Governor Noem announces bill for more liability protection for ag operations

South Dakota Ag ConnectionJanuary 20, 2023Agriculture News

PIERRE, SD – Governor Kristi Noem and legislators announced legislation to preserve agriculture.

“Agriculture is by far our state’s largest industry, accounting for one out of every five jobs in South Dakota. We need to preserve it,” said Noem. “When agriculture operations are attacked with frivolous claims, it can delay development and increase costs for producers.”

The prime sponsors of the legislation will be Representative James D. Wangsness (R-23) and Senator Joshua Klumb (R-20).

“Agriculture drives our economy and fuels development in rural South Dakota,” said Wangsness. “This legislation enhances the state’s ag nuisance laws to provide additional protections for our producers while ensuring their ability to continue feeding America.”

This bill provides additional liability protection for agricultural operations in the event that a nuisance claim is filed against them. The bill does so by:

– Setting specific conditions and limitations to compensatory and punitive damages awarded from such a claim;

– Adding “agritourism” to the definition of an agricultural operation;

– Expanding the protected status of agricultural operations by allowing them to change the product they produce to maintain protected status; and,

– Clarifying that the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the nuisance is caused by activity or conduct that does not comply with state or federal environmental laws or regulations. “As a lifelong farmer, my family depends on a fair and level playing field to make ends meet. Our producers need dependability to preserve their operations, so they cannot have frivolous nuisance complaints undermining their work to feed the world,” said Klumb.

South Dakota agriculture is a $32 billion industry. Governor Noem addressed the importance of agriculture in her recent State of the State Address.