Current Legislation

Wash. Rev. Code §§ 7.48.300 to 7.48.320

Current Legislation effective June 10, 2010

 

7.48.300. Agricultural activities and forest practices–Legislative finding and purpose
The legislature finds that agricultural activities conducted on farmland and forest practices in urbanizing areas are often subjected to nuisance lawsuits, and that such suits encourage and even force the premature removal of the lands from agricultural uses and timber production. It is therefore the purpose of RCW 7.48.300 through 7.48.310 and 7.48.905 to provide that agricultural activities conducted on farmland and forest practices be protected from nuisance lawsuits.

 

7.48.305. Agricultural activities and forest practices–Presumed reasonable and not a nuisance–Exception–Damages Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, agricultural activities conducted on farmland and forest practices, if consistent with good agricultural and forest practices and established prior to surrounding nonagricultural and nonforestry activities, are presumed to be reasonable and shall not be found to constitute a nuisance unless the activity or practice has a substantial adverse effect on public health and safety. If those agricultural activities and forest practices are undertaken in conformity with all applicable laws and rules, they are presumed to be good agricultural and forest practices not adversely affecting the public health and safety for purposes of this section and RCW 7.48.300. An agricultural activity that is in conformity with such laws and rules shall not be restricted as to the hours of the day or day or days of the week during which it may be conducted. Nothing in this section shall affect or impair any right to sue for damages.

 

7.48.310. Agricultural activities and forest practices–Definitions As used in RCW 7.48.305:
(1) “Agricultural activity” means a condition or activity which occurs on a farm in connection with the commercial production of farm products and includes, but is not limited to, marketed produce at roadside stands or farm markets; noise; odors; dust; fumes; operation of machinery and irrigation pumps; movement, including, but not limited to, use of current county road ditches, streams, rivers, canals, and drains, and use of water for agricultural activities; ground and aerial application of seed, fertilizers, conditioners, and plant protection products; keeping of bees for production of agricultural or apicultural products; employment and use of labor; roadway movement of equipment and livestock; protection from damage by wildlife; prevention of trespass; construction and maintenance of buildings, fences, roads, bridges, ponds, drains, waterways, and similar features and maintenance of stream banks and watercourses; and conversion from one agricultural activity to another, including a change in the type of plant-related farm product being produced. The term includes use of new practices and equipment consistent with technological development within the agricultural industry.

(2) “Farm” means the land, buildings, freshwater ponds, freshwater culturing and growing facilities, and machinery used in the commercial production of farm products.

(3) “Farmland” means land or freshwater ponds devoted primarily to the production, for commercial purposes, of livestock, freshwater aquacultural, or other farm products.(

(4) “Farm product” means those plants and animals useful to humans and includes, but is not limited to, forages and sod crops, dairy and dairy products, poultry and poultry products, livestock, including breeding, grazing, and recreational equine use, fruits, vegetables, flowers, seeds, grasses, trees, freshwater fish and fish products, apiaries and apiary products, equine and other similar products, or any other product which incorporates the use of food, feed, fiber, or fur.

(5) “Forest practice” means “forest practice” as defined in RCW 76.09.020.

 

7.48.315. Agricultural activities and forest practices–Recovering lawsuit costs—Farmers
(1) A farmer who prevails in any action, claim, or counterclaim alleging that agricultural activity on a farm constitutes a nuisance may recover the full costs and expenses determined by a court to have been reasonably incurred by the farmer as a result of the action, claim, or counterclaim.

(2) A farmer who prevails in any action, claim, or counterclaim

(a) based on an allegation that agricultural activity on a farm is in violation of specified laws, rules, or ordinances,

(b) where such activity is not found to be in violation of the specified laws, rules, or ordinances, and

(c) actual damages are realized by the farm as a result of the action, claim, or counterclaim, may recover the full costs and expenses determined by a court to have been reasonably incurred by the farmer as a result of the action, claim, or counterclaim.

(3) The costs and expenses that may be recovered according to subsection (1) or (2) of this section include actual damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. For the purposes of this subsection, “actual damages” include lost revenue and the replacement value of crops or livestock damaged or unable to be harvested or sold as a result of the action, claim, or counterclaim.

(4) In addition to any sums recovered according to subsection (1) or (2) of this section, a farmer may recover exemplary damages if a court finds that the action, claim, or counterclaim was initiated maliciously and without probable cause.

(5) A farmer may not recover the costs and expenses authorized in this section from a state or local agency that investigates or pursues an enforcement action pursuant to an allegation as specified in subsection (2) of this section.

 

7.48.320. Agricultural activities and forest practices–Recovering costs to investigate complaints–State and local agencies A state or local agency required to investigate a complaint alleging agricultural activity on a farm is in violation of specified laws, rules, or ordinances and where such activity is not found to be in violation of such specified laws, rules, or ordinances may recover its full investigative costs and expenses if a court determines that the complaint was initiated maliciously and without probable cause