State Compilations - National Agricultural Law Center

State Law Clearinghouse

State laws, even when the overall issue is the same, vary widely from one state to the next. At the National Agricultural Law Center, one ongoing project is the compilation of all state statutes that exist in specific topics of agricultural law. These compilations range from animal cruelty statutes to laws affecting the recreational use of land to statutory provisions targeted at agritourism operations and provide a brief snapshot of the wide variety of laws enacted across the nation. At the same time, it allows a researcher to obtain targeted, state-specific information on the issue by providing a complete statutory text along with the date of possible expiration. While the individual topics and accompanying maps are located in relevant reading rooms and on the publication page, this page is a clearinghouse for all of the statutes that have been compiled to date.

All fifty states have enacted statutory liens on agricultural products, equipment and production inputs. States enact agricultural liens because some areas of the industry conduct business in a way that creates a risk of nonpayment. Thus, these liens ensure certain providers of agricultural goods, services, labor, and land are repaid debts owed to them. This compilations is an aid to research on statutory agricultural liens.

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous are vital to agricultural crop production in the United States but have also detrimentally impacted water quality. However, while the Clean Water Act gives the federal government a role in directing solutions for point source effects on water in the U.S., the states maintain primary legal authority over nonpoint sources of nutrient pollution such as farmland and runoff from farmland.  This chart categorizes state legal approaches into three broad categories based on the nature of the particular activity the law or regulation affects: nutrient management planning, certification of nutrient applicators, and nutrient application restrictions.

Over half of the states in the United States have enacted statutes that address agritourism. These statutes vary from liability protections for agritourism operators to tax credits to zoning requirements. This compilation provides the statutory text of each of the states’ agritourism statutes.

All fifty states have enacted statutes and administrative code provisions that create an alternative to traditional litigation. While many states have adopted some version of the Uniform Arbitration Act, the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act, or the Uniform Mediation Act, there are also many laws and regulations that create or mandate various forms of dispute resolution unique or particular to the specific state in which it was enacted. Because of the wide variation of dispute resolution laws and regulations this database has been compiled to give the user as many of the ADR provisions that concern agriculture as possible

Each state in the United States has enacted statutes to punish individuals who engage in cruelty to animals. While there are many similar characteristics, the actual codified provisions vary drastically from state to state. This compilation provides the statutory text of each state’s animal cruelty statutes.

The ability to quickly trace sick and exposed animals is important to stop disease spread and minimize losses throughout the supply chain. On the federal level, animal disease traceability is primarily focused on animals moving interstate.  However, some states have passed laws governing animals within their borders.  This compilation provides the statutory text of each state’s laws regarding animal identification programs.

Each state in the United States has enacted statutes regarding laws relative to the role of agriculture in the nation’s energy equation. These statutes vary from tax incentives for biofuel production, the labeling of biofuels for resale, and even the very definition of a biofuel. This compilation of state statutory citations, intended for historical research, primarily focuses on biofuels laws in effect from January 1, 1970 through December 31, 2013.

Individual farmers often have difficulty controlling the prices they receive for their agricultural products or the prices they pay to produce them. Agricultural cooperatives are used to help farmers maintain economic market power by combining the resources of a group of agricultural producers. In addition to marketing agriculture products, cooperatives can also provide loans to farmers, bargain on behalf of their members, and provide transportation services.  This compilation covers some of the basic laws for forming an agricultural cooperative in every state.

Nearly every state in the United States has enacted laws that allow entrepreneurs to produce certain food products in the home or “cottage” with little or no regulatory oversight.  These state “cottage food” laws aim to recognize that foods such as baked goods, jams, dry mixes, and candies are not potentially hazardous and pose a low risk of food contamination.  Despite the common goal of easing food safety requirements for those who produce nonpotentially hazardous foods, there is much variation in the approaches taken by the states.  This compilation presents the statutes and regulations for each state that has a cottage food or home-based food production law.

This is a compilation of legal guides for producers that wish to engage in the direct marketing of their agricultural products. The guides cover federal requirements as well, being tailored directly to states that are part of the MarketMaker® project. The guides address topics such as liability, business organizations, taxation, and legal issues surrounding the production and sale of specific agricultural products that are important in the state. These materials were compiled in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and with support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), environmental justice is defined as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income regarding the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” States have responded the growing environmental justice movement in different ways. Some states have passed laws restricting how many landfills can be built in different areas, in response to environmental justice actions of the 1960s. More recently, other states have passed laws explicitly requiring their state agencies to address environmental justice concerns when carrying out certain actions or responsibilities. This compilation categorizes these state laws.

The vast majority of the states in the United States have enacted statutes that limit liability for some form of “equine activity.” From rodeo to trail rides to pony rides, activities involving equines are a popular event.  An equine activity statute is a law designed to limit liability for injuries and deaths connected with horse-related activities. The main component of these statutes is that an equine sponsor or professional is a limitation on liability for injuries resulting from an “inherent risk of equine activities.”  This compilation provides the statutory text of each of the states’ equine activity statute.

Whether through typical legislative channels or as a result of a ballot initiative, several states have enacted laws that are concerned with farm animal confinement. While the majority of these laws require that farm animals be given a certain amount of space, others reserve the right to make those rules either to the state legislature or to a board put into place to address those issues. As a result of the wide variety of statutes, the statutory language contained in each differs greatly. This compilation provides the statutory text of each state’s laws.

All 50 states have enacted statutes that address issues of livestock running at large and the fences that may or may not be required to keep them confined. These “fence law” statutes can vary widely from state to state. While many states require owners of livestock to secure the livestock on property that they own or lease; some still follow the “open range” doctrine.  This compilation provides the statutory text of each state’s fence and livestock running at large statutes.

An important factor in the sale of grain is quality. Grain is routinely sampled and inspected, often several times before reaching its end use, on a wide array of criteria depending on the type and use of the grain. States vary in the standards that they choose to use or not use. Some states do not have regulations governing grain sampling and inspection while other states have created their own regulatory approach to grain inspection. Further, some states have chosen to adopt the federal approach. Through the United States Grain Standards Act, the federal government created a set of standards used for import and export of grain. Some states have adopted these standards and have been delegated inspection authority by the Federal Grain Inspection Service.

For people or companies interested in opening a meat slaughter and processing facility, there can be requirements ranging from health and sanitation to waste disposal to specific facility or building requirements.  The purpose of this resource is provide contact information to offices both with the United States Department of Agriculture, specifically the Food Safety and Inspection Service (“USDA-FSIS”) and with appropriate state authorities on a state-by-state basis.  Additionally, it provides the relevant statutes in those states that have a state meat inspection program in place.

The Clean Water Act (“CWA”) is recognized as the primary federal law regulating water pollution in the United States. The purpose of the CWA is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of the waters protected under the Act. To achieve this goal, the CWA requires that anyone who discharges a pollutant into a protected waterbody must have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit.  Although NPDES permits are part of the federal CWA, states are largely responsible for issuing NPDES permits.  This chart outlines which components of the NPDES program that each state has been authorized to carry out, the agency responsible for administering the NPDES program in each state, and the laws supporting each state’s NPDES authority.

Farmers and ranchers are familiar with noxious weeds—those invasive weeds that pose threats to the environment, people, and animals.  Nearly all states in the U.S. have enacted laws that list prohibited noxious weeds and assign responsibility for eradicating prohibited noxious weeds in certain circumstances.   These laws attempt to reduce the potential of noxious weed invasions to neighboring lands.  This compilation presents the statutes for each state that has a noxious weed law.

Foreign ownership of U.S. land, specifically private agricultural lands, is an issue that traces to the origins of the United States. State laws vary widely and without a generalized or uniform approach. The following compilation includes state statutory prohibitions on foreign ownership of agricultural land, foreign ownership of other real property, reporting requirements, and corporate farming restrictions.

Real estate can be owned jointly by more than a single person at a time. Tenants in common, as this arrangement is typically called, have access to use all of the property regardless of their fractional interest. When tenants in common cannot agree, or if one or more tenants wish to withdraw from the ownership arrangement, then courts may need to separate the interests through a partition action.  Partition laws across the country vary between two primary legal operations.  This table outlines the general category each state falls into, the relevant statutory sections, and a brief description of the state’s process.

All 50 states in the United States have enacted statutes that confer some degree of liability protection to landowners who allow the general public to enter upon or make use of their land for recreational purposes. Commonly referred to as “recreational use statutes,” these laws promote the public policy of encouraging landowners to open their lands so the public may access a wider range of recreational activities. This compilation provides the statutory text of each state’s recreational use statute.

When a elevator or grain dealer fails to fulfill its obligations, grain producers may be left without payment for large sums of already-delivered products.  Recognizing this, some states have passed laws imposing additional requirements on these businesses.  These range from no regulation at all to those including licensing, bonding, statutory liens, and civil and criminal sanctions. These charts- one for laws relevant to grain dealers and one for laws relevant to grain warehouses- outline state requirements and consequences.

All fifty states have enacted right-to-farm laws that seek to protect qualifying farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits filed by individuals who move into a rural area where normal farming operations exist, and who later use nuisance actions to attempt to stop those ongoing operations. While the overall statutory schemes might be similar, each state has noticeably different content in the specific details of the laws. This compilation provides the statutory text of each state’s laws.

Property taxes are a fact of life for virtually all landowners in the United States, including farmers and ranchers.  However, all states have laws that tax agricultural land differently than other lands to lower the amount of property taxes farmers and ranchers pay.  Generally, differential tax assessment discounts the value of the land to reflect its use for agricultural purposes rather than for residential, commercial, or industrial development.  But no two state laws are exactly alike in the specifics of what land qualifies for the assessment, how to calculate the agricultural value of land, and penalties for removing land from agricultural use.  This compilation presents each state’s provisions for differential tax assessment of agricultural land.

As technology in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles has evolved the agricultural industry has benefited from the usage of the new technology.  Along with potential benefits, the new technology also introduced new concerns surrounding issues such as privacy.  The proliferation of UAV technology has led states to pass a series of laws dealing with concerns such as privacy, usage by law enforcement, training, and other topics.  This compilation is an attempt to provide potential UAV operators, policy makers and educators with a means to rapidly research each state’s UAV laws.