There is fat in North Carolina’s annual farm bill. SB 711 passed the Senate and is now working its way through the House. The bill contains a number of troubling provisions. One prohibits soy bean, almond, coconut and other plant-based milk suppliers from labelling their products “milk”. Others make it difficult for property-owners to win lawsuits against hog or livestock farms.
Earlier this week Civitas printed an analysis by former State. Representative and Speaker Pro Tempor Paul Stam of the many problems with SB 711. In the interim, the bill received a significant revision. While some things are better, problems remain. As currently constructed SB 711, still threatens the right of property-owners to bring claims in nuisance cases against farming operations. Furthermore, the bill makes it impractical for property-owners to receive punitive damages in a nuisance case.
The legislation clearly tries to provide some relief for hog and other livestock farmers who increasingly find themselves the subject of nuisance lawsuits. Earlier this year, pork giant Smithfield Foods lost a similar $50 million lawsuit. Fear is building among some in the ag community that without changes to address problem lawsuits, hog farming will come to end in North Carolina and Smithfield Foods and other ag industries will locate elsewhere.
It’s important to strike a balance between private and commercial interests. SB 711 doesn’t do that. It shreds the rights of property-owners — and offers no real solutions to current problems.
For a more in depth analysis of SB 711, see Paul Stam’s memo below