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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Bill would limit nuisance lawsuits against ag interests

March 11, 2013

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— Already seeking repeal of corporate farming restrictions, Gov. Sam Brownback's administration on Monday pushed for passage of a bill that would limit nuisance lawsuits against agricultural operations.

Chelsea Good, an attorney with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, said Senate Bill 168 was needed "to provide an important added layer of protection for farmers and ranchers from unwarranted nuisance lawsuits."

But Paul Johnson, policy analyst with the Kansas Rural Center, urged the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to delay action on the measure and appoint a panel to study this bill and Senate Bill 191, which would alleviate restrictions on corporate farming, before the 2014 legislative session.

"While agriculture is vital to Kansas, do farmers have a greater fundamental right to expand their operations over the `property rights' of their neighbors?" Johnson asked. He said the two bills represent fundamental public policy changes "that will shape the future of Kansas' agriculture and impact the qualify of life in Kansas."

But Good, with the state agriculture department, said there are groups that have used nuisance lawsuits to restrict and, in some cases, shut down agriculture production.

But Good said she knew of no such movement in Kansas. Johnson, with the Kansas Rural Center, said there was no testimony on an increase in nuisance lawsuits, "so why are we rushing this bill through?"

Under the measure, agricultural operations could "reasonably" expand, decrease or change operations as long as they comply with applicable local, state and federal laws. The legislation also limits damages that farms may face under nuisance claims.

Under questioning from members of the committee, Good said if a farmer wanted to change the land use to a more intense operation, the farmer would have to comply with all applicable environmental laws.

In addition to the agriculture department, the measure was supported by the Kansas Pork Association, Kansas Livestock Association, and other farm groups.

Comments

frank mcguinness 1 year, 9 months ago

Advice for Kansas farmers.
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.

costello 1 year, 9 months ago

That was the first thing that came to my mind. Can Ms. Good give us some specific examples of "unwarranted nuisance lawsuits"?

I have farmland behind my home. If they decide to turn it into a factory farm, who's going to compensate me for the loss of value to my property? Would my objections be construed as merely an attempt "to restrict [or] ... shut down agriculture production"?

Is anyone looking out for my interests, or would I have to scrape together the money to buy my own politicians?

sturgen 1 year, 9 months ago

Start Scraping...you are on your own with these folks. Unless of course you could convince them that they will be teaching evolution and environmental science classes at the farm.

Robert Greenwood 1 year, 9 months ago

Don't blame the Kansas farmers. This is only about putting the family farmer out of business.

This is about the corporatization of the traditional rural lifestyle by large "intensive" animal factories. Smithfield Foods or remember Murphy Farms. Neither our idea of a Kansas farmer. Intensive pig operations hundreds of thousands of pigs at one location. One single hog CAFO had over 700,000 sows. Cattle feedlots with over 50,000 head made up about 1/3 of fed cattle in the US in 2012. Cattle feedlots, like those in Nebraska can have 100,000 or more head.

When your new "neighbor" is a large corporation and decides to upon an expansion into "intenstive" piggeries or a CAFO confined animal feeding operation and you wish to take action to reduce or halt the stink, take action to reduce the pollution.

Is this the economic development the Governor and his large corporation supporters invision for Kansas. I recall when waste companies looked and Kansas and wanted to move into county and county in Kansas, ship solid waste by truck and/or train from urban areas in urban states to Kansas.I predict these corporate bottomfeeders will be back to Kansas since Kansas is now open for business and seeks "economic development."

Do you want a corporate neighbor who eats up land like cancer feeds on flesh? Do you wish to turn our beautiful state into feedlots of 50,000 to 100,000 cattle or hog farms with hundreds of thousands of hogs, or turn our plains into mountains of trash from urban areas who should be recyling and planting their own trash, not dumping it on us. Governor, have you no shame?

jonas_opines 1 year, 9 months ago

"Governor, have you no shame?"

Can't see how this is even a question at this point.

headdoctor 1 year, 9 months ago

Republicans have spent more than their share of money too. The only real difference between the parties is who gets the benefit of the money spent.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 1 year, 9 months ago

Brownback...turning your rivers into sewers...because he and his crowd is so full of sh...yster. Brownback...bringing the brown back...

"Nuisance lawsuits" ...right...

nuisance for WHO? Thieves? Bad neighbors? A-holes? Corporations?

We've seen the dawning.. Now let's see the sunset of the age of the S(H)AMocracy!

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

Protect the big corporate farms that may be owned by Monsanto and other polluters that could poison the local water supply??????

This stinks more than animal poop.

headdoctor 1 year, 9 months ago

To late. Nitrates are already in the water supply in Kansas as well as E. Coli. There are some counties in Western Kansas where young children should not be drinking tap water. Since there are several farmers who have switched to limited till farming by spraying their fields for weed control it wont be long before the Western half or more of the State will be even more polluted.

William Weissbeck 1 year, 9 months ago

It's much cheaper to buy an elected official than to take your chances with an impartial jury of your peers. Why do conservatives hate the courts?

Lynn Grant 1 year, 9 months ago

Sounds like another solution to a made up problem. If, as Good says, nuisance lawsuits are not occuring in Kansas, why rush into the legislation?

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 9 months ago

"Nuisance lawsuits"? Is that like suing Monsanto because their GMO modified corn ended up growing on your property and infected your corn?

SpeedRacer 1 year, 9 months ago

A preemptive strike. Brownback is laying the groundwork for more of his buddies to ravage the state.

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