North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed the North Carolina Farm Act — a bill that would have limited how and when neighbors of hog farms can sue with nuisance claims.
Gov. Cooper shared the following statement on his veto of Senate Bill 717.
“While agriculture is vital to North Carolina’s economy, so property rights are vital to people’s homes and other businesses. North Carolina’s nuisance laws can help allow generations of families to enjoy their homes and land without fear for their health and safety. Those same laws stopped the Tennessee Valley Authority from pumping air pollution into our mountains,” Cooper said. “Our laws must balance the needs of businesses versus property rights. Giving one industry special treatment at the expense of its neighbors is unfair.”
The bill would have prohibited a nuisance lawsuit from being filed unless it’s done within a year of the establishment of the agriculture or forestry operation on which the complaint is focused or within a year of “fundamental change.” “Fundamental change” would not include changes in ownership, technology, product, or size of the operation.
The bill also would have limited when punitive damages can be awarded. Unless a farm operator has a criminal conviction or has received a regulatory notice of violation that state farm laws were broken, such damages won’t be allowed.
It’s a sad day when the Governor of North Carolina chooses to stand up for out-of-state trial lawyers over our family farmers, and this veto has left our rural communities wondering where the Roy Cooper who grew up in rural Nash County has gone. #ncpol #ncga pic.twitter.com/ReBfp0fYY9
— Sen. Brent Jackson (@SenBrentJackson) June 26, 2018
The North Carolina Farm Act was also trying to address the issue of mislabeled plant products as “milk.”
Cooper said he will “urge the Senate to promptly override this misguided veto and restore meaning to the right to farm in N.C.”