The Right to Farm Act protects farmers from being sued by their neighbors. The RTFA says that a person cannot sue an agricultural operation for a nuisance arising out of a normal agricultural operation more than one year after the operation started or was substantially expanded or altered. This one year limitation is a “statute of repose.” That means that neighbors have no more than one year to bring a complaint, even if an injury or problem occurred after the year expired. A recent case (Burlingame, et al. v. Dagostin) provided another victory for farmers.
In this case, a group of neighbors complained when a farmer began spreading liquefied swine manure (LSM) from its finishing operation onto their farm. When I say “group of neighbors” I mean a big group. I counted 83 Plaintiffs in the caption. The Dagostins operated Will-O-Bet Farm since 1955. In 2011, they switched from a beef farm to a swine finishing operation. They received their CAFO permit and nutrient management plan approval in 2012. They began spreading LSM in June 2013. In May of 2014, a large group of the neighbors brought a suit for nuisance because of the odors of the manure. Both the Trial Court and the Superior Court held that the Right to Farm Act did not allow neighbors to bring this action because the action was started more than one year after the agricultural operation started.