Florida Senate - 2021 CS for CS for SB 88
By the Committees on Environment and Natural Resources; and
Judiciary; and Senators Brodeur, Baxley, Albritton, and Perry
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to farming operations; amending s.
3 823.14, F.S.; revising legislative findings; defining
4 the term “agritourism activity”; revising definitions;
5 prohibiting farms from being held liable for certain
6 claims for tort liability except under certain
7 circumstances; providing a burden of proof;
8 prohibiting nuisance actions from being filed against
9 farm operations unless specified conditions are met;
10 providing requirements for and limitations on damages;
11 providing that plaintiffs who bring nuisance actions
12 against farm operations are liable for certain costs
13 and expenses under certain conditions; amending ss.
14 193.4517, 316.5501, 633.202, and 812.015, F.S.;
15 conforming cross-references; reenacting ss.
16 163.3162(2)(b), 163.3163(3)(b), 403.9337(4), and
17 570.86(4), F.S., relating to agricultural lands and
18 practices, applications for development permits and
19 disclosure and acknowledgment of contiguous
20 sustainable agricultural land, Model Ordinance for
21 Florida-Friendly Fertilizer Use on Urban Landscapes,
22 and definitions relating to agritourism, respectively,
23 to incorporate the amendments made by this act to s.
24 823.14, F.S., in references thereto; providing an
25 effective date.
27 WHEREAS, all 50 U.S. states have enacted “Right to Farm”
28 laws that protect farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits
29 filed by individuals who move into a rural area where normal
30 farming operations exist and then use legal actions to stop or
31 interfere with ongoing farming operations, and
32 WHEREAS, Florida’s Right to Farm legislation was enacted in
33 1979 to protect agricultural operations from these types of
34 actions and is in need of updating, and
35 WHEREAS, as our state continues to experience unprecedented
36 growth and as residential development continues to encroach upon
37 our rural areas, there is a possibility for increased complaints
38 regarding farming practices approved by the Department of
39 Environmental Protection and the Department of Agriculture and
40 Consumer Services, such as harvesting, transporting crops, and
41 conducting controlled burning, despite the use of best
42 management practices, and
43 WHEREAS, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an
44 increasing exodus from more densely populated areas from both
45 within and outside this state into our rural communities,
46 potentially creating conflicts with existing legal farming
47 activities and their complementary agritourism activities, and
48 WHEREAS, there is a longstanding tradition of using
49 agritourism activities, such as hayrides, corn mazes, winery
50 tours, and farm festivals, to supplement income received from
51 growing crops and raising farm animals, and
52 WHEREAS, ensuring the potential for revenues from
53 agritourism activities is necessary to preserve farms and the
54 rural character of many areas in the face of rising costs and
55 foreign competition and the many uncertainties associated with
56 growing crops and raising farm animals, and
57 WHEREAS, it is timely and prudent to modernize the Florida
58 Right to Farm Act by clarifying definitions, standing, and
59 procedures in order to ensure that the original intent of
60 Florida’s Right to Farm law is preserved and a viable
61 agricultural industry in this state can continue, NOW,
64 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
66 Section 1. Subsections (2), (3), and (4) of section 823.14,
67 Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsections (7), (8), and (9)
68 are added to that section, to read:
69 823.14 Florida Right to Farm Act.—
70 (2) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.—The Legislature finds
71 that agricultural production is a major contributor to the
72 economy of the state; that agricultural lands constitute unique
73 and irreplaceable resources of statewide importance; that the
74 continuation of agricultural activities preserves the landscape
75 and environmental resources of the state, contributes to the
76 increase of tourism, including agritourism, and furthers the
77 economic self-sufficiency of the people of the state; and that
78 the encouragement, development, improvement, and preservation of
79 agriculture will result in a general benefit to the health and
80 welfare of the people of the state. The Legislature further
81 finds that agricultural activities conducted on farm land in
82 urbanizing areas are potentially subject to lawsuits based on
83 the theory of nuisance and that these suits encourage and even
84 force the premature removal of the farm land from agricultural
85 use. It is the purpose of this act to protect reasonable
86 agricultural and complementary agritourism activities conducted
87 on farm land from nuisance suits and other similar lawsuits.
88 (3) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section:
89 (a) “Agritourism activity” has the same meaning as provided
90 in s. 570.86.
91 (b) “Farm” means the land, buildings, support facilities,
92 machinery, and other appurtenances used in the production of
93 farm or aquaculture products.
(b) “Farm operation” means all conditions or activities
95 by the owner, lessee, agent, independent contractor, and
96 supplier which occur on a farm in connection with the production
97 of farm, honeybee, or apiculture products or in connection with
98 complementary agritourism activities. These conditions and
99 activities include, but are and includes , but i s not limited to,
100 the marketing of produce at roadside stands or farm markets; the
101 operation of machinery and irrigation pumps; the generation of
102 noise, odors, dust, fumes, and particle emissions and fumes;
103 ground or aerial seeding and spraying; the placement and
104 operation of an apiary; the application of chemical fertilizers,
105 conditioners, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides;
106 agritourism activities; and the employment and use of labor.
107 (d) (c) “Farm product” means any plant, as defined in s.
108 581.011, or animal or insect useful to humans and includes, but
109 is not limited to, any product derived therefrom.
110 (e) (d) “Established date of operation” means the date the
111 farm operation commenced. For an agritourism activity, the term
112 “established date of operation” means the date the specific
113 agritourism activity commenced. If the farm operation is
114 subsequently expanded within the original boundaries of the farm
115 land, the established date of operation of the expansion shall
116 also be considered as the date the original farm operation
117 commenced. If the land boundaries of the farm are subsequently
118 expanded, the established date of operation for each expansion
119 is deemed to be a separate and independent established date of
120 operation. The expanded operation shall not divest the farm
121 operation of a previous established date of operation.
122 (4) FARM OPERATIONS; NUISANCE FARM OPERATION NOT TO BE OR
123 BECOME A NUISANCE.—
124 (a) No farm operation which has been in operation for 1
125 year or more since its established date of operation and which
126 was not a nuisance at the time of its established date of
127 operation shall be a public or private nuisance if the farm
128 operation conforms to generally accepted agricultural and
129 management practices, except that the following conditions shall
130 constitute evidence of a nuisance:
131 1. The presence of untreated or improperly treated human
132 waste, garbage, offal, dead animals, dangerous waste materials,
133 or gases which are harmful to human or animal life.
134 2. The presence of improperly built or improperly
135 maintained septic tanks, water closets, or privies.
136 3. The keeping of diseased animals which are dangerous to
137 human health, unless such animals are kept in accordance with a
138 current state or federal disease control program.
139 4. The presence of unsanitary places where animals are
140 slaughtered, which may give rise to diseases which are harmful
141 to human or animal life.
142 (b) No farm operation shall become a public or private
143 nuisance as a result of a change in ownership, a change in the
144 type of farm product being produced, a change in conditions in
145 or around the locality of the farm, or a change brought about to
146 comply with best management practices adopted by local, state,
147 or federal agencies if such farm has been in operation for 1
148 year or more since its established date of operation and if it
149 was not a nuisance at the time of its established date of
151 (c) A farm may not be held liable for a claim involving
152 public or private nuisance, negligence, trespass, personal
153 injury, strict liability, or other tort based on a farm
154 operation that is alleged to cause harm outside of the farm
155 unless the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence
156 that the claim arises out of conduct that did not comply with
157 state and federal environmental laws, regulations, or best
158 management practices.
159 (d) A nuisance action may not be filed against a farm
160 operation unless the real property affected by the conditions
161 alleged to be a nuisance is located within one-half mile of the
162 source of the activity or structure alleged to be a nuisance.
163 (7) COMPENSATORY DAMAGES.—When the alleged nuisance
164 emanated from a farm operation, the compensatory damages that
165 may be awarded to a plaintiff for a private nuisance action must
166 be measured by the reduction in the fair market value of the
167 plaintiff’s property caused by the nuisance, but may not exceed
168 the fair market value of the property.
169 (8) PUNITIVE DAMAGES.—A plaintiff may not recover punitive
170 damages in a private nuisance action against a farm unless:
171 (a) The alleged nuisance is based on substantially the same
172 conduct that resulted in a criminal conviction or a civil
173 enforcement action by a state or federal environmental
174 regulatory agency; and
175 (b) The conviction or enforcement action occurred within 3
176 years of the first act forming the basis of the nuisance action.
177 (9) NUISANCE ACTIONS BASED ON EXISTING FARM OPERATIONS.—A
178 plaintiff who fails to prevail in a nuisance action based on a
179 farm operation that has been in existence for 1 year or more
180 before the date that the action was instituted and that conforms
181 with generally accepted agricultural and management practices or
182 state and federal environmental laws is liable to the farm for
183 all costs and expenses incurred in defense of the action.
184 Section 2. Paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of
185 section 193.4517, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
186 193.4517 Assessment of agricultural equipment rendered
187 unable to be used due to Hurricane Michael.—
188 (1) As used in this section, the term:
189 (a) “Farm” has the same meaning as provided in s.
190 823.14(3)(b) s. 823.14(3)(a).
191 (b) “Farm operation” has the same meaning as provided in s.
192 823.14(3)(c) s. 823.14(3)(b).
193 Section 3. Subsection (1) of section 316.5501, Florida
194 Statutes, is amended to read:
195 316.5501 Permitting program for combination truck tractor,
196 semitrailer, and trailer combination coupled as a single unit
197 subject to certain requirements.—
198 (1) By no later than January 1, 2020, the Department of
199 Transportation in conjunction with the Department of Highway
200 Safety and Motor Vehicles shall develop a permitting program
201 that, notwithstanding any other provision of law except
202 conflicting federal law and applicable provisions of s. 316.550,
203 prescribes the operation of any combination of truck tractor,
204 semitrailer, and trailer combination coupled together so as to
205 operate as a single unit in which the semitrailer and the
206 trailer unit may each be up to 48 feet in length, but not less
207 than 28 feet in length, if such truck tractor, semitrailer, and
208 trailer combination is:
209 (a) Being used for the primary purpose of transporting farm
210 products as defined in s. 823.14(3)(d) s. 823.14(3)(c) on a
211 prescribed route within the boundary of the Everglades
212 Agricultural Area as described in s. 373.4592(15);
213 (b) Traveling on a prescribed route that has been submitted
214 to and approved by the Department of Transportation for public
215 safety purposes having taken into account, at a minimum, the
216 point of origin, destination, traffic and pedestrian volume on
217 the route, turning radius at intersections along the route, and
218 potential for damage to roadways or bridges on the route;
219 (c) Operating only on state or local roadways within a
220 radius of 60 miles from where such truck tractor, semitrailer,
221 and trailer combination was loaded; however, travel is not
222 authorized on the Interstate Highway System; and
223 (d) Meeting the following weight limitations:
224 1. The maximum gross weight of the truck tractor and the
225 first trailer shall not exceed 88,000 pounds.
226 2. The maximum gross weight of the dolly and second trailer
227 shall not exceed 67,000 pounds.
228 3. The maximum overall gross weight of the truck tractor
229 semitrailer-trailer combination shall not exceed 155,000 pounds.
230 Section 4. Paragraph (b) of subsection (16) of section
231 633.202, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
232 633.202 Florida Fire Prevention Code.—
234 (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law:
235 1. A nonresidential farm building in which the occupancy is
236 limited by the property owner to no more than 35 persons is
237 exempt from the Florida Fire Prevention Code, including the
238 national codes and Life Safety Code incorporated by reference.
239 2. An agricultural pole barn is exempt from the Florida
240 Fire Prevention Code, including the national codes and the Life
241 Safety Code incorporated by reference.
242 3. Except for an agricultural pole barn, a structure on a
243 farm, as defined in s. 823.14(3)(b) s. 823.14(3)(a), which is
244 used by an owner for agritourism activity, as defined in s.
245 570.86, for which the owner receives consideration must be
246 classified in one of the following classes:
247 a. Class 1: A nonresidential farm building that is used by
248 the owner 12 or fewer times per year for agritourism activity
249 with up to 100 persons occupying the structure at one time. A
250 structure in this class is subject to annual inspection for
251 classification by the local authority having jurisdiction. This
252 class is not subject to the Florida Fire Prevention Code but is
253 subject to rules adopted by the State Fire Marshal pursuant to
254 this section.
255 b. Class 2: A nonresidential farm building that is used by
256 the owner for agritourism activity with up to 300 persons
257 occupying the structure at one time. A structure in this class
258 is subject to annual inspection for classification by the local
259 authority having jurisdiction. This class is not subject to the
260 Florida Fire Prevention Code but is subject to rules adopted by
261 the State Fire Marshal pursuant to this section.
262 c. Class 3: A structure or facility that is used primarily
263 for housing, sheltering, or otherwise accommodating members of
264 the general public. A structure or facility in this class is
265 subject to annual inspection for classification by the local
266 authority having jurisdiction. This class is subject to the
267 Florida Fire Prevention Code.
268 Section 5. Paragraph (g) of subsection (1) of section
269 812.015, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
270 812.015 Retail and farm theft; transit fare evasion;
271 mandatory fine; alternative punishment; detention and arrest;
272 exemption from liability for false arrest; resisting arrest;
274 (1) As used in this section:
275 (g) “Farm theft” means the unlawful taking possession of
276 any items that are grown or produced on land owned, rented, or
277 leased by another person. The term includes the unlawful taking
278 possession of equipment and associated materials used to grow or
279 produce farm products as defined in s. 823.14(3)(d) s.
281 Section 6. For the purpose of incorporating the amendments
282 made by this act to section 823.14, Florida Statutes, in a
283 reference thereto, paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section
284 163.3162, Florida Statutes, is reenacted to read:
285 163.3162 Agricultural Lands and Practices.—
286 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
287 (b) “Farm operation” has the same meaning as provided in s.
289 Section 7. For the purpose of incorporating the amendments
290 made by this act to section 823.14, Florida Statutes, in a
291 reference thereto, paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of section
292 163.3163, Florida Statutes, is reenacted to read:
293 163.3163 Applications for development permits; disclosure
294 and acknowledgment of contiguous sustainable agricultural land.—
295 (3) As used in this section, the term:
296 (b) “Farm operation” has the same meaning as defined in s.
298 Section 8. For the purpose of incorporating the amendments
299 made by this act to section 823.14, Florida Statutes, in a
300 reference thereto, subsection (4) of section 403.9337, Florida
301 Statutes, is reenacted to read:
302 403.9337 Model Ordinance for Florida-Friendly Fertilizer
303 Use on Urban Landscapes.—
304 (4) This section does not apply to the use of fertilizer on
305 farm operations as defined in s. 823.14 or on lands classified
306 as agricultural lands pursuant to s. 193.461.
307 Section 9. For the purpose of incorporating the amendments
308 made by this act to section 823.14, Florida Statutes, in a
309 reference thereto, subsection (4) of section 570.86, Florida
310 Statutes, is reenacted to read:
311 570.86 Definitions.—As used in ss. 570.85-570.89, the term:
312 (4) “Farm operation” has the same meaning as in s. 823.14.
313 Section 10. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.