CHAPTER 22.  RIGHT TO FARM AND FOREST

PART I.  RIGHT TO FARM

3601.  Citation; legislative findings; purpose

A.  This Part shall be known as and may be cited as the Louisiana Right to Farm Law.

B.(1)  The legislature hereby finds and declares that agriculture is essential not only to the economy of the state but to the sustenance of life, yet acreage devoted to agriculture has steadily declined in this century.

(2)  The legislature further finds and declares that owners of agricultural land and the public, which depends upon agricultural production, need to be protected from further diminution in value of agricultural land by providing safeguards and by establishing a more reliable remedy for diminution in value of agricultural land caused by governmental entities.

(3)  The legislature also finds and declares that agricultural operations and the public, which depends upon agricultural production, need to be protected from any nuisance actions.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 95, 1; Acts 1995, No. 302, 1; Acts 2008, No. 515, 1.

3602.  Definitions

As used in this Part, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) "Agricultural activity" means a commercial enterprise of any agricultural related or associated entity.

(2)  "Agricultural facility" means any facility used for the marketing, processing, or production of agricultural products, or for providing agricultural support services.

(3)  "Agricultural land" means any land on which any agricultural operations is being conducted.  Land which has qualified for a use value assessment under the provisions of R.S. 47:2301 et seq. shall be presumed to be agricultural land.

(4)  "Agricultural marketing" means the marketing or handling of agricultural products.

(5) "Agricultural operation" means any agricultural facility or agricultural land which is being used for agricultural production or agricultural processing and includes any facility used for the production and processing of crops or products thereof, livestock or products thereof, farm-raised fish and fish products, wood, timber or forest products, fowl or plants for breeding or sales, and poultry or poultry products for commercial or industrial purposes. "Agricultural operation" also includes the use of farm machinery, equipment, devices, chemicals, products for agricultural use, materials and structures designed for agricultural use and used in accordance with traditional farm practices.

(6)  "Agricultural processing" means the processing of any agricultural product and includes, but is not limited to, the slaughtering and processing of livestock and poultry, the elevation and drying of grain, the processing of sugar cane, and the ginning of cotton.

(7)  "Agricultural product" means crops, livestock, poultry, and aquacultural, floracultural, horticultural, silvicultural, or viticultural products.

(8)  "Agricultural production" means the commercial production of any agricultural products and includes the planting of cover crops, the leaving of land idle for the purpose of participating in government programs, normal crop or livestock rotation procedures, and the use of agricultural support services.

(9)  "Agricultural support services" means the aerial or surface application of seed, fertilizer, pesticides, lime, or other soil amendments; irrigation operations; or custom plowing, soil preparation or leveling, cultivation, or harvesting.

(10)  "Diminution in value" means an existent reduction of twenty percent or more of the fair market value or the economically viable use of, as determined by a qualified appraisal expert, the affected portion of any parcel of private agricultural property or the property rights thereto for agricultural purposes, as a consequence of any regulation, rule, policy, or guideline promulgated for or by any governmental entity.

(11)  "Established date of operation" means the date on which the agricultural operation, including forestry activities, commenced operation.  If the physical facilities of the agricultural operation, including forestry activities, are subsequently expanded, then the established date of operation for each expansion shall be deemed to be a separate and independent "established date of operation" as of the date of commencement of the expanded operation.  The commencement of the expanded operation shall not divest the agricultural operation of the previously established date of operation.

(12)  "Generally accepted agricultural practices" are practices conducted in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards as established and followed by similar agricultural operations in a similar community or locale and under similar circumstances.

(13)  "Governmental action" means annexation of territory by a governmental entity and the issuance of  a rule, regulation, policy, or guideline promulgated for or by any governmental entity, or an order or other legally binding directive having the force of law or capable of being enforced by government.  Governmental action does not mean the following:

(a)  A formal exercise of the power of eminent domain.

(b)  The adoption, enactment, repeal, or amendment of a statute or resolution by the legislature.

(c)  A governmental action directed or mandated by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

(d)  Law enforcement activity involving the seizure or forfeiture of private agricultural property for a violation of law or as evidence in a criminal proceeding.

(e)  An order issued as a result of a violation of law.

(f)  Actions taken to enforce a mortgage or other valid security device.

(g)  Actions taken in compliance with federal law or regulation.

(h)  A result of police power to prohibit activities that are harmful to the public safety and health.

(14)  "Governmental entity" means:

(a)  A board, authority, commission, department, office, or agency of the state government.

(b)  A local governmental subdivision with a population of less than four hundred twenty-five thousand.

(c)  A special purpose district.

(15)  "Owner"  means a person owning an interest in private agricultural property at the time a governmental action becomes effective as to the private agricultural property in which the owner owns an interest.

(16)  "Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation, association or other legal entity.

(17)  "Private agricultural property"  means bona fide agricultural or horticultural land that is assessed as such for parish ad valorem taxes as agricultural lands under homestead exemption that is wholly owned by a private citizen or citizens, or a privately or publicly held corporation, partnership, limited partnership, nonprofit corporation, or other legal entity and that is located outside the corporate limits of any municipality.

(18)  "Traditional farm practices" means those accepted and customary  standards established by similar agricultural operations under similar circumstances using established best management practices.  Best management practices for animal feeding operations and confined animal feeding operations shall be determined by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in conjunction with the LSU AgCenter.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 95, 1; Acts 1995, No. 302, 1; Acts 2008, No. 515, 1.

3603.  Right to Farm

A.  The legislature hereby declares that persons who are engaged in agricultural operations in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices or traditional farm practices should be protected from legal actions brought by persons who subsequently acquire an interest in any land in the vicinity of the agricultural operation and from any nuisance action, public or private, against the agricultural production of an agricultural product or an agricultural operation including but not limited to, agricultural processing, and any agricultural activity involved, directly or indirectly, in the production of food for human consumption or for animal food.

B.  No agricultural operation shall be deemed to be a nuisance in any action brought under the provisions of Civil Code Article 669, R.S. 33:361, R.S. 40:14, or any other grant of authority authorizing the suppression or regulation of public or private nuisances if the agricultural operation is conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices or traditional farm practices, and any one of the following applies:

(1)  The person bringing the action acquired the interest in the land or improvements alleged to be affected by the nuisance after the date on which an agricultural operation was in existence.

(2)  The agricultural operation was established prior to any change in the character of the property in the vicinity of the agricultural operation.

(3)  The agricultural operation has existed for one year or more and the conditions or circumstances alleged to constitute a nuisance have existed substantially unchanged since the established date of operation.

C.  When an agricultural operation has been established, the protection from nuisance actions provided by this Section shall include the protection of similar agricultural operations engaged in as a result of the normal rotation of crops, or livestock, or both.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 95, 1; Acts 2008, No. 515, 1.

3604.  Presumption

Each person engaged in agricultural operations shall be presumed to be operating in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices or traditional farm practices.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 95, 1; Acts 2008, No. 515, 1.

3605.  Frivolous lawsuits

If the court determines that any action alleging that an agricultural operation is a nuisance is frivolous, the court may award costs of court, reasonable attorney fees, and any other related costs to the defendant.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 95, 1.

3606.  Negligence, intentional injury

The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply to actions based on negligence, intentional injury, or violation of state or federal law or rules.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 95, 1.

3607.  Local ordinances

A.  No parish governing authority shall adopt any ordinance that declares any agricultural operation operated in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices or traditional farm practices to be a nuisance or any zoning ordinance that forces the closure of any such agricultural operation.

B.  Municipal zoning and nuisance ordinances shall not apply to agricultural operations that were established outside the corporate limits of the municipality and that were incorporated into the municipality by annexation.

C.  The governing authorities of parishes and municipalities may adopt ordinances to prohibit or regulate agricultural operations that are negligently operated or that are not operated in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices or traditional farm practices.

D.  The provisions of Subsection A of this Section shall not apply to Jefferson Parish.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 95, 1; Acts 1993, No. 731, 1, eff. June 21, 1993; Acts 2008, No. 515, 1.