Joel grew up on a peanut, cotton, watermelon, swine and cattle farm in Abbeville, Georgia. Instructed by those experiences on the farm, Joel now leads HBS's food and agriculture industry group. Joel counsels farm and agribusiness clients, both institutional and family-owned, during every stage of farm land and agricultural operations transactions, including negotiations, due diligence, closing, and post-closing integration and operations. Joel also provides regulatory guidance and litigation services in the food, agriculture, timber, and energy spaces, including representing clients in front of the United States Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and the Georgia Public Service Commission. A member of the firm’s management committee, Joel has also lead commercial and real estate transactions in the healthcare space.
Joel currently serves as the President of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association and is a member of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean's Advisory Council. A former State President and National Vice President for the National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America), Joel was twice appointed by former Governor Sonny Perdue to the Agricultural Education Advisory Commission. In August 2010, Georgia Trend listed him as one of the Movers and Shakers in the Georgia Agribusiness Industry. In 2011, Commissioner Gary W. Black appointed Joel to serve on the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness task force for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Joel was recognized in 2011 with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association Young Alumni Achievement Award.
Joel is active in the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a lifetime member of the National FFA Alumni Association, a member of the American Agricultural Law Association, and a member of the Agriculture Law Section and Animal Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association. Joel has been a guest speaker for the American Agricultural Law Association, the State Bar of Georgia Agriculture Law Section, the University of Georgia School of Law Annual Red Clay Conference, the Georgia Young Farmer Association, Georgia Farm Bureau, the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetables, and the Georgia Agritourism Association. Joel and his wife are members of Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur, Georgia.
Joel is the leader of the HBS Agriculture Practice Group, which provides a full range of transactional, litigation, and advisory services for farmers and agribusinesses. Joel has significant experience in assisting clients in acquiring and divesting farmland and related agricultural assets, including packing and processing facilities and trucking operations. Such transactions regularly implicate a wide range of HBS’s expertise, including water rights and the associated regulatory schemes, property tax abatements under programs such as Georgia’s Conservation Use Valuation Assessments (“CUVA”), agricultural exemptions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Fair Standards Labor Act, and various food laws such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Joel regularly drafts operational agreements, including supply agreements and farm and hunting leases. Joel has represented a variety of clients in civil and administrative proceedings involving the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (“PACA”), food adulteration, seed warranties, farm partitions, wrongful farm foreclosure, and contract disputes. Joel’s background, knowledge and understanding of agronomic principles, commodity markets, and overall industry practices assists in providing a positive outcome for HBS's clients in a variety of settings.
Joel is an experienced civil litigator, focusing his current litigation practice primarily on issues in food and agriculture, real estate, energy and utilities, and construction. Joel regularly represents clients in proceedings arising out of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (“PACA”). Joel has handled cliams for individuals and companies arising out of food adulteration, seed warranties, farm partitions, farm foreclosures, indemnities, and contract disputes. Joel has experience representing contractors, subcontractors, developers, and insurance companies in various construction design and defect, delay, change orders and extra work, systems engineering, contract compliance, insurance coverage, personal injury, and property damage matters.
A portion of Joel's practice involves the representation of energy and telecommunication clients. He regularly provides transactional and regulatory compliance counsel to an energy service provider in the drafting of customer terms and conditions and other end-user contracts. Joel has represented clients with matters before the Georgia Public Service Commission, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Working with others in the firm’s government affairs groups, Joel represents the Georgia Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association before the Georgia General Assembly. Joel also provides subject matter expertise and strategic counsel to the HBS’s government affairs team on a variety of agricultural and energy related matters.
Joel has assisted clients in the acquisition and divestiture of farmland and timberland, packing and processing facilities, livestock operations, storage warehouses, and other commercial properties. Acting both as local and lead counsel, Joel has drafted and negotiated purchase and sale agreements for diverse types of real properties, both in rural and suburban areas. Joel assembles the right team of HBS subject matter experts and leads that group through due diligence (including title, survey, zoning, and environmental matters), closing, and integration. Joel has also litigated matters involving partition suits and real estate transactions, including one of the leading cases on wrongful farmland foreclosure in Georgia: Clark v. AgGeorgia Farm Credit ACA, 333 Ga. App. 73 (2015).
Joel drafts and negotiates a variety of agreements, including: asset purchase agreements, supply contracts, product guaranties and indemnities, hunting and farmland leases, commercial leases, cold storage agreements, water sharing agreements, and arbitration provisions. Joel prides himself on first understanding the business objectives of the transaction and then tailoring a solution that protects the interest of his client in the manner most likely to ensure successful completion of the deal.