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Livestock nuisance lawsuits curtailed under Iowa Senate bill approved this week

Iowa cow

DES MOINES – To promote economic growth in the state, the Iowa Senate has OK’d a bill that puts a cap on the damages livestock producers would face in nuisance lawsuits.

In Senate File 447, approved Tuesday by the Senate in a 31-18 vote, the Iowa general assembly finds that important public interests are advanced by preserving and encouraging the expansion of responsible animal agricultural production in this state which provides employment opportunities in and economic growth for rural Iowa, contributes tax revenues to the state and to local communities, and protects our valuable natural resources.

The bill states that the purpose of the legislation is to encourage persons involved in animal agriculture to adopt existing prudent and generally utilized management practices for their animal feeding operations, thereby enhancing the fundamental role of nimal agriculture in this state by providing a reasonable level of protection to persons engaged in animal agricultural production from certain types of nuisance actions.

Large hog confinement in Hamilton county, Iowa

The general assembly claims it has balanced all competing interests and declares its intent to preserve and enhance responsible animal agricultural production, specifically animal agricultural producers in this state who use existing prudent and generally utilized management practices reasonable for their animal feeding operations.

A nuisance from a livestock producer could range from sound pollution, smell, air pollution, water pollution, etc.  Financial damages would be limited under the bill.  “Big ag” has come under fire across the state as water quality allegedly dwindles.  Citizens have become more vocal over water concerns, as well.

Democratic Representative Sharon Steckman of Mason City said via social media after the Senate passed the bill “An economic development bill? Really???”

Bill Northey

This year, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey expounded on the virtues of animal livestock and agriculture in Iowa, saying “animal agriculture continues to be a driving force in our state’s economy … we continue to lead the nation in the production of pork and eggs and also have very important beef, dairy and turkey production. It has been a challenges (sic) time economically for many of our livestock farmers, but thanks for all your hard work helps make sure Iowa remains a great place to raise livestock.”

A companion bill is in the Iowa House at this time.  Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, and the bill is expected to eventually reach the desk of Governor Terry Branstad, who would likely sign it into law immediately.

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