Agriculture Committee Report – week 9, 2017

SF 447 – Nuisance protection for animal feeding operations
SF 456 – Regional water authorities
SF 329 – Establishing industrial hemp within IDALS
SF 357 – Electrical licensing
SF 362 – County fairs & State Fair not liable for damages from animal pathogens



SF 447 establishes a new section in the Iowa Code, 657.11A. It will not change the current Animal Feeding Operations nuisance defense passed in 1998, which was found unconstitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court on a case-by-case basis in 2004.

The purpose of nuisance protection is to encourage producers to “adopt existing prudent and generally utilized management practices” for animal feeding operations. Nuisance lawsuits under the new section are presumed to be permanent nuisances (meaning there cannot be successive lawsuits filed for the same alleged nuisance) and any compensatory damages awarded by a judge or jury cannot exceed:

  • Any decrease in the fair market value of the property (residence, etc.).
  • Any compensatory medical damages, if the nuisance is the proximate cause of an adverse medical condition.
  • Any special damages (annoyance and loss of comfortable use and enjoyment of property), which are limited to no more than 1.5 times the decrease in fair market value of property plus medical damages.

A producer qualifies for nuisance protection unless the person suing can prove that the producer did not comply with state and federal law or did not use existing prudent and generally utilized management practices reasonable for the operation.

The bill also allows for costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney fees, to be awarded to the producer if the person suing fails to prove that there was a nuisance. The bill will provide nuisance protection for animal feeding operations as defined in Iowa Code Chapter 459, which includes confinement feeding operations and open feedlot operations. A habitual violator of Iowa environmental law under Chapter 459 does not qualify for nuisance protection.
[3/2: 10-3 (Hart, Ragan, Taylor “no”)]


SF 456 eliminates the five-member Des Moines Water Works board appointed by the Des Moines Mayor and replaces the board with a regional board appointed by Des Moines and its suburban neighbors. This authority will would shift control of the public utility’s assets to local municipalities. It also halts planning, design or construction of new water utilities until July 1, 2018, and places a temporary block to efforts by other suburban cities to move forward with water-line extensions and water-treatment plans.
[3/2: 8-5]


SF 329 establishes industrial hemp as commodity program administered by the Iowa Department Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS). It specifically allows for growing, cultivating and marketing industrial hemp. A person is prohibited from producing, handling, transporting, marketing or processing industrial hemp in Iowa unless involved in the IDALS program.
[3/2: short form]



SF 357 codifies Iowa Code with the Department of Public Safety’s special order of June 2012 by creating a definition for commercial electrical installation that does not include farm or industrial installation.
[3/6: 36-14]


SF 362 exempts damages and liability from district and county fairs and the Iowa State Fair sought by a person who alleges an injury or death caused by a pathogen transmitted from an animal. This applies to spectators and participants. If signs are posted, there is no liability.
[3/8: 48-0 (Bisignano “no”; Chelgren excused)]