A July decision by the Florida appellate court awarding a Florida hog producer over $500,000 for damages that occurred as a result of the State’s 2003 ban on gestation crates may cause legislatures to take a second look before enacting legislation to rid the pork industry of those very crates.
In 2010, Stephen Basford filed an “inverse condemnation” lawsuit against the State of Florida, claiming he was forced to shut down his hog operation after the ban on gestation crates was enacted. The court agreed with Stephen Basford and found the ban prevented Mr. Basford from using the pig-raising facilities and that Mr. Basford would incur over $600,000 in costs to modify the facilities to operate without gestation crates.
An “inverse condemnation” suit is akin to a “takings claim” which we previously discussed in Rezoning Your Backyard. The 2003 constitutional ban rendered Mr. Basford’s hog operation useless and essentially “took” approximately $505,000 in value from Mr. Basford. Therefore, the court found Mr. Basford had a right to receive compensation for the government’s taking of such value. For more information check out the US Agricultural & Food Law and Policy Blog.
The ruling is not going to stop animal rights groups from pushing for gestation crate bans in all states. Furthermore, the court emphasized the ruling was limited to Mr. Basford’s narrowly tailored circumstances. However narrowly tailored the ruling, legislatures should take note of the decision when deciding how such regulations may affect existing agricultural industry and may create litigation.
You can find the full decision at State of Florida v. Stephen D. Basford.