Right to Farm Act passes state Senate committee

  • The Hartwell Sun
    The Hartwell Sun

By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – A bill supporters say would increase protections for Georgia farmers from nuisance lawsuits passed a state Senate committee Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Dubbed the Georgia Right to Farm Act of 2020, the bill would make it more difficult for property owners living in areas zoned for agricultural use to sue nearby agricultural operations such as chicken house or pig farms for offensive smells or runoff from sludge lagoons.
“We’re just doing our job to protect the family farmers in Georgia,” said state Rep. Tom McCall, chairman of the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. McCall sponsored the bill in the House, which passed it last year and sent it over to the Senate.
The bill essentially updates a law the General Assembly enacted during the 1980s. Supporters say farmers need greater protection against nuisance lawsuits than the current law provides because rapid suburbanization of Georgia means more non-farming homeowners are encroaching on farmland.
Under the new bill, property owners wishing to file a nuisance suit against an agricultural operation must be located within five miles of the source of the alleged nuisance. Lawsuits must be brought within two years after a nuisance occurs, down from four years under the current law.