Hog bill clears final hurdle

After nearly a decade of trying, Alfa finally may have its “Family Farm Preservation Act” passed.

Last week, the House passed the measure 98-1, but not before a little fireworks. Rep. Patricia Todd sought an amendment to the bill – which would give farms protections from nuisance lawsuits – to remove all hog farms from nuisance lawsuit protection. The amendment was tabled before she cast the loan vote against the bill.

The final bill isn’t without changes from the original draft that circulated the Statehouse early last decade. The version of the bill that goes to Governor Riley for signature exempts expanding or new hog operations. It also removes a “loser pays” provision. It does however limit the ability of local governments to define what a nuisance from a farm operation is. And it never defines what a “family farm” is.

While Conservation Alabama and our partners, the Sierra Club and the Sand Mountain Concerned Citizens, would rather this bill not be enacted, we’re pleased with the results of nearly 10 years of fighting Alfa, one of the strongest lobbies in Montgomery. Neither side gets exactly what they wanted in the legislation, but that is the nature of the legislative process: compromise.

The $1 billion for roads bill was scheduled for a public hearing in the House Government Appropriations Committee this week. It’s yet to be seen if this controversial piece of legislation will survive House review and possible amendments before the rapidly approaching end of the session.

Additionally, Governor Bob Riley has yet to make appointments to the seven-member Environmental Management Commission, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s governing board. The position of ecologist/biologist has been vacant since October, and the positions of engineer and physician expire September 30. These appointments can be made at any time, but they require Senate confirmation.

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