University of Vermont AAHS

Vermont Agricultural Protection Act

TITLE TWELVE. Court Procedure
CHAPTER 195. Nuisance Suits Against Agricultural Activities


5751 Legislative findings and purpose

The legislature finds that agricultural production is a major contributor to the state's economy; agricultural lands constitute unique and irreplaceable resources of statewide importance; that the continuation of agricultural activities preserves the landscape and environmental resources of the state, contributes to the increase of tourism, and furthers the economic self- sufficiency of the people of the state; and that the encouragement, development, improvement, and preservation of agriculture will result in a general benefit to the health and welfare of the people of the state. The legislature further finds that agricultural activities conducted on farmland in urbanizing areas are potentially subject to lawsuits based on the theory of nuisance, and that these suits encourage and even force the premature removal of the lands from agricultural use. It is the purpose of this act to protect reasonable agricultural activities conducted on farmland from nuisance lawsuits.


5752 Definitions

(a) "Agricultural activity" includes, but is not limited to, the growing, raising and production of horticultural and silvicultural crops, grapes, berries, trees, fruit, poultry, livestock, grain, hay, and dairy products.

(b) "Farmland" means land devoted primarily to commercial agricultural activities.


5753 Agricultural activities; protection from nuisance lawsuits

(a) Agricultural activities conducted on farmland, if consistent with good agricultural practices and established prior to surrounding non-agricultural activities, shall be entitled to a rebuttable presumption that the activity does not constitute a nuisance. If an agricultural activity is conducted in conformity with federal, state, and local laws and regulations, it is presumed to be good agricultural practice not adversely affecting the public health and safety. The presumption may be rebutted by a showing that the activity has a substantial adverse effect on the public health and safety.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of state or local boards of health to abate nuisances affecting the public health, as provided in 18 V.S.A. chapter 11.


Enacted in 1981.
Reviewed by AAHS in June 2001.

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