Recent ag nuisance rulings against hog operations in North Carolina have resulted in large financial awards to the plaintiffs.
But the legal counsel for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Eldon McAfee, says those rulings aren’t likely to have much impact on livestock producers in the Midwest. McAfee says the North Carolina cases are focused on the manure handling practices of the farms, which differ from those used by most Midwestern farmers.
“The use of lagoons and spray irrigation-which is what we call it here in Iowa-that’s regulated, as to how you can use spray irrigation. You can’t can’t use it with undiluted manure,” McAfee says.
“The Iowa legislature has stepped in, along with the Iowa DNR, in years past and established some regulations here that would have some impact on whether these nuisance suits as we’re seeing in North Carolina could be repeated here in Iowa.”
McAfee says several recent Midwestern nuisance rulings have been in favor of the farmers. But he says each case is different.
“Nuisance cases are very fact-specific, both from the neighbors’ standpoint and from the producers’ standpoint-at least at the trial level,” he says. “You can’t take a lot of precedential effect from one case to another. It depends on the facts of each case.”
McAfee works for the Brick Gentry law firm in West Des Moines.