The North Carolina General Assembly introduced a bill to limit the penalties that private nuisance action charges can bring against the agriculture industry in North Carolina.
This bill would limit agricultural pay-outs to be no more than the fair market value of the private property filing a complaint. For temporary nuisances, the bill contends that pay-out be no more than fair market rental value of the property ( Senate Bill DRS45312-TQ-19A).
Agricultural groups within the state argue that this bill would protect the industry from unfair and targeted claims to the agriculture industry, which would establish a basic level of legal protection for farmers in the state. Support of the bill also emphasizes that the agriculture industry is often the target of environmental groups and civil rights groups unfairly (NC LEG Summary, North Carolina Chamber. The agriculture industry is critical to this state and needs to be considered in terms of the economic benefits it brings to the state as well as the environmentally safe practices that it does well to employ. The North Carolina agriculture industry generates $84 billion in economic revenue. Current law against farm liability is very unclear about what types of payment awards are allowed. Non-profit environmental groups claim that this bill protects the profit margin of corporate farms at the expense of community residences.
Criticism of the bill also includes that these pay-out restrictions limit payouts to property value, and do not consider the values associated with health concerns, environmental regards, and take advantage of the lower resource communities that are most often disproportionately impacted by concentrated feeding organizations (NC Policy Watch). Furthermore, there are a number of civil lawsuits that have been filed against the agriculture industry for disproportionately negatively affecting Black and Native American communities (NC Policy Watch Civil Rights Lawsuits). The limitations set forth in this bill would impact the outcome of the current lawsuits.