Bill Designed to Modernize Florida’s Right to Farm Law Moves through First Committee Stop

Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) introduced SB 88, a bill that will protect farms from lawsuits. The Sanford Republican’s bill would restrict the types of civil lawsuits based on farming activities, require plaintiffs to prove noncompliance with state or federal requirements and limit who may file nuisance lawsuits against farmers.

The Florida Right to Farm Act was established in 1979 and has played a key role in protecting the viability of Florida agriculture.  Protecting and strengthening this law has been a priority for Florida Farm Bureau since its inception.

The law currently protects farms from nuisance lawsuits in urbanizing areas.  Essentially, if a farm has been in business for more than a year and conforms to generally accepted agricultural practices it cannot be sued for nuisance by surrounding neighbors. This helps ensure that farms can remain in business without worrying about lawsuits arising from the sights, sounds, smells, etc. that are commonplace in production agriculture.

Because of recent judicial rulings in other states, several areas in Florida’s Right to Farm Law have been identified that could be strengthened.  SB 88 would strengthen protections afforded to Florida agriculture as the state continues to urbanize.

“While we are always happy to welcome more Floridians, we also have to preserve existing farms that contribute to our economy and food supply,” Brodeur said. “This legislation strikes the right balance by modernizing Florida’s existing Right to Farm Act.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson has signaled that SB 88 will be a priority.  It has already passed one committee stop with 10 yeas and 1 nay in the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 1 and will be heard next in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.