Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kansas Legislature Amends State Right-to-Farm Laws to Limit Compensatory Damages for Nuisance Claims

On July 1, 2013, the Kansas legislature enacted SB 168 which amends the state’s right-to-farm laws. Kansas right-to-farm laws have traditionally protected agricultural operations from burdensome nuisance claims. The new law reinforces the protections offered by the right-to-farm laws by differentiating between permanent and temporary nuisance claims, further protecting the expansion of agricultural activities, and ensuring that property assigned, sold or inherited remains under the protection of right-to-farm laws.

Permanent and temporary nuisances will be considered separately, allowing for a fair market value allocation of compensatory damages for permanent nuisances, and for temporary nuisances, the lesser of:

      ·         the diminution in fair rental value of the claimant’s property,

·         the value of the loss of enjoyment of the claimant’s property,

·         or the reasonable cost to repair or mitigate any injury to the claimant can be awarded to the claimant.

In addition, farmland owners can now reasonably expand the scope of their agricultural activities without forfeiting protections under the right-to-farm laws. The law also stated that an agricultural operation that is consistent with good agricultural practices and that was established prior to surrounding agricultural or non-agricultural activities is presumed reasonable and would not constitute a nuisance. Furthermore, the law amends the definition of “agricultural activity” to include the handling, storage, and transportation of agricultural commodities.

For the more information, please see the Kansas Legislature’s website on SB 168.

Written by Sarah Doyle - Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
July 16, 2013

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