News Preserving the Right to Farm: Alabama’s Family Farm Preservation Act

Preserving the Right to Farm: Alabama’s Family Farm Preservation Act

Preserving the Right to Farm: Alabama’s Family Farm Preservation Act
March 1, 2023 |

To protect family operations’ right to farm, the Alabama Farmers Federation scored a landmark legislative win in 2010 — the Alabama Family Farm Preservation Act (ALFFPA), an increasingly important law as farmers battle urban sprawl in historically rural areas.

Right-to-farm laws are now active in all 50 states and protect farmers from neighbors who move into a rural area where normal farming operations (and associated sights and smells) exist and who later use nuisance lawsuits to try and stop those farm operations.

Nuisance suits can be brought by an individual, city or county that declares someone a “public nuisance.” 

What Is A Nuisance Lawsuit?

A nuisance lawsuit occurs when one property owner accuses another property owner of “interfering or inhibiting the quiet use and enjoyment of their own property.” 

For example, a person living in a neighborhood next to a farm might be frustrated about the amount of noise and dust the farm generates. If that person feels strongly enough about the noise and dust, they might sue the farmer for nuisance. If a court finds the farmer interfered with the neighbor’s “quiet use and enjoyment of their property,” the court could award the neighbor damages. The farmer would then be forced to pay the neighbor a potentially large sum of money because of the noise and dust.

ALFFPA helps prevent that.

In a more serious scenario, the neighbor could request an injunction to stop the farmer from engaging in the activity that generates the noise and dust. If the court granted the neighbor’s request, the farmer might be forced to cease farming altogether. At the very least, the farmer might have to alter their operation in a way that could be detrimental to his or her livelihood.

ALFFPA helps prevent that, too.

Alabama Law

Alabama’s right-to-farm law provides immunity from nuisance lawsuits to farms that have been in operation for at least one year, so long as the farmer:

λ Avoids engaging in a careless or wrongful manner and avoids improperly operating the farm.

λ Is actively involved in farm activities or leases the farm to a person who actively participates in the farm operation.

λ Conforms to generally accepted agricultural practices and complies with appropriate state and federal regulations.

The exception is Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations as defined in Alabama Code 2-6B-6 for feeding, farrowing or finishing swine. To be eligible for ALFFPA protection, these farms must have been in operation before April 12, 2010.

Without Alabama’s right-to-farm law, nuisance lawsuits could snowball, hampering a family’s livelihood and farm’s productivity.


Complying with state and federal regulations is important for receiving ALFFPA protection. It’s critical farmers stay up to date about rules and regulations that impact their operations.

Being involved in organizations like the Federation and other industry groups can help farmers of any size stay on top of these regulations. 

Compiled by Alabama Farmers Federation Agriculture Counsel John Allen Nichols. The material above is for educational purposes only.

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