Ag News

Freedom to Farm Act receives final passage in Georgia Legislature

The Georgia General Assembly has passed the Freedom to Farm Act  - Georgia Farm Bureau’s (GFB) 2022 spotlight issue. After the Senate passed the bill with a minor change on April 1, final passage was secured with an agree vote in the House on April 4, the final day of the 2022 Legislative Session, also called Sine Die. With this vote of 106-60, HB 1150 received final passage and is on its way to the Governor’s desk where it must now be signed into law.

“Georgia Farm Bureau has long believed that Georgia farmers have the right to make a living without fear of being sued out of business for nuisance over normal farming practices," said GFB President Tom McCall. "The Freedom to Farm Bill protects that right for producers who operate in the way they are supposed to, in the places they are supposed to. We’re grateful that our state lawmakers understand the importance of protecting Georgia’s largest industry and we thank those who supported this bill. I especially want to thank the GFB Public Policy team, which led the effort along with other ag organizations to help protect the future of our younger generations who want to farm.”

Despite a great deal of opposition coming from environmental groups and others, GFB and allied agricultural organizations were able to dispel much of the false information being pushed about the motivation for this bill.

The legislation was heard a total of five times by the House and Senate Agriculture committees, with each committee making changes to balance the rights of farmers and neighbors while still ensuring strong protections for agriculture against nuisance lawsuits. The Freedom to Farm Act has been many years in the making and will pay off for many years to come as the ever-changing landscape of Georgia presents additional challenges to our state’s farm families. 

HB 1150 will provide agricultural operations with protection after two years of operating so long as they are complying with all laws, rules, regulations, and local zoning ordinances. Nothing in this bill negates any environmental law or the ability of local governments to determine where farms can be located and operate.

The bill even resets the 2-year window of opportunity for someone to bring a nuisance suit if a farm starts a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).

GFB would like to thank the chairmen of each Agriculture Committee, Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) and Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry), for their hard work and dedication in getting this bill across the finish line. This undertaking took the collective efforts of many other agricultural organizations including the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, Georgia Forestry Association, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Georgia Green Industry Association, Georgia Milk Producers, Georgia Poultry Federation, and the Georgia Urban Ag Council, as well as other state business partners including the National Federation of Independent Business and the Georgia Chamber. 

GFB would also like to thank all the GFB members who actively engaged alongside us by getting in touch with their legislators to advocate for this issue. Without the strong grassroots support of our members, major legislative efforts like this one would not be possible.