

Delbert contends Henry was incompetent by 1996 and unable to manage his affairs. Delbert further contends Donald engaged in mismanagement of Henry's lands for his own benefit and purposefully withheld information from his father. The district court, however, pursuant to the undisputed statement of material facts, concluded Henry was not declared incompetent until August 13, 1998.

In 1996, Henry leased his land to Donald and agreed Donald would receive 66.6% of all farm program payments. In 1997, Donald enrolled two sections of Henry's land into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Under the applicable USDA regulations, putting the two sections into CRP rendered them ineligible for participation in the PFC program. Conversely, taking two of Henry's sections out of the PFC program allowed Donald to reallocate those PFC acres to his own land. Delbert contends Donald's "self-dealing" and reallocation of PFC acres to his own land was fraudulent and done in violation of USDA regulations.

When Henry died in May 1999, the two sections of land were bequeathed to Delbert. The USDA advised Delbert he could leave the land in CRP but he chose to terminate the contracts and asked the USDA to restore eligibility for participation in the PFC program. In January 2002, the Potter County FSA denied the request. Delbert appealed unsuccessfully to the State FSA Committee, the National Appeals Division of the USDA and the Director. After exhausting his administrative appeals, Delbert appealed to the district court which granted the USDA's and Donald's motions for summary judgment and affirmed the agency decision.

In this appeal, Delbert argues Donald's transfer of the land into CRP in 1997 was fraudulent. First, he contends Henry was incompetent at the time he entered into the lease with Donald. Additionally, Delbert argues Donald rendered...

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