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Why it's difficult to sue a farm

Farming makes up a large part of the economy in California, and the state's many farms may look idyllic to passersby. However, living right next to a large farm can be a much different reality than admiring a farm from the highway, and the experience can be anything but idyllic. People who live next to large farms may have to deal with strong odors from livestock, loud noises from farm machinery and even illnesses caused by pesticide clouds.

Because of right to farm laws, neighbors who live next to large farms do not have much legal recourse for smells and sounds that are bothering them. When 'mega farms" first became popular in the 1980s, many neighbors that lived next to these farms successfully sued them for causing a public nuisance. Farms that used a lot of pesticides or created odorous smells were shut down. In response, right to farm laws were created to protect farmers from lawsuits.

A neighbor may still sue a farm for a creating a nuisance, but it is much more difficult to bring this type of lawsuit than it used to be. Courts typically favor long-time residents over new residents, and a judge may find that a neighbor who 'moved to a nuisance" has no right to sue.

People who live next to a large farm may want to talk to a real estate law attorney about a neighbor dispute that they are involved in. An attorney can help determine whether they have any right to sue a farm for creating a nuisance and whether any of the farming activities going on next door may be illegal.

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