Iowa bill limits damages in livestock nuisance lawsuits

Photo courtesy Nutrient Advisors

Nuisance lawsuits against Iowa livestock producers are the focus of legislation approved this week by the Iowa Senate.

The bill would put new limits on damages a court could order in such lawsuits. State Senator Dan Zumbach says some banks are reluctant to loan money to livestock producers because of the threat of nuisance lawsuits.

“This bill is about a young gentleman or lady coming out of Iowa State University, educated well and ready to go into the livestock industry,” Zumbach says, “and having the ability to go to a bank that will loan that person money and feel comfortable with that loan to start them in the livestock industry.”

Zumbach says the bill would provide more legal protection to producers who are “prudent” and “reasonable”, but not those considered to be “bad actors”.

But Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg says the bill is “fundamentally unfair”.

“This is about people’s dreams and their lives,” Hogg said. “What they don’t want is to have somebody come in unfettered and have a nuisance put in next to them and be told when they try to do something about it: ‘You know what? Your rights don’t matter. The fact that you were there first doesn’t matter’.”

The bill passed with the support of 31 of the 50 state senators. It must clear the House Ag Committee by the end of March or it will no longer be eligible for consideration by lawmakers this year.

Radio Iowa contributed to this story.

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