State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, wants prospective Wyoming land buyers to be aware of the harsh realities of living near agricultural land, such as realizing how immodest farm animals can be in procreating.
Bouchaed said farmers who own land encroached on by residential developments have resorted to posting signs warning their new neighbors what kind of inconveniences they can expect.
He mentioned one sign put up by a British farmer in 2018 that reads: “NOTICE: This property is a farm. Farms have animals! Animals make: Funny sounds, smell bad and have sex outdoors. Unless you can tolerate the above, DON’T BUY A PROPERTY NEXT TO A FARM.”
Bouchard shared the sign with the Senate on Thursday, eliciting a brief chuckle from the second-term senator as he read it.
Although Bouchard said the sign is obviously lighthearted, “it gets to the heart of what’s going on here.”
Not Just A Joke
He made the reference while speaking in favor of his “Right To Farm-Real Estate Disclosures” bill, which would require any property sold in Wyoming within 1 mile of farm and ranch operations to include a disclosure to prospective buyers.
Bouchard’s most recently revised disclosure in Senate File 134 would warn prospective buyers that the property may be subject to inconveniences or discomforts resulting from agricultural operations.
Buyers would be informed that “noise, odors, flies, fumes, dust, machinery operation of any kind … including aircraft, the presence of animal waste and the application of chemical soil amendments, herbicides and pesticides” may occur within their vicinity 24 hours a day, the legislation says.
It also points out that how offended or bothers someone may be living in close proximity to agriculture operations can be subject to “individual sensitivities” and urges people to consider those before singing on the dotted line.
The disclosure also warns buyers that they may be barred from seeking legal remedies against farm and ranch operations conducted in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards outline in the Wyoming Right to Farm and Ranch Act.
Basically, it says people can’t expect to move next to a farm, become bothered because it operates as a farm, then sue the farm because of it.
Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, took issue with the last part of the disclosure, seeing it as possibly providing legal advice.
“It tells the purchaser that farm and ranch operations are under state law in Wyoming,” she said.
An amendment brought by Sen. Stacy Jones, R-Rock Springs, a Realtor, with help from the Wyoming Realtors Association, softens this warning.
Jones’ disclosure alerts buyers that neighboring farmland “may interfere with perceived quiet enjoyment of your property.”
Nethercott and Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, also supported the amendment.
“It gets to what the intent of the bill is, which is to disclose while making sure that we’re hamstringing people who are working in this industry and profession,” Steinmetz said.
Bouchard said “perceived” is too weak of a word to use in the disclaimer, mentioning how many farms run tractors and other equipment 24 hours a day for certain parts of the year.
“This isn’t about the buyer, this about the farm or ranch owner who has to get a lawyer and defend themselves against someone who had the wrong perceptions of what they’re buying,” he said.
The amendment passed on a close 17-14 vote.
Passes Second Reading
“This is sugarcoated of what’s really going on,” said Bouchard, also a licensed Realtor, said of the amendment.
“This is the Senate,” he said. “I don’t think we should play the games that we see down the hallway (in the House) with worrying about what a lobby group says on certain issues like this.”
Bouchard said there are other states that offer multiple disclosures to real estate buyers.
“Honestly, if you have a pig farm and you’re a Realtor, you better know that wind pattern, you better know what’s going on because if you sell that to somebody and you don’t put it on that disclosure, you just go with this basic disclosure that’s warm and fuzzy,” Bouchard said. “There could be a fight that happens, and you could be in the middle of a lawsuit.”
SB 134 passed on a second reading in the Senate on Thursday. It will need one more reading and passage before arriving in the House.
Bouchard said he purposely held the bill back Friday and will be drafting a new amendment for it.