Last month's Iowa Supreme Court ruling further restricts the rights of property owners to sue a factory farm for damages from nuisance and trespass.
In a 4-3 decision, the high court reversed a 2004 ruling on Iowa’s Right to Farm law that initially granted CAFOs immunity from nuisance lawsuits. The 2004 ruling called the CAFO immunity a violation of neighbors’ inalienable rights as provided in the Iowa Constitution and struck it down.
Now the court says the 2004 ruling was wrong and restored lawsuit immunity to factory farms. Damages resulting from violations of state or federal laws or regulations, or from not using widely accepted practices, are the only exceptions. This makes a legitimate lawsuit extremely difficult to pursue or win.
“…[P]rotecting and promoting livestock production is a legitimate state interest, and granting partial immunity from nuisance suits is a proper means to that end,” wrote Justice Thomas Waterman. He placed the responsibility for balancing industry and community interests with the Iowa State Legislature.
Since this ruling makes filing and winning a legitimate lawsuit nearly impossible, the Iowa State Legislature must pass laws to protect Iowans from factory farm harms.
The immediate enactment of a factory farm moratorium is more important than ever.
Laws must also be put in place to protect the inalienable right of Iowans to protect their property, health, and quality of life. We need legislators to work for Iowans, not Big Ag. Your wellbeing is most certainly a legitimate public interest that should be respected by the Iowa legislature.
The Iowa Supreme Court let Iowans down. Now it’s up to Iowans to make it right.
We are not powerless. We can continue to build momentum for a moratorium. We can and must continue to exert widespread public pressure on our legislators to do the right thing for Iowans.
We must urge our legislators to take decisive action, and we must not let up.
There are several things that you can do. Any action you can take helps to build momentum.
Here Are the Top Four
1. Call and write your legislators and ask where they stand on a factory farm moratorium. If they are opposed, ask what would it take for them to support the bill. Meet in person if you can. Find your legislators here.
2. Explain exactly why you support a factory farm moratorium and that your interests should not come second to those of Big Ag. If you have a story to tell about living near a CAFO, share it.
3. Ask your representative to co-sponsor Rep. Art Staed’s moratorium bill when it’s reintroduced in 2023. Ask your senator to sponsor a Senate version of the bill – or to co-sponsor one that is introduced.
4. Urge your legislators to watch The People’s Hearing organized by the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture. IARA’s YouTube channel contains the full event as well the individual presentations from a wide swath of community members, farmers, and experts testifying on why Iowa needs a factory farm moratorium now. It provides a full picture of how factory farms damage Iowa.
Want to Do More?
5. Talk about this issue with your family and friends. Ask them to contact their state legislators too.
6. Write a letter to the editor about this issue. The Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture's fact sheet contains many excellent talking points.
7. Attend candidate forums leading up to the November election. Ask where your candidates stand on a moratorium and explain its importance.
8. Vote for candidates that are willing to support a moratorium. Vote out those that aren’t. All 100 representatives and 34 senators are up for reelection.
9. Donate to candidates that support a moratorium. Let them know you are doing that.
10. Want to know who donates to your legislators? Check out FollowtheMoney.org.
And this - Share this action alert widely.
You can do one, two or all of these action steps. Anything you can do, big and small, will help us reach our goal.
Photo: Photo:PhotoPhotPhoPhPMost importantly – don’t give up and keep it up! It will take time and effort, but with persistence we will eventually achieve a moratorium. Let’s work together to get there as quickly as we can.Photo: