Posted: July 30, 2013
In terms of farm animal confinement laws, Florida is where it all began, when it passed a constitutional amendment in 2002 that prohibited the housing of pregnant sows in gestation crates. Initiative information. And now, Florida is marking up another first, with an appellate court decision affirming a ruling that awarded a producer $505,000 plus interest for improvements to his property that were made useless by the amendment.
In 2010, Basford filed an “inverse condemnation” lawsuit. In the lawsuit, he did not seek compensation for any loss in value of the land itself, but instead for the loss of the improvements he had made (including a “breeding barn, a gestation barn where the gestation crates that were banned by the Amendment were used, a farrowing barn with farrowing crates, two finishing barns, a feed mill and shelter equipped for storing and mixing feed, a lab/office with equipment for artificial insemination, four water wells with pumps to serve the barns and feed mill, clay lagoons for waste disposal, and a metal chute with hydraulic cylinders for lifting pigs into trailers for transport to market”).
Last week, the 1st District Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, upheld Jackson County Circuit Judge John Fishel’s ruling in Basford’s favor. Wednesday’s opinion said Basford’s operation “depended on raising a high volume of pigs for market, and his improvements were designed for that purpose.” Further, the court relied on the trial judge’s acceptance of “Basford’s ‘testimony that his barns could not be used for any purpose other than raising pigs and that the wells and feed mill had no other practical purpose or use. The state offered no evidence below to refute (Basford’s) testimony on alternative uses of the improvements. Nor has it argued on appeal that the improvements had any other purpose’ or that Basford could have converted to another type of pig-raising operation.” Tampa Bay Times
The award of $505,000 plus interest was calculated based on the inability to use the improvements after November 2008, when the 2002 amendment took effect. A spokeswoman for the state attorney said that they are reviewing the ruling. Sun Herald. To read the appellate court opinion, click here.
For questions or for more information on laws affecting farm animal confinement, contact staff attorney Elizabeth Rumley at firstname.lastname@example.org