STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2014 SESSION
Assemblyman JOHN DIMAIO
District 23 (Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren)
Assemblyman JACK M. CIATTARELLI
District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)
Assemblyman JOHN J. BURZICHELLI
District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)
Assemblywoman McHose and Assemblyman Fiocchi
Allows commercial farmer to recover reasonable costs and attorney fees of defending against unreasonable complaints under “Right to Farm Act.”
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel
An Act concerning the filing of complaints about farming activities, and supplementing P.L.1983, c.31 (C.4:1C-1 et seq.).
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. A respondent who prevails in an action brought pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1998, c.48 (C.4:1C-10.1) because the commercial agricultural operation, activity or structure is found to be entitled to the irrebuttable presumption established in section 7 of P.L.1983, c.31 (C.4:1C-10) shall be awarded reasonable costs and attorney fees to be paid by the complainant upon a determination that the complaint was brought in bad faith.
A respondent seeking an award under this section shall submit an application to the county board or committee detailing the costs and attorney fees incurred in the defense of the complaint. If the county board or committee determines that the complaint was brought in bad faith, the county board or committee shall determine if the costs and attorney fees, or a portion thererof, are reasonable, and shall issue an order requiring the complainant to pay the reasonable costs and attorney fees.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would strengthen the legal protections provided to farmers under the “Right to Farm Act.” Specifically, the bill would allow farmers to recover reasonable costs and attorney fees incurred in the defense of bad faith complaints against commercial agricultural operations, activities or structures:
1) found to conform to an agricultural management practice recommended by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC); or
2) whose specific operation or practice has been determined by the committee or the appropriate county agriculture development board to constitute a generally accepted agricultural operation or practice; and 3) which does not violate any relevant State or federal law nor pose a direct threat to public health and safety.