Three bills were submitted to the Nebraska Legislature this month that work to protect Nebraska farmers. LB 662 proposes a change to the Nebraska Right to Farm Act. This Act makes it harder for neighbors to sue farmers over nuisances. This bill further limits who is permitted to file a nuisance action and recover damages. LB 394 determines damages for taking agricultural land. Additionally, LB 591 requires notice of termination of an oral lease of agricultural land and is set for a hearing on January 31, 2023.
Legislative Bill 662 – L.B.662, 2023 Leg., 180th Sess. (Neb. 2023)
This legislative bill sets a limit on who is permitted to file a nuisance action to recover damages. An agricultural operation is alleged to be a public or private nuisance to only such persons who own a majority interest in the real property affected by the agricultural operation and such real property is located within one-half mile of the agricultural operation. To file a nuisance action, the agricultural operation must materially violate a federal, state, or local law applicable to an agricultural operation. The bill specifies an agricultural operation is not considered a nuisance if conducted in a manner consistent with commonly accepted agricultural practices and is in material compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. The bill specifies that a change in ownership or increase in size, nonpermanent cessation, or interruption of use as an agricultural operation, participation in any government-sponsored agricultural program, employment of new technology, or change in the type of farm product produced will not cause an agricultural operation to be considered a nuisance. The bill also limits the time a nuisance suit must be brought from within two years after the level of offense is sufficient to bring a claim down to one year. This bill was introduced on January 18, 2023, and was referred to the Agricultural Committee on January 20, 2023.
Legislative Bill 394 – L.B. 394, 2023 Leg., 180th Sess. (Neb. 2023)
This bill requires the damages for taking agricultural land to include (i) Two times the fair market value of the condemned property; (ii) Reasonable severance damages, including the replacement cost for any of the following located on the condemned property: Dwellings, garages, sheds, barns, wells, septic systems, fences, and any other permanent structures; and (iii) The condemnee’s abstracting expenses. For all other property the damages shall include: (i) The fair market value of the condemned property; (ii) Reasonable severance damages; and (iii) The condemnee’s abstracting expenses. This bill was introduced on January 12, 2023, and was referred to the Judiciary Committee on January 17, 2023.
Legislative Bill 591 – L.B. 591, 2023 Leg., 180th Sess. (Neb. 2023)
To terminate an oral lease of land used for agricultural purposes, notice of intent to terminate shall be given on or before January 1st of a year, and such termination shall take effect no sooner than March 1st of such year. If such notice is given after January 1st of a year, the termination shall not be effective until March 1st of the following year. There is a notice of hearing set for this bill on January 31, 2023.
Due to the potential effects these bills would have on Nebraska farmers, it will be important for the public to stay updated on the status of them going forward.
This article was drafted by Jelena Milakovic