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Houghtaling Bill to Strengthen Legal Protections for Farmers Under ‘Right to Farm Act’ Passes Committee

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Monday approved legislation (A-3619) to strengthen legal protections under the Right to Farm Act by allowing farmers to recover reasonable costs and attorney fees in the defense of bad faith complaints.

The Right to Farm Act protects responsible commercial farms from public or private nuisance legal actions. The law established the irrebuttable presumption that a commercial agricultural operation is not a public or private nuisance so long as it conforms with management practices recommended by the State Agriculture Development Committee, complies with State and federal regulations, and does not pose a threat to public safety, among other criteria.

This bill would further expand legal protections for farmers by allowing them to recoup legal fees and attorney costs if a complaint was filed in bad faith against them.

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), chair of the Agriculture Committee and sponsor of the measure, released the following statement:

“The Right to Farm Act is intended to provide legal support to farmers and help resolve disputes between farmers and neighbors. While it has been instrumental in providing protection to the agricultural operations that provide food and resources across the Garden State, over the years we’ve heard from many farmers who have concerns that the law doesn’t go far enough.

          “This legislation will add another layer of support for farmers facing bad faith complaints by creating a path to recoup expensive legal fees. Our farmers play an integral, irreplaceable role in getting food to our families’ tables, and we must do all we can do support their important work.”