Legislature votes to override veto of farm nuisance remedies bill

Legislators voted along party lines, 74-40, to override the veto of the bill which they say protects small family farms

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
The floor of theHouse of Representatives in the N.C. General Assembly. (file photo)

RALEIGH — The N.C. Senate voted Thursday to override Governor Roy Cooper’s latest veto, following an override vote by the N.C. House Wednesday and the bill is now law notwithstanding the governor’s objection. The Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies, H.B. 467, will cap the damages property owners can collect in specific lawsuits against neighboring farms or forestry operations. The amount of money that could be awarded in a lawsuit would be no more than the value of the farm.House members voted mostly along party lines as seven Democrats joined nearly all chamber Republicans in the 74-40 vote to override the veto of the bill which they say protects small family farms from being sued into bankruptcy and discourages frivolous lawsuits. Cooper and opponents of the bill say it amounts to special protections for the agriculture industry and poses a risk to the environment.”Special protection for one industry opens the door to weakening our nuisance laws in other areas, which can allow real harm to homeowners, the environment and everyday North Carolinians,” said Copper in a statement after the veto.The N.C. Senate followed suit on Thursday, overriding Cooper’s veto resulting in the bill becoming law upon conclusion of the vote.The resident farmer of the upper chamber, Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson) who farms watermelons among other crops, was encouraged that farmers’ livelihoods would now have more protection under the law.”While I respectfully disagree with Gov. Cooper’s veto of HB 467, I am incredibly pleased that this bill providing legal certainty to family farmers and the thousands of North Carolinians who earn their living in the agriculture industry is now law,” said Jackson. “This is a victory for farmers and our rural communities.”Supporters of the bill say it protects family farms from costly lawsuits. Agriculture is one of the state’s leading industries contributing more than $84 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product. According to the N.C Department of Agriculture there are 48,000 farms in N.C., the majority of which are small and employ seventeen percent of the state workforce. Republicans have a veto-proof majority in both chambers of the legislature. Cooper has now had all four of his vetoes so far in his tenure overridden by the state legislature.