Georgia’s Freedom to Farm Act was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp on April 13, 2022. The controversial bill was passed by the house 102-62. The bill replaces a 1980 law governing nuisance suits against farmers operating in areas zoned for agricultural use. Proponents of the bill attest that it will help protect the state’s $12 billion agriculture industry from volatile pricing caused by supply chain interruptions. Opponents of the bill claim it provides less protection than the original law.
Georgia’s Freedom to Farm laws
In 1980, Georgia lawmakers proposed the Right to Farm Act, designed to protect agricultural users against nuisance actions, hoping to reduce the loss of state resources. The Freedom to Farm Act was primarily driven by state Republicans and the Georgia Farm Bureau. The 2022 law makes it more difficult for locals to sue farming operations for property damage or unreasonably interfering with the complainant’s right to enjoy or use it by limiting the circumstances and timetable for filing suit.
Understanding the Freedom to Farm law
The Freedom to Farm agricultural law provides farmers with protection if they have been operating in compliance with state laws for two years. The law provides nearby locals with two years to file a nuisance complaint. After that statute of limitations expires, any legally operating farm is protected. The window for filing a nuisance suit resets if a farm begins a concentrated animal feeding operation. The law is designed to protect farmers and property owners while hindering bad actors.
Opponents claim that the law erodes property rights and makes it harder to file suit against agricultural operations for polluting public resources like rivers and groundwater.