New South Wales Considers Right-to-Farm Law and Enhanced Trespass Penalties

Rural scene in New South Wales Australia. Image by Indigo Skies Photography.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.  Note: this post is based on the First Print of the bill and not subsequent prints.

            The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has recently seen a bill introduced in Parliament that would create an American-style right-to-farm law. This law, if enacted, would create a nuisance defense to NSW farms qualifying under the law. At the same time, the bill would increase the penalties for trespass that results in released livestock. Trespass penalties increase to a possible three-year jail term for trespassers. The debate in this legislation is ongoing, and we will have to wait to see if this legislation passes.

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Frequently Updated Questions: Hey, Paul Does Growing Hemp Qualify for the Right-to-Farm Defense?

Industrial hemp being grown in Pennsylvania (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

The article is not a substitute for legal advice..

          The 2018 Farm Bill allows for more growers to grow industrial hemp. A farmer looking to add industrial hemp on fields creates the possibility of conflicts between neighboring landowners. The neighbors may not understand that industrial hemp is now legal to grow or other concerns. Industrial hemp is now a legal commodity and growers would potentially fall under Maryland’s right-to-farm (RTF) law. Industrial hemp growers would be eligible for the nuisance defense in the RTF law.

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Court of Appeals Finds Indiana Hog Farm Entitled to Right-to-Farm Defense, Upholding Its Constitutionality

Image of hogs in modern hog facility. Image is by Kevin Chang via flickr.com.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

            In 2019, we continue to see decisions involving the application of the right-to-farm law (RTF) defense in a few states.  Recently, the Court of Appeals of Indiana upheld a trial court’s decision applying the state’s RTF law.  In this case, the RTF law applied to claims that a neighboring hog farm was creating a nuisance.  Although over the past 18 months, we have seen decisions involving RTF laws not applying to agricultural companies being hit with large damage verdicts, it is crucial to remember that in many cases, the RTF defense continues to apply and prevent large verdicts.

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Recent Nuisance Suits Involving Farms Highlight Why Farms Should Understand How a Right-to-Farm Defense Operates

Cover Crop Agriculture in Frederick County, Md.

Liquid manure being applied by a tractor a field in Maryland.  Photo by Matt Rath/Chesapeake Bay Program

This article should not be considered legal advice.

Over the course of 2018, you have probably seen the stories involving nuisance suits brought by neighboring landowners against hog farms in North Carolina, leading to large verdicts against Smithfield Foods. Similar lawsuits are going on around the country involving neighbors claiming nearby hog farms are nuisances. In many cases, the state’s right-to-farm law should provide a possible defense to the farm, but the farm needs to meet all the requirements in the right-to-farm law to use the defense. Understanding the requirements can assist in maintaining the right-to-farm defense. Continue reading

Right-to-Farm Law Does Not Protect Landowner From Nuisance Caused by Septage Lagoons

 

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Farmland in Alaska by Michael Hayes via flickr.com

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

Today, I want to highlight a recent right-to-farm law decision out of Alaska. The Supreme Court of Alaska, in Riddle v. Lanser, held that the state’s right-to-farm law did not protect a landowner who was storing septage on agricultural property. Many readers might be thinking that this is a bad time for right-to-farm laws, especially after the jury verdict involving a North Carolina hog farm, but this case highlights that right-to-farm laws do not protect those not really involved in agriculture before becoming a nuisance. Continue reading

Right-to-Farm Law Does Not Apply in a Recent North Carolina Hog Farm Dispute

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Hogs in hog barn.  Image by Kevin Chang via flickr.com

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

News broke recently of a $50 million jury verdict* for damages caused to neighbors of a large hog farm in North Carolina. The jury found that the hog farm was a nuisance to neighboring landowners. When many of us this saw this verdict, you may have had a similar thought to me: shouldn’t a state’s right-to-farm law should provide the hog farm a defense in this case. Before the jury’s verdict, the federal district judge hearing the case ruled that North Carolina’s right-to-farm law would not apply in this case. The judge ruled that there had not been a change in the condition in the area that would have allowed the right-to-farm law to act as a defense to the nuisance claims. Continue reading

Right-to-Farm Constitutional Amendment Did Not Create A Constitutional Right to Grow Pot

 

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Image by Neal Wellons of central Missouri farm showing grain bins with a grain trailer in the background.

 

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

In 2014, Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment creating a new constitutional amendment to protect the right to farm and ranch in the state of Missouri. This amendment is broader protection than the state’s right-to-farm law that just protects an agricultural operation against nuisance lawsuits. But in approving the constitutional amendment did Missouri voters create a new right to grow and cultivate marijuana in Missouri? A few criminal defendants had tried to claim the new constitutional amendment preempted state drug law related to growing marijuana. The Supreme Court of Missouri recently held that the right-to-farm constitutional amendment did not create a new right to grow marijuana in the state (Missouri v. Shanklin). Continue reading

Court of Appeals Finds State’s Right-to-Farm Law is Unconstitutional As Applied

 

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Source USGS via Wikicommons

 

This post is not legal advice.

All fifty states have some version of a right-to-farm law that provides defenses to agricultural producers for lawsuits they are committing a nuisance in his/her operations. In November 2016, the Court of Appeals of Iowa upholds a lower court’s ruling that Iowa’s right-to-farm law is unconstitutional as applied to a neighbor claiming a neighboring hog farm is a nuisance and awarding damages to the neighbor. For those unaware, finding a state’s right-to-law unconstitutional as applied to a neighbor is a unique to Iowa. Iowa’s courts have found the state’s right-to-farm law is unconstitutional when applied to neighbors there first. At this point, no states have followed Iowa’s lead and found their state’s right-to-farm laws unconstitutional as applied to neighbors there first. Continue reading