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Agriculture Law: dzur nuisanceimmunity

Agriculture Law: dzur nuisanceimmunity

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A research project from The National Center for Agricultural Law Research and Information of the University of Arkansas School of Law • 
NatAgLaw@uark.edu
(479) 575-7646
An Agricultural Law Research Article
Nuisance Immunity Provided by Iowa’s Right-to-FarmStatute: A Taking Without Just Compensation
by
Stephanie L. Dzur
February 2004
www.NationalAgLawCenter.org
 
A National AgLaw Center Research Article
NUISANCE IMMUNITY PROVIDED BY IOWA’SRIGHT-TO-FARM STATUTE: A TakingWITHOUT JUST COMPENSATION?
Stephanie L. Dzur
Attorney at Law
Introduction
To preserve farmlands, agricultural protection laws, commonly known as right-to-farm laws,have been enacted in all fifty states.
1
The right-to-farm laws seek to adjust legal rights betweencompeting property interests by protecting agriculture from nuisance claims, and is one way in whichthe important public policy of preserving land for agricultural uses is effectuated.
2
Some modern trends in livestock production particularly animal feeding operations, haveplaced increased burdens on the environment and raised health and safety, as well as aesthetic
3
concerns. These changes in agriculture have in turn brought about concerns regarding the laws thatprotect land used for agricultural operations, whether they might have gone too far or are evenserving their fundamental purposes.
4
As the United States Supreme Court has recently become more protective of private propertyrights, the Constitution has emerged as a new weapon to strike at right-to-farm laws. In
Bormann v.Board of Supervisors,
the Iowa Supreme Court held that an Iowa statute giving immunity from
1.
See 
Neil Hamilton & David Bolte,
Nuisance Law and Livestock Production in the United States: A Fifty-State Analysis 
, 10 J. A
GRIC
. T
AX
N
& L. 99 (1988).
2.
Alexander A. Reinert, Note,
The Right to Farm: Hog-Tied and Nuisance Bound 
, 73 N.Y.U. L. R
EV
.1694 (1998) [hereinafter
Hog-Tied and Nuisance Bound 
] (overview, purpose and critical examination of right-to-farm laws).
3.
See 
Neil Hamilton,
A Changing Agricultural Law for a Changing Agriculture 
, 4 D
RAKE
J. A
GRIC
.L 41 (1999) (“[A] North Dakota district court recently ruled in a ‘citizen suit’ that a large swine facility is not afarm operation but rather a ‘pig factory’ that must meet industrial waste handling standards. [citation omitted]Court cases such as these will continue to scrutinize the nature of the agricultural system being created andwill test how traditional legal rules apply to this evolving system.”);
See also 
John D. Burns, Comment:
The Eight Million Little Pigs–a Cautionary Tale: Statutory and Regulatory Responses to Concentrated Hog Farming 
, 31 W
AKE
F
OREST
L. R
EV
. (1996).
4.
See 
Neil Hamilton,
Right-to-Farm Laws Reconsidered: Ten Reasons Why Legislative Efforts to Resolve Agricultural Nuisances May Be Ineffective,
3 D
RAKE
J. A
GRIC
. L 103;
See also Hog-Tied and Nuisance Bound 
,
supra 
note 2.
5.
Bormann v. Board of Sup'rs, 584 N.W.2d 309 (1998),
cert. denied 
, Girres v. Bormann, 525 U.S.1172 (1999).
1
 
nuisance suits to farming activities in areas designated as agricultural areas violated the TakingsClause of the Iowa and United States Constitutions. This decision has created speculation as towhether other states’ right-to-farm laws might also be susceptible to a constitutional challenge.
6
AnIdaho District court, for example, relied heavily upon the
Bormann 
decision to strike down an Idahonuisance and trespass immunity statute protecting field burning in agricultural operations as aviolation of the Takings Clause of the Idaho Constitution as well as United States Constitution.
7
This article examines how the Iowa court arrived at its determination that an immunizationfrom tort liability is an unconstitutional taking of property without just compensation. It will discusshow the property right subject to the takings analysis is defined, and whether the
Bormann 
court wascorrect in characterizing the nuisance immunity as a
per se 
taking of property without justcompensation. It will explore how the law has distinguished between trespass and nuisance cases infinding a taking of property. A wealth of decisions have been handed down from state and federalcourts concerning avigation easements, a model for finding precedents to analyze this problem. Inthese cases, the courts have wrestled with the problem of whether the nuisances, typically loudnoises, vibrations, and soot, must also include a physical invasion–a trespass in the property owner’sairspace–to constitute a taking.
First State Court Holding a Right-to-farm Law Providing NuisanceImmunity Is Unconstitutional
The Iowa legislature gave the Iowa citizens and their local government various tools toachieve agricultural protection by enacting right-to-farm laws that provided for:creation of county land preservation and use plans and policies, adoption of anagricultural land preservation ordinance, or establishment of agricultural areas in whichsubstantial agricultural activities are encouraged, so that land inside these areas orsubject to those ordinances is conserved for the production of food, fiber, andlivestock, thus assuring the preservation of agriculture as a major factor in theeconomy of this state . . . .
8
The Iowa right-to-farm statute contained farmland preservation provisions that, upon requestof a property owner and consent of the other property owners in the area to be designated, allowedthe county board of supervisors to create an agricultural area.
9
The purpose of such a designation, as
6.
See, e.g.
, Steven J. Laurent, Comment,
Michigan’s Right to Farm Act: Have Revisions Gone too Far? 
2002 L. R
EV
. M.S.U.-D.C.L. 213; Lisa N. Thomas, Comment:
Forgiving Nuisance and Trespass: Is Oregon’s Right-to-Farm Law Constitutional? 
[hereinafter
Forgiving Nuisance and Trespass 
] 16 J. E
NVTL
. L.& L
ITIG
. 445 (2001); Aaron M. McKown, Survey,
VI. Tort Law Hog Farms and Nuisance Law in 
Parker v.Barefoot
: Has North Carolina Become a Hog Heaven and Waste Lagoon,
77 N.C. L. R
EV
. 2355 (1999);William C. Robinson, Casenote,
Right-to-Farm Statute Runs a ‘Foul’ with the Fifth Amendment’s Taking Clause,
7 M
O
. E
NVTL
. L. & P
OL
Y
R
EV
. 28 (1999).
7.
See 
Moon v. North Idaho Farmers Association, unpublished opinion, No. CV 2002 3890, 2003WL 21640506 (Id. Dist. June 4, 2003).
8.
Iowa Code Ann. § 352.11 (1)(a) (West 2003).
9.
Id. at 
§ 352.6 (West 2003).
2

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