Paul Goeringer1, Tiffany Lashmet2, Olivia Kuykendall1

1University Of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States

2Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, College Station, Texas, United States



Legal Defenses and Impact on Agricultural Operations  2017 has been a year of development in right-to-farm laws and potentially limiting how these defenses protect farms in the United States.  A right-to-farm law is a nuisance defense law that has been enacted in all 50 states.  If a farm meets the requirements in the law, then the farm gains a defense to nuisance claims.  Right-to-farm laws were developed in the 1980s by state governments as a way to limit some of the impacts of urbanization in many rural areas.  As residents moved in next door to farming operations, many of these new neighbors had limited experience with agriculture and were not expecting the impact living next to a working farm could have on their lives.  Right-to-farm laws provide a defense to those qualifying farms who face nuisance suits.  Today right-to-farm laws have been in the news in the United States more than normal.  Producers have seen recent court decisions that potentially limit these laws in some states, decisions that protect the changing nature of American agriculture, and finally state legislatures getting involved to expand these protections.  In Alaska, North Carolina, and Iowa, court decisions potentially limit the types of agricultural operations that the right-to-farm law defense would apply too.  At the same time, the North Carolina General Assembly acted to change the reach of the court decision in that state.  In Pennsylvania and Georgia, courts have interpreted the respective state right-to-farm defenses to protect a changing face of American farms.  This poster would fall under the Roles of Government.  The poster would highlight recent court decisions and how these wide-ranging of decisions could impact agriculture on a state level in the United States and strategies that states have taken to move these laws to protect the changing face of agriculture.


Paul Goeringer specializes in legal risk management as it relates to agriculture. Prior to coming to the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Paul worked at the University of Arkansas where his legal research was focused in the areas of environmental compliance, right-to-farm laws, agricultural leasing laws, contracting issues, federal farm program compliance, recreational use and agritourism issues, and estate planning issues in agriculture. Through this research Paul developed educational materials to better help Arkansas’s agricultural producers understand and manage legal risks in their operations. Since joining the Policy Center, Paul has worked with county extension educators to begin to fill the void in the areas of agricultural leasing and legal issues in estate planning. Paul is also looking at modifying his existing research in the areas of environmental compliance, right-to-farm laws, and federal farm program compliance to benefit Maryland’s farmers. Paul is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics, the University of Oklahoma with a Juris Doctorate, and the University of Arkansas with an LL.M. in Agricultural Law and an M.S. in Agricultural Economics. Paul is licensed to practice law in Oklahoma and is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association, the American Agricultural Law Association, the Southern Agricultural Economics Association, and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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