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Attention Michigan Horse Dealers: Understand How Michigan’s New Dealer Law Affects You

On October 1, 2012, a new Michigan law went into affect that has implications for certain people or businesses who engage in selling or transporting horses and livestock in Michigan.  The law, HB 5784, was designed to control the spread of infectious diseases of livestock and animals in Michigan.  It now requires those engaged in the buying, receiving, selling, transporting, exchanging negotiating or who solicit sale, resale, exchange, or transportation of livestock to be licensed bonded by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

The License Requirement

The new law states in Section 2:

“A dealer, broker, agent, or livestock trucker shall not engage in or carry on the business of buying, receiving, selling, exchanging, transporting, negotiating, or soliciting the sale, resale, exchange, transportation, or transfer of any animals within the state unless the person is licensed as provided in this act.  A dealer, broker, agent, or livestock trucker is responsible for acts performed or contracts made by any person employed by the dealer, broker, agent, or livestock trucker in buying, receiving, selling, exchanging, transporting, negotiating, or soliciting the sale, resale, exchange, transportation, or transfer of livestock.”

Don’t seek licensure unnecessarily.  Read and understand the law first.  A brief summary follows.

Who is Affected by the Law?

The law defines “animals” or “livestock” to include “horses, ponies, mules, cattle, and others.”  It defines a “dealer” or “broker” as “a person that, as a principal or agent, engages in the business of buying, receiving, selling, exchanging, buying for slaughter, negotiating, or soliciting sale, resale, exchange, transportation, or transfer of animals.”  It exempts persons who are “permanently discontinuing the business of farming, breeding, or feeding animals.”  It also exempts “a person that sells livestock that have been raised on the premises of the person.”  Those who buy or receive animals for breeding, grazing, and feeding as well as the sale and disposal after a feeding and grazing period of not less than 21 days are also exempt.

Who is Not Affected?

Among the exemptions are occasional consignment sales that are sponsored and conducted by a breed association, 4-H, or FFA group, county fair or youth fair.

The law specifically provides that a “buying station” “does not include a livestock auction.”  It also provides that a “livestock trucker” does not include a person who hauls livestock “on an occasional basis for persons participating in a livestock exhibition, fair, trail ride, youth livestock event, or similar activity.”  Exemptions also include “hauling livestock on an incidental basis in connection with another business, such as a veterinary practice or a stable operation, which is operated by that person and which does not ordinarily involve the sale of livestock” as well as “[h]auling livestock for another person fewer than 6 times within the preceding 12 months.”

How Do You Get Licensed?

Contact the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

How Much is a License?

Permits can be purchased through the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  The new law provides that annual, non-refundable fees range from $25 for a “livestock trucker” to $400 for a “livestock auction operator.”  Licenses become effective October 1 of each year and expire on September 30.

Other Requirements in the Law

The law imposes several requirements for livestock “auctions, collection points, or buying stations” such as pen and building construction, flooring, manure storage, auction rings, docks, pens, and scales.  The law also has provisions affecting watering of animals and flooring.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Noncompliance with the law could involve steep penalties.  The law provides for a total limit of fines of up to $25,000.

Categories: Contracts, Regulatory

Photo of Julie I. Fershtman

is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:

National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants. 

U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability. 

IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”

National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics. 

Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”

2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”

November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”

Honors & Recognitions

Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee

"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council

"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership

"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council

"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association

"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association 

What our Equine Law Services can Provide

Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.

Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).

Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals,  businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.

Representing and advising insurers on  coverage and policy language as well as litigation;

Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.

Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 


Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.

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