The Florida Senate 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.
“Every single state has a ‘Right to Farm” law that protect farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits filed by people who move into a rural area where normal farming operations exist and then use our court system to try to interfere. Farmers work hard every day so the grocery store shelves are full for everyone else. They don’t have the time or the money to spend months tied up in court because the new subdivision down the road doesn’t like the farming operations that have been in place on that land for generations,” said President Simpson, a lifelong farmer. “Florida farms contribute to our nation’s food supply and billions of dollars to our state’s economy, and yet this law hasn’t been updated in over 40 years. I am grateful to Senator Brodeur for leading that effort here in the Senate.”
“This bill is about protecting legacy businesses across our state. During the last very trying year of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had no diminishment of our food supply and farmers worked very hard to help us stay healthy,” said Senator Brodeur. “By modernizing Florida’s Right to Farm Act, we are striking the correct balance between residential development and critical farm work and agritourism activities. I appreciate the favorable support of my Senate colleagues today and throughout the committee process.”
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.