State senators from rural and urban areas found a compromise for broadening legal protections for farm and livestock producers from nuisance lawsuits while still preserving neighbors' rights to file claims.
The proposed expansion to Nebraska's Right to Farm Act from Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango grants farmers legal protections to change the size of their operation or adopt new technology, as long as they take reasonable steps to mitigate potential nuisances like odor and dust.
The bill (LB227) overcame a first-round filibuster led by Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, who said it effectively closed the door to neighbors who had a legitimate nuisance complaint by offering immunity to farm and ranch operations.
Before the bill returned for the second round of consideration on Thursday, Hughes and Lathrop worked on an amendment that provides neighbors a "statute of limitations" to file a claim if a nuisance situation arises.
"When it gets to that point, it starts a two-year clock and you, the aggrieved party, have two years to bring that lawsuit," Lathrop explained. "If you don't bring that lawsuit, the door is closed to you."
The amendment, which was adopted on a 38-0 vote, preserved existing provisions within the Right to Farm Act, which was passed in 1982 to give longtime ranchers and farmers protections from nuisance lawsuits from people who move into the area.
Before LB227 was advanced, Hughes said he fully supported the amendment and added it had the backing of agricultural interest groups including the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Farm Bureau.
The bill will need to pass the Legislature once more before it is sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his signature.