WA Farm Bureau
On Feb. 14, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee approved a right-to-farm bill intended to strengthen the law protecting farms from nuisance complaints.
Last fall, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of an attorney who sued after his neighbor changed from growing apples to cherries. The attorney built his home next to the apple orchard, which he found attractive. He did not like the cherry orchard.
Views of farmland are attractive to new neighbors, but sometimes the new neighbors begin complaining about noise, odors, slow farm vehicles, lights, and other aspects of farms that they did not consider when they moved into the farm area.
The right-to-farm law is intended to inform people of these aspects of farming before they move next to a farm and to clarify that customary farm practices are not considered to be nuisances.
HB 1648 is sponsored by Rep. Brian Sullivan (D-Mukilteo), who is also the chair of the committee that heard testimony on the bill. SB 5076, sponsored by Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), has been heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee and awaits a vote. Farm Bureau strongly supports both bills.
The Valentine’s Day greetings from Chairman Sullivan were too much for Farm Bureau Local Affairs Director Dan Wood to resist. After presenting background and testimony on the bill, Wood concluded his testimony with a Valentine’s poem:
Roses -- and some cherries -- are red.
Blueberries are blue.
Farmers are harassed by lawyers who sue.
We have seen that farming sometimes stops
When neighbors complain about changing of crops.
The Supreme Court ruling has rung the alarm.
It’s time to strengthen our right to farm.
I apologize for this poetic mess.
I won’t be Lynn Kessler’s poet laureate, I guess.
Rep. Lynn Kessler (D-Hoquiam) has sponsored legislation creating a state poet laureate. Farm Bureau has not taken a position on that legislation.