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$50 Million awarded in NC hog farm case — wake-up call to ag

May 15, 2018

Southwest Farm Press,

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet,

May 14, 2018-

In recent weeks, the big buzz in agricultural law was a verdict in North Carolina, finding a Smithfield Foods subsidiary liable for nuisance and awarding $50 million in damages to neighboring landowners. Today, we will take a look at that case, discuss why the Right to Farm statute did not apply, and consider how this might have played out in Texas.

Smithfield Foods and subsidiary Murphy Brown, LLC contracts with a number of hog farmers in North Carolina to raise pigs.  Each farm raises the animals, but the animals are technically owned by Murphy Brown.  Neighboring landowners claim that odors, tractor and truck traffic, and pests caused by the hog farms are affecting their quality of life, property values, and use of their property. For example, in the first case to go to trial, claims were made by neighbors of Kinlaw Farm, a 15,000 head production facility.  Importantly, plaintiffs did not prove that the farms were operating in violation of any permit or law.

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