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Real Estate -- Agricultural Nuisance Lawsuits

Increasingly, urban and suburban areas encroach upon agricultural operations, specifically hog and chicken farms. Conversely, farmers have also expanded their operations and disgruntled neighbors have filed "nuisance lawsuits" against farmers and ranchers.


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pig farmMost U.S. states have enacted the "Right to Farm Act"â€"a statute that protects established farms and ranches from these lawsuits. But the operative word in this statute is "established." As well, The Right to Farm Act only protects farmers and ranchers whose operation was in existence and has not expanded its operation after the neighbors moved into the neighborhood.

Furthermore, in each state, the state Commissioner of Agriculture sets out criteria that specify the Best Management Practices. A farmer and/or rancher must comply with the criteria in order to receive protection from nuisance lawsuits.

"Farm nuisance dispute" means a claim that the farming activity of a farm resident constitutes a nuisance.

"Farm resident" means a person holding an interest in fee, under a real estate contract, or under a lease, in land used for farming activity when that person manages the operations on the land.

"Farming activity" means the cultivation of farmland for the production of crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamental and flowering plants, and the utilization of farmland for the production of dairy, livestock, poultry, and all other forms of agricultural products having a domestic or foreign market.

"Nuisance" means an action that is injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property.

Nuisance Action
"Nuisance actions" are considered a supplement to regulation and litigation under the environmental laws. To determine unreasonable use of property (that would constitute a nuisance) usually means whether or not the defendant's use of the property is "unreasonable" under the circumstances. Did the particular use pre-exist before the neighbor complained? Has the defendant expanded the operation and/or property and is it encroaching on the complainant's property?

If the answer to either of these questions is "yes", you may want to consider taking legal action to stop or "abate" a public nuisance. A private nuisance may be stopped, or "abated," by a legal action usually brought by a private property owner against an adjacent property owner.

Farm Nuisance Articles

Sleepless on the Farm
It has been a long time since Tim Wilson and his wife got to sleep in. Every morning around 4am the neighbor's two dozen or so roostersâ€"just outside their bedroom windowâ€"give them a wake-up call. The rooster crows have turned into a frustrating farm nuisance.

Poultry Farm Nuisance: Nobody Crosses the Road
"I will never get used to this," says Maureen Holmes. "I'm surrounded by chicken houses and my kids can't even play outside." For Maureen and her family, these chicken houses are more than a poultry farm nuisance; they have interfered with their quality of life.

Farm Nuisance: Too Close for Comfort
Farm Nuisance: Living Near Poultry Factory
Factory Farms: Air Pollution and the Threat of Bird Flu
Factory Farm Pollution: Neighbors Turn to Lawsuits
Hog Wash: Animal Waste Sparks Tempers and Lawsuits in Midwest
Scientists: Factory Farm Neighbors Face Health Risks
Factory Farms: What Can Be Done?
"What Stinks?" It's the Factory Farm

Farm Nuisance in the News

JUL-30-07: Megafarms in Michigan have become a source of contention for lawmakers and a nuisance to neighbors. State senators are introducing a five-bill package to obtain more control over animal factories. [DETROIT NEWS: FARM NUISANCE]

JUL-17-07: Groundwater contamination near animal factories is increasing, posing a potentially serious drinking water problem for residents living near hog and poultry factory farms. [NRDC: FARM NUISANCE]

JUN-20-07: The city of Clay is fighting with chicken farms surrounding the community over complaints of odors emanating from the farms. [JOURNAL-ENTERPRISE: FARM NUISANCE]

Farm Nuisance Legal Help

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Sleepless on the Farm
It has been a long time since Tim Wilson and his wife got to sleep in. Every morning around 4am the neighbor's two dozen or so roosters—just outside their bedroom window—give them a wake-up call. The rooster crows have turned into a frustrating farm nuisance [READ MORE]

Poultry Farm Nuisance: Nobody Crosses the Road
Poultry Farm Nuisance: Nobody Crosses the Road Parrotsville, TN "I will never get used to this," says Maureen Holmes. "I'm surrounded by chicken houses and my kids can't even play outside." For Maureen and her family, these chicken houses are more than a poultry farm nuisance; they have interfered with their quality of life [READ MORE]

Farm Nuisance: Too Close for Comfort
Evansville, IN "We live in an agricultural community but there's no reason why someone has to build turkey houses right across the street from us," says Jamie H. Her family now has to deal with yet another poultry farm nuisance [READ MORE]


Posted by
About a year ago, we had a chicken farmer move right behind us with 3 large houses. I am very allergic to feathers, but besides that, I am unable to enjoy or use my property because of the stench coming from the chicken houses. Hold my nose when I open the door, because you never know if you are going to get smacked in the face with the stench. Flies are terrible. It always sounds like an industrial site outside. When they change out the chickens (roasters), the trucks fly down our road and hit the jake breaks when they arrive in front of my house. It is horrible. Now I can't sell my house, and the State of Delaware, being a "chicken & horse racing" state, tell me "that the farmers have rights and get defensive when I ask questions and ask what my rights are. No one came and let us know they were building the houses. I appealed to the farmer and wrote him a nice, non threatening letter, letting him know just how these houses are affecting my life and use and enjoyability of my property, and appealed to his common decency, but it didn't get me anywhere. He comes from one of the oldest chicken farming families so I have been in a living hell for 2 years and will probably end up letting my house go to foreclosure, destroying my credit and walking away.

Posted by
North Carolina
No quality of life - can't go outside, can't open the windows . Confined to the house & there is a health issue. There is dust constantly.

Posted by
West Virginia
1000's of flies daily on our two porches and inside the house when it cool. The flies are all over us, in and on our cars, our pets, our yard, our outside furniture. They leave brown spots on everything inside and out. It's so bad sometimes we have to crack the door and spray before we can step out onto the porch. When it's cold outside, they come inside (hundreds per day). When a storm is coming, hundreds of flies come to our porches and they just keep coming the longer it rains (and this is after being freshly painted as well.) We've only had two dinners inside this year where there wasn't a fly bothering us. One of the days was a couple of weeks after I had called the health department.

Posted by
We have lost the enjoyment of our property because of the constant noise from more than 100 roosters and chickens. Also, over the years they have wandered onto our property and scratched out flower beds, pooped on our porches and scratched up our vehicles.

Posted by
North Carolina
My property with rolling hills and view of Pilot Mtn should be worth $15,000/acre but I couldn't ever show it because of the odor being disgusting, actually burns your eyes and prevents you from breathing. Couldn't even go out of house at Thanksgiving. 5,000 sq.ft house is now unmarketable. Property should be worth$1,600,000 but is now not close to that. Plus the health problems being created.

Posted by
The dairy is approximately 100 feet from our front door. It presently has 300 cows and runs like an industrial site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can no longer sleep in our own home due to the noise from their machinery and the odor and flies keeps us inside.

Posted by
A four house poultry farm has moved into our neighborhood, aprox 250ft from our propery line. The odor is horrid, and semis are leaving at all hours of the day and night, we have an ever growing population of flies, mice, feathers and stray dogs. Unable to sell our house for over 2 years through our realitor. Owners of the chicken houses have shot up our car after we made complaints, we have been run off the road by feed trucks. Fan noise. Unable to hang our laundry out on the cloths line. No more family picnics or outdoor family functions. We had to sell our hot tub because of the odor, just wasn't enjoyable to sit outside and smell rotting chickens. My kids won't play outside anymore because they don't want to smell the chicken poop.


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