NewsAugust 28, 2020

The Sprout || Battle Royale in the country.

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Rural America – so bucolic, so peaceful, those amber waves of grain blowing gently in the wind…

Or not. These days the American countryside is full of high drama and high stakes. Neighbors pitted against neighbors over the stink of confined animal feeding operations. Organic crops wilting to their death from dicamba drifting over from conventional crops upwind. Differing farm practices are proving to be incompatible.

This is perhaps an unfair picture to paint. The countryside is still beautiful, and it is still calm. Mostly. But these neighbor conflicts are becoming increasingly frequent and the consequences can be devastating. 

Let’s take two different court cases, both in the breadbasket of America, and both appearing in Penn State’s Agricultural Law Weekly. One concerns the problems with dicamba-based herbicides drifting onto neighboring fields and ruining  crops all across the Midwest. The other concerns a hog confinement operation in Indiana. These are very different issues, of course, but the theme is really the same – balancing the freedom of one farmer to farm the way they want to, with ensuring they don’t negatively impact the farmer next door. In the dicamba case, the court told Bayer/Monsanto earlier this summer that it can’t sell its dicamba products anymore because they are too harmful. (Bayer/Monsanto asked for a rehearing but that was just denied.) On the other hand, in the Indiana case, so far the court has declared that the noxious emissions from the hog operation do not constitute nuisance, negligence and trespass. 

This isn’t the end of the story, however. A writ of certiorari has been filed and the confinement case is off to the Supremes now, so it is yet to be determined how the stink will come out in the end. And in the dicamba matter? This is likely not the last we’ll hear from Monsanto (now Bayer) on this matter…

If you or someone you know is subject to chemical drift, check out our tipsheet for quick action steps that need to be taken for legal protection. If you know farm law in America, you can bet insurance will somehow be involved!

 

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