Right to Farm trumps Nuisance suit

The Right to Farm Act prevents nuisance suits against established farm operations.

Here is a reasonable protective statute, Gary Baise, our colleague who defends farming and ag interests, sent me info that the 7th US Circuit court upheld the constitutionality of the Indiana Right to Farm legislation. I am not sure the 7th Circuit was right on this one.


Here’s the news on the 7th Circuit opinion


A close look at the Statute makes me wonder–the protection of farming may, in some minds, not apply to a change in the nature of the farm of a major kind. This case involved a change of the farm in 2007 from a row crop farm to a major pig operation with 2,800 pigs after the suing neighbors had moved in and were established. I don’t read the Farm protection act to be so broadly protective. For example, if I have 80 acres of row crops with a few head of cattle does that mean I am protected if I change it to a 80 acre feedlot?

Feedlots for cattle and pigs can’t help but be smelly and the protections statute doesn’t allow just any change to be considered protected, as I read it.

6 responses to “Right to Farm trumps Nuisance suit

  1. I agree. This was a “major impact” change, not just dust from harrowing or something. Besides, in point of fact the hogs were not “farming” but ranching – a change of type that should trigger oversight.

  2. Rich Kozlovich

    If someone didn’t grow up on a farm it might mean they fail to understand farming is a business, and just like any other business economics plays a major roll in deciding what foods they’re going to produce. Going from row farming to animal farming goes with the territory.

    Personally I’m sick and tired of these urbanites that move to the country and demand everyone live like all the other urbanites. They’re demanding, selfish, arrogant and clueless, as to where they’re food comes from and how it’s produced.

    If these pampered cry babies weren’t prepared to deal with country living they should have stayed in the cities and suburbs. That’s what they were built for. If they don’t like it let them move back. Original inhabitants of these rural areas won’t miss them a bit, and depending on how the taxes are structured in their state, they may even be a burden of the original inhabitants, as it is in some Ohio counties where all the rich professionals pay income taxes to the county where they work and not where they live and use services.

    One more thing! Let’s stop siding with those who are demanding, selfish, arrogant and clueless.

  3. I am not against a farm protection bill. I grew up 1 mile west of a cattle feedlot operation In Iowa. when the wind blew from the East it was an eye opening experience, but Mr. Greg’s cattle operation was there before us.

    I can see an objection even by farmers if someone goes to one of those really big mega dairy operations or some other dramatically different operations. But my instincts are to keep property rights paramount.

    Don’t get stupid, farming operations can conceivably be a nuisance in any sense of the word.

    We cannot ignore that property right to avoid smelly obnoxious operations just because they are farm related operations.

    Do not force me to kick you ass. I understand what you are saying, but an operation that transforms a row crop and small live animal operation to a large feedlot is, in spite of what the 7 th circuit says, not something that was anticipated as a protected property activity in the context of the law of NUISANCE>

  4. This time Doc, you and I do not agree. I also grew up a farm boy so I also know about rural life. It has been my experience that life in a rural environment often involves “the fragrance of nature”. I think one cannot ‘reasonably expect’ status quo in a farming/ranching environment. As stated before, it’s a business and the farmer/ranch must have the leeway to run as he needs to be successful. You have the same rights as he.

  5. John–The issue of whether nuisance protection will apply when a farmer makes changes in his or her operation is one that is treated differently in the various right to farm statutes across the country. The Indiana statute, at issue in this case, is quite broad in this regard, deeming that certain changes–including changing from one operation to another, changing technology, or a change in size–does not constitute a “significant change” and, therefore, the right to farm act is still applicable even when such changes are made. Here is a link to the statutory language: http://new.nationalaglawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/assets/righttofarm/indiana.pdf

    • Thanks for your note. The Lawyer on the case for the farmer is a friend of mine, Gary Baise–DC big shot lawyer for ag interests, and former hisownself. He, of course reads the statute as broadly protective of farm operations. However, Gary and you and I all know that my example is not too far fetched, an 80 acre feed lot.

      For example these new major dairy operations approach that kind of a change and they are becoming much more numerous in Wisconsin, for example. I would say that mega dairy operations create a nuisance situation, even if the previous operation was dairy of the smaller more customary variety.

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