On April 9th, Arizona Governor Doug Ducy signed SB 1448 into law, awarding industrial agriculture the ability to pollute while simultaneously tying the hands of neighboring residents or local governing authorities from doing anything about it.
The bill, which is believed to have originated out of state and mirrors many of the bills being pushed by the pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council, was adapted to limit nuisance lawsuits against large-scale agricultural operations. It specifically targeted a lawsuit against Hickman’s Egg Ranch in the towns of Tonopah and Arlington, Arizona being brought by the citizens who live there.
In 2014, Hickman’s Egg Ranch moved into the tranquil town of Tonopah, a community that serves as a gateway to the Kona Wildlife Refuge and is known for its hot springs, which have historically been revered by the Hohokam, Patayan, and Yavapai people.
When Hickman’s Egg Ranch located in Tonopah, it brought stench, flies, and traffic. Businesses shuttered and the lives of the residents that remained have changed forever. Many people report not being able to go outside, health impacts, and a loss of quality of life. To seek some relief, residents took their concerns to the courts, filing a nuisance lawsuit against the company.
With the passage of SB 1448, it now seems that the corporate agribusiness has the ability to continue to run roughshod over local residents because their ability to access the courts is increasingly limited. Local governments in Arizona now also have their hands tied from being able to protect their residents from polluting agriculture operations.
These types of bills are popping up all across the country under the guise of Right to Farm laws. While the title of these bills often sound good, don’t be fooled — they are eroding our democratic institutions and allowing corporations to mine rural communities of wealth and resources.
(Featured Image Photo Credit: Right to Harm)