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Late in 2020, we had a North Carolina Hog Farm Litigation settlement that ended several lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown, LLC and Smithfield Foods. In May 2020, neighboring landowners filed a new set of federal lawsuits against Murphy-Brown and Smithfield, the same defendants in the prior lawsuits. Similar to the previous lawsuits, neighbors sued the companies that the farms grow for, not the actual hog farms themselves. In these lawsuits, the neighbors used legal theories based on trespass and negligence and not around nuisance. Recently, the federal judge hearing the lawsuit allowed it to continue and ruled the state’s right-to-farm law did not apply, though providing a defense in this case to the trespass and negligence claims. The judge also dismissed two other claims brought by the neighbors.
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.
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.
Image by Ken Lane and shows Oxbow Bend Sunrise in the Grand Teton National Park
This post is not legal advice.
Recently, a federal court of appeals reversed a lower court decision involving a data trespass law passed by Wyoming in 2015. This new trespass law created criminal and civil penalties when a person trespassed to collect resource data on private property. The court of appeals concluded that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protected the collection of data and the new trespass law was unconstitutional. Wyoming’s new trespass law did not directly speak to protecting agricultural operations; many have viewed this law as a form of an ag-gag law. As we have discussed before, although it is unconstitutional for states to adopt these laws, producers still have options to protect their operations. Continue reading →