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Nuisance Suit Favors Producer

A 300-head, Madison County, IA, hog producer has won the first step of a nuisance suit, says Doug Gross, an Iowa attorney whose firm has represented the farm couple at no cost.

A Polk County District Court judge has ruled that Tim and Glenna Camp can invoke a state statute which protects their operation from frivolous lawsuits because their operation is managed according to generally accepted practices.

“This is a big step toward a common-sense solution to one of the largest challenges facing rural Iowa,” says Gross. “It is promising news for Iowa’s family farmers whose livelihoods have been threatened by people who choose to move near long-time agricultural operations.”

The Camps have raised hogs near Winterset, IA, since 1992, and spread manure each spring and fall on adjacent fields.

In 1996, a Des Moines couple, Wayne and Barbara Tetzlaff, purchased land near the farm. They built a house directly across from the Camp’s barn in 1999. Then in 2003, the Tetzlaffs sued for unspecified damages, alleging the Camps failed to control odor and flies from the manure applications.

Iowa law provides nuisance suit immunity to livestock producers who operate by industry standards. The Iowa Supreme Court upheld the law in a June 2004 ruling. The higher court said the law would be applied on a case-by-case basis, using such factors as which party was in place first.