University of Vermont AAHS

Montana Agricultural Protection Act



76-2-901. Agricultural activities -- legislative finding and purpose

(1) The legislature finds that agricultural lands and the ability and right of farmers and ranchers to produce a safe, abundant, and secure food and fiber supply have been the basis of economic growth and development of all sectors of Montana's economy. In order to sustain Montana's valuable farm economy and land bases associated with it, farmers and ranchers must be encouraged and have the right to stay in farming. (2) It is therefore the intent of the legislature to protect agricultural activities from governmental zoning and nuisance ordinances.

76-2-902. Definitions

As used in this part, the following definitions apply:

(1) "Agricultural activity" means a condition or activity that provides an annual gross income of not less than $1,500 or that occurs on land classified as agricultural or forest land for taxation purposes. The condition or activity must occur in connection with the commercial production of farm products and includes but is not limited to:

(a) produce marketed at roadside stands or farm markets;

(b) noise;

(c) odors;

(d) dust;

(e) fumes;

(f) operation of machinery and irrigation pumps;

(g) movement of water for agricultural activities, including but not limited to use of existing county road ditches, streams, rivers, canals, and drains, and use of water for agricultural activities;

(h) ground and aerial application of seed, fertilizers, conditioners, and plant protection products;

(i) employment and use of labor;

(j) roadway movement of equipment and livestock;

(k) protection from damage from wildlife;

(l) prevention of trespass;

(m) construction and maintenance of buildings, fences, roads, bridges, ponds, drains, waterways, and similar features and maintenance of stream banks and water courses;

(n) conversion from one agricultural activity to another, provided that the conversion does not adversely impact adjacent property owners;

(o) timber harvesting, thinning, and timber regeneration;

(p) burning and stubble and slash disposal; and

(q) plant nursery and commercial greenhouse activities.

(2) "Commercial production of farm products" means the growing, raising, or marketing of plants or animals by the owner, owner's agent, or lessee of land that provides an annual gross income of not less than $1,500 or that occurs on land that is classified as agricultural or forest land for taxation purposes. The term includes but is not limited to:

(a) forages and sod crops;

(b) dairy and dairy products;

(c) poultry and poultry products;

(d) livestock, including breeding, feeding, and grazing of livestock and recreational equine use;

(e) fruits;

(f) vegetables;

(g) flowers;

(h) seeds;

(i) grasses;

(j) trees, including commercial timber;

(k) fresh water fish and fish products;

(l) apiaries;

(m) equine and other similar products; or

(n) any other product that incorporates the use of food, feed, fiber, or fur.


76-2-903. Local ordinances

A city, county, taxing district, or other political subdivision of this state may not adopt an ordinance or resolution that prohibits any existing agricultural activities or forces the termination of any existing agricultural activities outside the boundaries of an incorporated city or town. Zoning and nuisance ordinances may not prohibit agricultural activities that were established outside the corporate limits of a municipality and then incorporated into that municipality by annexation.



27-30-101. Definition of nuisance

(1) Anything which is injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, or which unlawfully obstructs the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of any navigable lake, river, bay, stream, canal, or basin or any public park, square, street, or highway is a nuisance.

(2) Nothing which is done or maintained under the express authority of a statute can be deemed a nuisance.

(3) No agricultural or farming operation, place, establishment, or facility or any of its appurtenances or the operation thereof is or becomes a public or private nuisance because of the normal operation thereof as a result of changed residential or commercial conditions in or around its locality if the agricultural or farming operation, place, establishment, or facility has been in operation longer than the complaining resident has been in possession or commercial establishment has been in operation.


27-30-102. Distinction between public and private nuisances

(1) A public nuisance is one which affects, at the same time, an entire community or neighborhood or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal.

(2) Every nuisance not included in the definition of subsection (1) is private.


27-30-103. Action for nuisance

A nuisance is the subject of an action. Such action may be brought by any person whose property is injuriously affected or whose personal enjoyment is lessened by the nuisance, and by the judgment the nuisance may be enjoined or abated, as well as damages recovered.


27-30-104. Right to recover damages unaffected by abatement

The abatement of a nuisance does not prejudice the right of any person to recover damages for its past existence.


27-30-105. Successive owners liable for nuisance

Every successive owner of property who neglects to abate a continuing nuisance upon or in the use of such property, created by a former owner, is liable therefor in the same manner as the one who first created it. PART 2. PUBLIC NUISANCES


27-30-201. Public nuisance not legalized by time

No lapse of time can legalize a public nuisance amounting to an actual obstruction of public right.


27-30-202. Remedies for public nuisances

(1) The remedies against a public nuisance are:

(a) indictment or information;

(b) a civil action; or

(c) abatement.

(2) The remedy by indictment or information is regulated by Titles 45 and 46.


27-30-203. When private person may maintain action for public nuisance

A private person may maintain an action for a public nuisance if it is specially injurious to himself, but not otherwise.


27-30-204. Abatement of public nuisance by public body or officer or injured party

A public nuisance may be abated by any public body or officer authorized thereto by law. Any person may abate a public nuisance which is specially injurious to him by removing or, if necessary, destroying the thing that constitutes the same without committing a breach of the peace or doing unnecessary injury. PART 3. PRIVATE NUISANCES


27-30-301. Remedies for private nuisances

The remedies against a private nuisance are:

(1) a civil action; or

(2) abatement.


27-30-302. Abatement of private nuisance by injured party

A person injured by a private nuisance may abate it by removing or, if necessary, destroying the thing which constitutes the nuisance without committing a breach of the peace or doing unnecessary injury. Where a private nuisance results from a mere omission of the wrongdoer and cannot be abated without entering upon his land, reasonable notice must be given to him before entering to abate it.

Enacted in 1995 [Title 76] and 1981 [Title27].
Reviewed by AAHS in June 2001.

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