KLA members review legislative bills
More than 90 Kansas Livestock Association members met in late February for the association's annual legislative meeting and reviewed over 40 bills. Members voted to support a bill (SB 191) that would repeal the state's corporate farm restrictions and oppose legislation (HB 2365) that prohibits voluntary perpetual conservation easements in Kansas. SB 191 would authorize any agricultural company to conduct business, own land and establish agricultural operations in Kansas. Current law limits agricultural activity to family farm corporations, authorized farm corporations, limited liability agricultural companies and other specifically defined business entities. HB 2365 would limit voluntary conservation easements to 50 years of duration and make Kansas landowners ineligible to participate in Natural Resources Conservation Service easement programs and federal income and estate tax incentives.
Below is a status report on other bills impacting the livestock industry.
--Limiting nuisance lawsuits: KLA staff presented testimony in support of two bills that strengthen the current Kansas right-to-farm laws.
SB 168 and HB 2292 would limit damages in nuisance cases by defining when a nuisance cannot be abated and offers protection for future owners of an existing agricultural operation.
--State restraint of trade legislation: A recent Kansas Supreme Court case overturned a longstanding interpretation of Kansas antitrust law and puts participants in marketing arrangements and contracts at an increased risk of litigation. KLA and other business groups will testify in support of SB 124, which includes a list of factors a court must consider when determining if an agreement is reasonable. In addition, SB 124 would exempt the livestock industry from state antitrust laws because it's governed by the Packers and Stockyards Act. KLA testified in support of several House bills that would repeal the state antitrust law or modify the law similarly to SB 124.
--Black-footed ferrets: The Senate passed a KLA-supported resolution that requests the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refrain from further releases of federally endangered black-footed ferrets in Kansas. The resolution, SR 1711, also opposes a recently proposed safe harbor agreement and encourages USFWS to use a formal rule-making process to adequately protect private landowners in areas where black-footed ferrets may occur.
--Endangered species law reform: A KLA-supported bill that would make changes to the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act is scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. HB 2362 would limit state regulation of habitat to only critical habitat and require the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to reexamine the current state list of threatened and endangered species. The bill also would require the state to examine the prevalence of a species across the U.S., not just in Kansas, when deciding to list it as threatened or endangered.
--Confined livestock permits: The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passed HB 2207 last week, which is a KLA-supported bill that would change the time when separation distance is determined for expansion or construction of a confined feeding facility. The bill would determine separation distances from the date the facility is registered with KDHE, rather than the date a completed water pollution control permit is submitted.