The Iowa Supreme Court has issued a key ruling on the constitutionality of Iowa’s embattled right-to-farm law.
The director of the Center for Ag Law at Iowa State University, Kristine Tidgren, says — in one respect — the decision is a victory for livestock producers. “The plaintiffs really wanted the court to say that the right-to-farm statute was just unconstitutional and they wanted the court to basically eliminate that protection for ag producers,” Tidgren said. “The court did not do that.”
The Iowa Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision that found the statute protecting producers from nuisance lawsuits was unconstitutional. But, the decision does not prevent ag nuisance lawsuits from being filed in the future and, according to Tidgren, livestock producers may still have to prove they are operating within the law.
“This does give (producers) more protection because the court did affirm that the statute can be valid, but it’s not something that can be decided on someone’s judgement, it’s going to have to be after some fact-finding, which is costly,” Tidgren said.
By requiring plaintiffs to provide more proof of negligence or a violation of the law, Tidgren said the ruling may help deter the filing of unsupported claims. The court ruling stems from a case in southeast Iowa’s Wapello County, where three families complained of the odor from two nearby hog farms.