Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just in from the Idaho Statehouse

Right to Farm Bill Held in Committee, For time being

Boise--The Right to Farm Act, or House Bill 166 was held in committee until next Wednesday. Representative Ken Andrus moved to hold the bill so members could do more research on the legislation.

House Bill 166 would extend farm practices covered under the definition of “agricultural” and would tighten up ordinances that define agricultural activities. Under the Act, if groups try to stop an operation under a “nuisance” claim and it was found the facility was recognized and permitted, the opposition group would have to pay legal fees.

Representative Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) had concerns with proposed changes to make the bill 'passable'. Boyle stated point blank that when farmers are sued, they have to pay attorney fees to defend themselves. "Why should farmers have to pay to defend themselves? These opposition groups fund their industry from frivolous lawsuits, they need the lawsuits to stay in business."

With encroaching subdivisions moving closer to farm operations over the past 4 decades, almost all 50 states have passed right-to-farm legislation of varying degrees. The laws were intended to protect family farms from nuisance lawsuits as long as the farms were established before subdivisions were put in place and as long as the farm’s activities did not “jeopardize public health and safety.”

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