Legislators significantly change hog farm liability bill

In this photo taken Nov. 11. 2015, a pig looks out of its pen at Seabord Foods' Ladder Creek hog feeding operation near Tribune, Kan. The operation is the nation's second largest confined hog feeding farm and the company is set to build another site nearby if granted a permit by the state. The company is pumping wells that had been idled for a decade. Environmentalists and some residents fear that instead of preserving the remaining water for residents, the county will be a desert once the hogs and the water are long gone. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Legislation to limit hog farms’ liability in lawsuits over animal waste smells has passed the North Carolina House after a significant change.

The House narrowly voted Monday to add language to specify that the legislation would not apply to pending lawsuits. The chamber then passed the bill, sending it to the state Senate.

The legislation limits penalties that a jury or judge could impose against hog farms or other agricultural operations in lawsuits accusing them of creating a nuisance for neighbors. The farms’ liability would be limited to the lost property value plaintiffs can prove was the result of the nuisance. The liability couldn’t exceed a piece of property’s market value.

Some Democrats and Republicans argued during floor debate that the General Assembly would meddle in existing lawsuits without the amendment added Monday.