A bill that would protect North Carolina’s hog farms and agricultural operations from lawsuits over smells and other nuisances won approval in the N.C. Senate Wednesday night.
The bill passed in a 30-19 vote, with four Republicans joining all Senate Democrats in opposition to the bill.
The legislation, House Bill 467, will now go to the House for final approval. The House has already passed a similar bill, which limits the amount of money people can collect in lawsuits against agricultural operations.
Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a farmer who represents Duplin and Wayne counties, introduced the bill to protect hog farmers. The bill would have originally applied to existing lawsuits and would have limited the potential financial payouts from 26 lawsuits pending in federal court against Murphy-Brown, the state’s largest hog producer.
But the version passed out of the House earlier this month and by the Senate on Wednesday applies only to future lawsuits, not cases already in court.
Critics said the bill would disproportionately harm African-Americans who live near large-scale hog operations and are subjected to acrid smells, flies, buzzards and other annoyances.