Right-to-farm laws are designed to accomplish one or both of the following objectives: (1) to strengthen the legal position of farmers when neighbors sue them for private nuisance; and (2) to protect farmers from anti-nuisance ordinances and unreasonable controls on farming operations. Most laws include a number of additional protections. Right-to-farm provisions may also be included in state zoning enabling laws, and farmers with land enrolled in an agricultural district may have stronger right-to-farm protection than other farmers. A growing number of counties and municipalities are passing their own right-to-farm legislation to supplement the protection provided by state law. This fact sheet provides basic information on right-to-farm laws.
The common law of nuisance forbids individuals from using their property in a way that causes harm to others. A private nuisance refers to an activity that interferes with an individual's reasonable use or enjoyment of his or her property. A public nuisance is an activity that threatens the public health, safety or welfare, or damages community resources, such as public roads, parks and water supplies.