August 20, 2014

Gov. Nixon signs farm nuisance lawsuit bill, after vetoing initial bill (AUDIO)

Governor Nixon has signed a bill limiting nuisance lawsuits against agricultural operations, after vetoing the legislature’s initial offering.

Sen. Brad Lager (R-Savannah) re-drafted HB 209 into SB 187, clarifying that punitive damages could be awarded and restricting the law only to farm settings, not the city.

“So, it was those two clarifications in 187 that gave the governor the comfort level necessary to sign the bill,” Lager told the Missourinet.

The governor’s office issued a written statement after Nixon signed the bill without ceremony.

“In my veto message on House Bill 209, I expressed my concerns about two provisions of the law: first, that it was too broad; and second, that it would have precluded the neighbors of nuisances relating to crop or animal production from obtaining punitive damages. Punitive damages are an important legal tool: they send a strong message to bad actors to clean up their act. Senate Bill 187 addresses both these concerns and as a result, has earned my signature.”

Lager said he had no problems with the governor’s concerns and easily made the adjustments.

“We’re not trying to take statutory law that was created for rural Missouri and force anyone to apply that in urban and suburban settings,” Lager stated.

Agreeing with Lager is House sponsor Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) who believes the law will provide certainty and stability to agricultural operations.

“So, from that aspect it’s a solid win for agriculture and consumers, ultimately, who benefit the most from agriculture in Missouri,” Guernsey said.

Both Guernsey and Lager pushed the legislation as lawsuit protection for Premium Standard Farms, the corporate hog producer in northern Missouri which employs around 3,000 people. The legislation applies to all livestock and crop operations, regardless of size. It prohibits multiple lawsuits against a farm and limits financial awards to fair market value in cases involving a permanent nuisance and the decrease in fair rental value in cases of a temporary nuisance.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:10 MP3]