North Carolina State Lawmakers Address Hog Farm Liability

Associated Press writer Jonathan Drew reported yesterday that, “Legislation to limit farms’ liability in lawsuits over animal waste smells passed the [North Carolina] state House Monday after a significant change that will keep it from applying to current lawsuits against a large hog producer.

“After a lengthy debate, the House narrowly voted to add language to specify the legislation would not apply to any pending cases. The chamber then passed the amended bill as a whole, sending it to the state Senate.

The legislation would limit penalties that a jury or judge could impose against hog farms or other agricultural operations in lawsuits accusing them of creating a nuisance for neighbors. The farms’ liability would be limited to the lost rental or property value plaintiffs can prove was the result of the nuisance. The liability couldn’t exceed a piece of property’s market value.”

The AP article noted that, “One of the bill’s sponsors, Republican Rep. Jimmy Dixon of Duplin County, argued that the bill was needed to protect the network of contract farmers in North Carolina who raise the hogs for large pork producers.

“Dixon, himself a longtime farmer, argued that many of the allegations that the farms create a nuisance are ‘at best exaggerations and at worst outright lies.'”

Mr. Drew added that, “Dixon represents a territory dotted with livestock operations in the country’s No. 3 hog state by gross income. Hogs were a $21 billion industry nationwide in 2015, with North Carolina operations racking up $2.3 billion of that, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.”

Recall that Iowa recently passed legislation regarding livestock operations and nuisance lawsuits, background on that state law is available at this BartellPowell update from March 24th.

And an Illinois state lawmaker also introduced legislation recently regarding large livestock operation waste issues.

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