State Right-to-Farm Provisions
National Agricultural Law Center
All fifty states have enacted right-to-farm statutes. These laws are meant to protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits in the case where an individual moves to an area where a farming operation previously exists or in cases where the farm has existed for a period of time substantially unchanged before the lawsuit is filed. In earlier nuisance suits, defendant farmers saw mixed success defending these nuisance claims with the common law defense that the plaintiff “came to the nuisance.” As a result, legislatures have responded and provided statutory protection to farmers to provide a defense to nuisance suits of this kind. These statutes are referred to as right-to-farm statutes. It is important to note that while all fifty states have enacted right-to-farm statutes that there exists substantial variation across the country and the purpose of this paper is to give a broad overview of some of the major trends in this type of legislation.
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