Burzichelli Bill to Strengthen Legal Protections for Farmers Advanced by Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli to strengthen the legal protections provided to farmers under the “Right to Farm Act” was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.

“Farmers face enough day-to-day challenges trying to keep their operations economically viable,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “We’ve been trying very hard in recent years to streamline regulatory requirements and eliminate unnecessary burdens for our farm industry. The last thing they need is to be mired in bills from meritless legal proceedings.”

Specifically, the bill (A-552) would allow farmers to recover reasonable costs and attorney fees incurred in the defense of bad faith complaints against commercial agricultural operations, activities or structures:

1) found to conform to an agricultural management practice recommended by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC); or

2) whose specific operation or practice has been determined by the committee or the appropriate county agriculture development board to constitute a generally accepted agricultural operation or practice; and

3) which does not violate any relevant state or federal law nor pose a direct threat to public health and safety.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.