Bill Designed to Modernize Florida’s Right to Farm Law Moves through First Committee Stop

On Monday, Feb.1, Sen. Jason Brodeur introduced SB 88 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Sanford Republican’s bill would restrict the types of civil lawsuits based on farming activities, require plaintiffs to prove noncompliance with state or federal requirements and limit who may file nuisance lawsuits against farmers.

SB 88 passed with 10 Yeas and 1 Nay and will now go to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

As a reminder, The Florida Right to Farm Act was established in 1979 and has played a key role in protecting the viability of Florida agriculture.  Protecting and strengthening this law has been a priority for Florida Farm Bureau since its inception.

The law currently protects farms from nuisance lawsuits in urbanizing areas.  Essentially, if a farm has been in business for more than a year and conforms to generally accepted agricultural practices it cannot be sued for nuisance by surrounding neighbors. This helps ensure that farms can remain in business without worrying about lawsuits arising from the sights, sounds, smells, etc. that are commonplace in production agriculture.

Because of recent judicial rulings in other states, several areas in Florida’s Right to Farm Law have been identified that could be strengthened.  SB 88 would strengthen protections afforded to Florida agriculture as the state continues to urbanize.

Adam Basford, Director of Legislative Affairs for Florida Farm Bureau spoke in support of the bill. You can see the full video below: (Sen. Brodeur minutes – 1:05:09. Adam Basford minutes – 1:36:35)

Statement from Senate President Wilton Simpson Regarding the Right to Farm Bill

Senate President Wilton Simpson has signaled that SB 88 will be a top priority:

“We frequently update our laws to recognize changes in other industries, and I want to make sure our hardworking Florida farmers aren’t left behind. The Senate is committed to preserving Florida’s farms, legacy businesses that contribute to our nation’s food supply and billions of dollars to our state’s economy,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), a lifelong farmer.”

To read the full press release, see below:

HB 7 – Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19

On Wednesday, February 3, HB 7 by Representative Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City) was heard by the House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee and was reported favorable with 11 yeas and 6 nays.

The bill provides civil immunity from COVID-19 liability to businesses, educational institutions, religious institutions, governmental entities, and other covered entities that acted in good faith during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill protects reasonably-acting entities and institutions so that they can predict their COVID-19-related litigation risks, remain viable, and continue to contribute to the state’s well-being.

HB 7 will now go to the House Judiciary Committee.