Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Act Now for Environmental Justice: “Farming Operations”

  Use your voice!

Call the Florida Senators below before Monday.

<<alt text: two square graphics, one with burning sugarcane field in the background and text stating action alert, bad bill alert, sb88 farming operations, with sierra club logo, the other graphic states make calls for environmental justice, tell these senators to vote no on sb88, and lists senators’ names and phone numbers, which are also listed below in text>>

What to say when you call:

“Hello!  My name is ______.  I’m calling to ask Senator _____ to vote NO on Senate Bill 88 during the Environment and Natural Resource Committee hearing on Monday.

Everyone deserves an even playing field when it comes to our justice system.  SB 88 would greatly reduce our ability to hold agricultural industry defendants accountable by favoring them above plaintiffs and other businesses.  This bad bill clearly picks winners and losers, and that’s just not fair to Floridians.

Please vote NO on SB 88.  Thank you!”

Call these Florida Senators before Monday:

(it’s okay to leave a voicemail, or to send an email if calling isn’t an option; do not forward this email to senators or representatives, instead, write a new email to them)

Senator Bean - (850) 487-5004 -

(his district includes Nassau and Duval Counties, let him know if you live in the area)

Senator Perry - (850) 487-5008 -

(his district includes central portions of north Florida, let him know if you live in the area)

Senator Ausley - (850) 487-5003 -

(her district covers portions of the Panhandle, let her know if you live in the area)

Senator Stewart - (850) 487-5013 -

(her district covers a portion of Orange County, let her know if you live in the area)

<<alt text:black  graphic with white text states share this action alert on your social media to reach even more people, includes instructions for saving graphics and posting on social media platforms>>

Tips for calling:

  • If you live in the Senator’s district, be sure to let them know.  They always want to hear from constituents.

  • Call anytime.  Voicemails are okay, even if you don’t speak to someone.

  • Be kind and respectful.  Some senators and representatives will already be on our side.  You may also speak with an intern or staff member who’s just doing their job.

  • Practice what you’ll say before dialing so your point comes across clearly and confidently.

  • Be concise.  If you don’t use the suggested scripts, just make sure you say “Vote NO on SB 88” at least twice.



If you want more info, dive in!  Remember, you don’t need to be an expert in order to take action.  Making the phone call is the most important part.


The Problems with SB 88:

  • SB 88 sets up an uneven playing field between potential plaintiffs and farm operation defendants.

  • Floridians deserve the right to seek redress through our justice system without legislation that pre-determines winners and losers.

  • This bill will make it difficult or impossible for residents currently subjected to 8 months of smoke and ash from sugar burning each year to successfully sue for damages.

  • If adopted, this bill may interfere with an ongoing suit.

  • SB 88 unreasonably limits “standing” (the ability to sue).

  • This bill favors farm operations above other everyday Floridians and businesses.

More background information on this issue:

  • Makes plaintiffs risk responsibility for the legal fees of farm operation defendants

    • Everyday Floridians with legitimate complaints are far less likely to seek and receive justice due to the enormous potential liability

    • This is a deliberate tactic to dissuade suits from being filed

  • Stretches the “coming to the nuisance” argument

    • “Right to Farm” laws protect farm operations from suits filed by newcomers who move to a farming area and complain about noise and smells on the grounds that they chose to “come to the nuisance”

    • SB 88 stretches that argument to extend protection to suits having nothing to do with newcomers moving in, such as negligence, personal injury, and defective product liability. No one chooses to “come to negligence.”

  • Creates a much steeper burden of proof for plaintiffs with legitimate injuries

    • Applies only to farm operations

  • Removes plaintiffs’ ability to seek health impact damages in court

    • Limits damage award to no more than the amount of reduction in value of a plaintiff’s property, even if their injury is entirely unrelated to that property

  • Eliminates the court’s ability to factor in the most recent 3 years of damages prior to the initiation of a suit

    • The court may only factor in damages/injuries incurred more than 3 years before the date a suit is initiated, meaning a farm operation defendant’s recent past actions cannot be considered in a punitive damages award 

  • Eliminates the rights of plaintiffs living more than 2,640 feet, ½ mile, from a farm operations defendant to address issues in court

    • Constituents that live 2,640 feet from a potential defendant have their rights removed (that’s the distance from the Capitol complex to Tennessee Street)

    • Water, air, noise, and light pollution can and do occur at much greater distances than ½ miles