AG Curtis Hill Successfully Defends Indiana’s Right To Farm Act

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 10:48 AM

By Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, press release

“Agriculture is a vital piece of Indiana’s economy, and laws such as this are effective in protecting it.”

The Indiana Supreme Court has issued an order safeguarding the rights of Indiana farmers following the Office of the Attorney General’s defense of the state’s Right to Farm Act.

“Defending Hoosier farmers is more important today than ever, and I am pleased the Indiana Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Indiana Right to Farm Act,” Attorney General Curtis Hill said. “Agriculture is a vital piece of Indiana’s economy, and laws such as this are effective in protecting it.”

The Indiana Right to Farm Act strictly limits the scenarios in which an agricultural operation may be sued for nuisance. The Indiana General Assembly deemed the limitation necessary “to conserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of (Indiana’s) agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products” and “to reduce the loss to the state of its agricultural resources.”

In 2015, two families in rural Hendricks County sued 4/9 Livestock LLC, its owners, and Co-Alliance LLP. 4/9 Livestock owns and operates an 8,000-hog concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), which raises hogs owned by Co-Alliance.

In the lawsuit, the families challenged the law, arguing the CAFO emits noxious odors that hinder their use and enjoyment of their properties. The families also argued that their properties, which are located less than one mile from the CAFO, have substantially diminished in value. The plaintiffs also challenged the statutes as unconstitutional.

Attorney General Hill intervened in the lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of the Indiana Right to Farm Act and the Agricultural Canon, which says Indiana Code “shall be construed to protect the rights of farmers to choose among all generally accepted farming and livestock production practices, including the use of ever changing technology.”

The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants on all of the plaintiffs’ claims. The Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court’s decision in April 2019, and the Indiana Supreme Court last week denied the plaintiffs’ petition to transfer the case.

The Office of the Attorney General argued last September that the Indiana Supreme Court should deny the transfer. That argument is attached. Staff also appeared in court in January to defend the statutes in oral argument.

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