The Senate Committee on Rules, chaired by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), today passed Senate Bill 88, Farming Operations, by State Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford). The bill expands protections available under Florida’s Right to Farm Act. Having passed three committees of reference, the bill is now available to be heard on the Senate floor.
“The Senate is committed to preserving Florida’s farms, legacy businesses that contribute to our nation’s food supply and billions of dollars to our state’s economy,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), a lifelong farmer. “Our state has experienced tremendous growth since Florida’s Right to Farm Act was originally passed in 1979, and it’s time to update this important law so existing farm work and complimentary agritourism activities are protected.”
“More and more people are leaving densely populated areas of the country and relocating to rural areas of our state. As new residential development encroaches on these traditionally rural areas, there is a friction that can lead to costly litigation. By modernizing Florida’s Right to Farm Act, we are striking the correct balance between residential development and critical farm work and agritourism activities,” said Senator Brodeur.
Florida’s Right to Farm Act was originally passed in 1979. SB 88 expands and modernizes protections currently available under the Act to protect farmers from lawsuits based on their routine farming and agricultural activities.
The bill prevents a plaintiff from recasting a lawsuit as a negligence suit or another type of suit as a means of circumventing the legal protections for farming in the Right to Farm Act, and requires a plaintiff to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a farming activity does not comply with state and federal environmental laws, regulations, or best management practices.
The legislation also limits plaintiffs who may bring a nuisance lawsuit based on a farming activity to those located within one-half mile of the activity and limits damage awards to the market value of any property harmed by the nuisance. Additionally, the bill adds agritourism to the definition of farm operation.