INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation (INAgLaw) has announced that an important case impacting Hoosier farmers was decided April 22 by the Indiana State Court of Appeals. The case involved Indiana’s well-litigated right to farm statute. The holding follows established legal precedent and is a clear victory for Indiana agriculture.
The case was brought against 4/9 Livestock, LLC and Co-Alliance, LLP — pork producers from Hendricks County, who began operation of their modern pork production operation in 2013. The lawsuit alleged nuisance and negligence and also challenged the constitutionality of Indiana’s right to farm statute.
INAgLaw was engaged in the case at both the trial court and appeals court levels by filing amicus briefs in each court. INAgLaw’s amicus briefs advised both courts of the value of Indiana’s right to farm statute to Indiana agriculture and detailed prior right to farm cases with similar fact patterns.
“Indiana Farm Bureau has worked diligently to ensure that Indiana has a strong right to farm statue that protects farmers from unwarranted nuisance suits,” said Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau president. “Farm Bureau created INAgLaw in 2005, and we’re proud that the Foundation played such an effective role in making sure the voice of agriculture was heard.”
Indiana’s right to farm statute protects Indiana farms that operate in traditional agricultural locations and are not negligently operated. The right to farm statute is a farmer’s defense to nuisance suits, provided the farm has been in continuous operation for more than one year at the time the suit is brought. Significantly, under the law, the farm is allowed to change the type of operation from a dairy to a hog farm, or soybean field to turkey farm, for example, without losing protection.
“The Indiana Court of Appeals has handed down a decisive victory for Indiana agriculture and affirmed the strength of Indiana’s right to farm law,” said John Shoup, director of INAgLaw.
“In interpreting the statute, the court held that a farm does not need to prove its modern operation ‘would not have been a nuisance’ at the time the property was first used for agriculture. Here, the farm property was used for agriculture as early as 1941 and the neighbors began their non-farming uses sometime after that.”
Shoup explained that considering the 2005 amendment to the Act, which clearly stated that converting from one agriculture use to another, such as from crops to livestock, was not a statutorily significant change; the Court held the Act applies. Shoup added that the court summarily dismissed the Plaintiff’s constitutional challenges.
According to Shoup, appellants have 30 days from the date of the court of appeals opinion to petition to transfer the case to the Indiana Supreme Court.
— Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation
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