- I know what nuisance means to me, but what does it mean legally?
Legally there are several types of nuisances. In the case of hog farms a nuisance is anything that interferes with your reasonable ability to use or enjoy your land.
- What kinds of nuisances do hog farms create for their neighbors?
Odors and contamination are the biggest problems with commercial hog farms. Nuisances commonly caused by hog farms include:
- Airborne pesticides
- Toxic runoff
- Diminished property value
- Property damage
- Contaminated water
- Health problems
- Why are commercial hog farms a source of nuisance?
Occasionally a traditional family hog farm will create a nuisance, but most hog farm nuisance comes from commercial hog farms, which operate more like factories than farms. They raise huge amounts of hogs in cramped, inhumane conditions, rampant with disease. Due to the conditions they use toxic chemicals and massive amounts of antibiotics to try and keep down the diseases. These farms hold thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of hogs at one time. Each hog produces three to five times as much waste as a person creates.
- Can living next to a hog farm make me sick?
Yes. People living near hog farms have reported odors so potent that begin vomiting every time they walk outside, even just trying to get from the house to the car. Of course, odors are just one very obvious way that a hog farm can make you sick. More dangerous is the hidden contamination of your water and soil.
- What kind contamination comes from hog farm waste?
Commercial hog waste contains bacteria, viruses, parasite, drugs (such as antibiotics and other medications), and toxic chemicals including:
- Heavy metals
- Carbon monoxide
- How does this waste spread to neighboring properties?
Hog farm waste gets into groundwater, wells, streams, soil, and the air.
- Can property damage caused by neighboring hog farms be repaired?
Sometimes it can be, if it is caught early. Long-term contamination can permanently ruin the water and soil on your property, making it useless forever and destroying the property value.
- What are “right to farm” laws?
Every state has some kind of right to farm law. In theory these laws are a good thing. They protect existing farms from being unfairly shut down by newcomers moving into an area where farming is already taking place. For instance, without these laws a developer could cheaply buy a large chunk of land and build an up-scale gated community near a farm which has been in operation for over a hundred years and passed down through the same family for several generations, then have the farm shut down for being a nuisance. No one wants to see that happen. Without right to farm laws, no farm would be safe and we could lose our domestic food sources entirely. However, right to farm laws also mean that if you unknowingly purchase land near a commercial hog farm which makes your land useless to you, you may not have any legal recourse.
- I bought property near an existing hog farm, do I still have a case?
Maybe. The best course of action is for you to thoroughly research property before making a purchase. In most cases you cannot sue for hog farm nuisance against a pre-existing farm, due to right to farm laws, but right to farm laws are not a “blank check.” They are only meant to protect farms which operate a reasonable establishment and live up to basic agricultural standards. If the hog farm near you is operating under substandard conditions or there is a radical change in their practices making it far worse than when you purchased your property, you may still have a case. It may not mean shutting down the hog farm, but you may be able to force them to clean up their operation.
If you believe that you may have a hog farm nuisance claim, contact an experienced nuisance lawsuit attorney today.