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Faces of Local: Bill Durr

Bill Durr of Ward and Smith, P.A.

ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talk with attorney Bill Durr of Ward and Smith, P.A., which is a sponsor of the 2020 Business of Farming Conference. Durr will co-lead a conference workshop, A Decade of Farming and the Legal Issues You’ll Face Along the Way.

How is Ward and Smith involved with local food and farms?

We are involved with local food and farms in many ways. We provide legal representation to farms and farmers not only in Western North Carolina but across the state. This includes both farming specific legal advice (think USDA/FSA issues), business and HR advice, as well as estate planning and administration services for farmers and their families. Our litigation team assists farmers in a variety of disputes, including right of way and other land use disputes, contract litigation, and even personal injury cases. We also represent restaurants and other purveyors who prominently and proudly feature local food products.
 
You’ll be presenting a workshop on legal issues in farming, as well as hosting informal one-on-one information sessions. What are some topics you’ll be discussing?

Our workshop presentation this year is a bit different from what we have done in past years. This year we will focus on a fictional (but real enough) Western North Carolina farm family as they reflect back on the legal and business challenges they faced over 10 years of farming. We will explore what they did well and where they could have made better decisions. We hope that along this journey, our audience gains valuable information and insight about how they may improve their farming operations. The topics we will cover include business formation, labor and employment, litigation (how to avoid it and what to do if you cannot resolve a dispute), and estate planning/succession planning issues.
 
You’ve been involved with the Business of Farming Conference for nearly a decade. What are some things you’ve learned by being involved?

First and foremost, we have learned so much about the myriad of ways the Business of Farming Conference helps local farmers and the entire farming/local food community. Being involved for as long as we have, we also have seen the tremendous growth in the local farming community’s participation in the event. We also have come to appreciate the cooperative and friendly nature of everyone involved in the conference. During the conference we always enjoy seeing old friends and making new acquaintances. It is both a privilege and an honor to be involved with such a fantastic and worthwhile event.
 
Do you have a favorite farm or local food experience?

Having grown up on a small farm, my favorite farm or local food experience happens anytime I am able to get on a farm. From those experiences, some my best recent experiences have been local farm dinners. There is nothing more satisfying than enjoying great food that was grown and harvested a few yards from where it is prepared and eaten. We are truly blessed to be able to call western North Carolina home.