Thursday, August 1, 2013

Court Finds that Florida Hog Farmer is Entitled to Compensation from the State as a Result of the Gestation Crate Ban

On July 24, 2013, a Florida appeals court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that Stephen Basford of Basford Farms was owed $505,000 plus interest for a taking of certain improvements on his real property by the State of Florida as a result of the “Pregnant Pig Amendment.”

The Pregnant Pig Amendment (Article X, section 21 of the Florida Constitution) was enacted in 2008 after voters approved the Amendment in 2002. The Amendment makes it illegal to confine a pig during pregnancy in an enclosure, or tether a pig during pregnancy, on a farm, in a way that prevents the pig from turning around freely. Basford, one of two mass pork producers who used gestation crates in Florida, claimed that he had to shut down his operation in 2003 after the passage of the Amendment. He stated that he could no longer operate his business and compete with other producers who were not restricted from using gestation crates. Basford sold for salvage value all of his gestation and farrowing crates and other materials used in his operation, stating that it would have cost him $600,000 to convert his hog farming operation to conform to the new law.

The lower court concluded that a taking by the State occurred when the law went into effect on November 5, 2008 and that Basford was entitled to the fair market value of the improvements to his real property valued at the time of the taking less the salvage value totaling $505,000 plus interest. The appeals court affirmed when the taking occurred because the statute of limitations did not begin to accrue until the Amendment went into effect in 2008, therefore not expiring before Basford filed suit. The appeals court also affirmed the Final Judgment that an as-applied taking occurred because, as shown through the lower court’s fact-finding process, there was a loss of value as a result of the Amendment.

For the full opinion, please see the Florida State Court’s website.
Written by Sarah Doyle - Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
August 1, 2013

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