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Abatement - To stop some action or activity from continuing to occur. For example a county health director may have the power to abate a public health nuisance by stopping citizens from dumping garbage in the front yards of their own residences. See also Injunction.

Act -A law.

Adopted - Passed into law. An ordinance that is adopted becomes law and is enforceable.

Agricultural Operation - A farm.

Agricultural Areas - Areas designated for the purpose of creating and enforcing ordinances or providing exceptions to those ordinances that are specific to agricultural operations contained within those areas.

Agricultural Districts - See Agricultural Areas.

Agricultural Easements - Restrictions or guidelines written into a deed that outline what the property may be used for or how it may be developed. An example of an agricultural easement would be a restriction on building residential housing on a farm, with an exception for a single residence for the purpose of living on the farm.

Agricultural Preservation Areas - The same as agricultural areas, however, ordinances may be adopted for these areas to prevent land used for agricultural purposes from being converted to other uses.

Agricultural Preservation Ordinances - Ordinances regulating land use in agricultural preservation areas.

Agricultural Protection Areas - Similar to agricultural preservation areas but ordinances may also exist in agricultural protection areas that prohibit the adoption of any law or ordinance that would restrict agricultural activity in areas designated as agricultural protection areas. There may also be ordinances in these areas that protect agricultural operations from nuisance suits. See also Right-To-Farm.

Agricultural Protection Ordinances - Ordinances that regulate land use, prohibit the adoption of any law or ordinance that restricts agricultural activity, or protects farms from nuisance suits in agricultural protection areas.

Amendment - A law or a section of a law, which is passed and that repeals or modifies a current law or statute.

Animal Feeding Operation - Any livestock farm where most of the feed is brought to the animals.

Animal Waste Management System - Any system that collects, transports, stores, and/or disposes of solid or liquid animal waste generated from animal feeding operations.

Animal Unit - The term animal unit means a unit of measurement for any animal feeding operation calculated by adding the following numbers: the number of slaughter and feeder cattle multiplied by 1.0, plus the number of mature dairy cattle multiplied by 1.4, plus the number of swine weighing over 25 kilograms (approximately 55 pounds) multiplied by 0.4, plus the number of sheep multiplied by 0.1, plus the number of horses multiplied by 2.0.

Annexation - The process of incorporating an area of land not currently within the jurisdiction of a local government's governing authority for the purpose of including that area within the government's jurisdiction.

Annotated Code - Codified statute with comments.

Article - A section of a state's body of law, its statutes or code that contains chapters, sections, and subsections of that body of law.




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Best Management Practices (BMPs) - Practices that are used for the purpose of controlling air, land, and water pollution and that eliminate or reduce these types of pollution. Examples of BMPs used for animal feeding operations would be covered lagoons for controlling odor or the contour plowing of sprayfields to control nutrient runoff from animal wastes applied to crops.

Bill - A law that has not been passed by both houses of a state legislative body and signed by the governor of the state. A law that has not been ratified.

Bona-Fide Farm - An agricultural operation that by law is considered to be a farm for regulatory purposes. Bona-fide farms may include swine farm operations or greenhouses and nurseries. Many states' laws prohibit local governments from prohibiting the existence or activities of bona-fide farms within their jurisdiction or within designated agricultural areas. See also Right-To-Farm.

Buffers - Designated areas of land around which agricultural activities may be prohibited or subject to restrictions. These areas may also be used as Best Management Practices where they are left vegetated to control soil erosion and nutrient pollution. One example of a buffer is a strip of woodland left uncleared between a field and a stream to prevent soil from the field from washing into the stream.




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"Case law" - Judge-made law based upon decided cases.

"Changed Condition" - Where a farm changes from one type of operation to another. For example a change from growing turkeys to swine would be a changed condition.

Chapter - A section of a state's body of law, its statutes or code, that contains sections, subsections, or smaller subdivision of that body of law.

Charter - A law that incorporates, or officially establishes, a local government such as a county, town, or city and that must be passed by a state's legislative body.

Chartered Counties - Counties established by a charter.

Civil action - An action brought in a civil court of law by a plaintiff against a defendant where the plaintiff usually claims the defendant has injured the plaintiff or the plaintiff's property in some way or the defendant has violated some law, regulation, or ordinance. A lawsuit.

Code - A state's body of law such as a collection of statutes or regulations. Some states may refer to their body of statutes as Code while other states may refer to their body of regulations as Code.

Compliance - To legally abide by all laws, regulations, ordinances enforced by federal, state, and local governments as well as court orders.

Comprehensive Planning - The process of developing a "map" and a "schedule" of how and when an area of a land within a county or a city is to be developed or not developed with regards to the expansion of public utilities, population increases, traffic congestion, undeveloped space, environmental protection, economic development, and other future and current needs and wants of the citizens in the area for which a plan is being developed.

Comprehensive Land Use Plans - Plans that result from Comprehensive Planning.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) - An animal feeding operation that requires a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. See also National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit.

Cost-Share - Refers to a grant or other type of funding whereby funds are provided to help pay the expenses farmers incur from installing best management practices or other practices that are used voluntarily or to come into compliance with laws, regulations, or ordinances.




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Defendant - The party, either a person, company, government or other entity that is being tried in a criminal trial or sued in a civil trial by a plaintiff.

Discharge - The release of any pollutant into surface waters. A pollutant.




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Exemption - An exception to a statute or regulation.




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Feedlots - Areas where animals are contained in animal feeding operations.




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Holding - A judge's decision in a case - the legally operative part of a decision.




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Injunction - An order issued in a court of law that requires a person to do something or not do something.

Integrator - A company with whom a grower of animals contracts to grow and sell those animals. The integrator usually owns the animals and provides the feed, medications, and most of the management of the animals.

Intensive Livestock Operations (ILO) - An animal feeding operation that is defined as intensive if it contains a number of animal units at or over set numbers of animal units established by federal and state laws. For example, if a farm contains 1,000 animal units and the state law that governs that farm defines an ILO as any farm having over 250 animal units than that farm would be an ILO.

Immunity - The condition of being protected by something. For example, a farm may be immune from a nuisance lawsuit if it was present before a housing development was built nearby, the farm is in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and there is a Right to Farm law in the state where the farm is located. See also Right-To-Farm.




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Jurisdiction - The geographical area and subject matter over which a government's authority to govern applies. For example, a farm within the limits of a city is within the jurisdiction of that city government and is subject to its laws and ordinances.




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Lagoon - Structure usually constructed in the ground to contain liquid and solid animal wastes for storage or treatment purposes. Usually have earthen walls or banks surrounding it to prevent spillage of wastes out of the lagoon. May also be lined to prevent seepage of wastes through the bottom and into underlying groundwater and/or may be covered to contain offensive odors, which arise from the wastes contained in them.

Liability - The condition of being held responsible for an action or event that may result in either actual or claimed, injury or damage, to a person, personal property, or an environment. Liability may be civil or criminal.

Localities - Counties and municipalities.

Local Governments - Counties and municipalities.




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Moratorium - A prohibition on a specific action or thing that may last for an undetermined or a set period of time.

Moratoria - The plural form of moratorium meaning several moratoriums.

Municipality - A town or city.




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National Pollution Discharge Pollution System (NPDES) Permit - Permit required by the Clean Water Act for all point sources which discharge to waters of the United States.

Negligence - The act or condition of failing to do something or doing something improperly that may result in injury or damage to a person, personal property, or an environment. Negligence may result in liability.

Nonpoint Source Pollution - Pollution which may come from many different sources or a single source but that cannot be traced back to any specific point of origin, for example a pipe. An example of nonpoint source pollution would be pesticide runoff into creeks and streams; the pesticide may be known to come from agricultural operations but it may not be traced to a specific farm and a specific point of discharge from that farm or any farm.

"Normal Farming Activities" - Activities which are specific to and are understood to be part of agricultural operations. An example of a non-farming activity would be mining of minerals from a field.

Nuisance - An unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of real property.




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Opinion - A judicial decision.

Ordinance - A rule or law created by a county or city government.




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Planning - The act of creating a plan. For example, creating a local land-use plan that determines whether or not specific areas of land within a local government's jurisdiction may be used for growing swine in animal feeding operations. See also Comprehensive Planning.

Permit - A permission issued by federal, state, and local governments that allows an activity or condition to occur; usually with some form or restrictions or guidelines that must be followed for it to be legally valid.

Point Source Pollution - The opposite of non-point source pollution.   Pollution that comes from a single source and that may be traced back to a single source, such as a pipe. One example of point source pollution would be a pipe that discharges wastewater from a house into a creek. A pipe is an example of a point source.

Plaintiff - The party, either a person, business, government or other entity that is bringing a lawsuit against a defendant in a civil trial. The plaintiff in a criminal trial is the state or the federal government.




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Ratified - For a law to be passed by both houses of a state's legislative body, the House and the Senate, signed by the leaders of both houses, and in all states the law must also be signed by the Governor.

Regulation - A requirement or rule passed by an agency or department of federal, state, or local government that is authorized to create and enforce a requirement or rule through an authorizing statute or constitutional authority.

Regulatory Taking - There is no physical taking of the landowner's property. Instead a regulation so burdens the property that its value is lost.

"Right-To-Farm" - A term usually applied to state laws and regulations that prohibit local governments from passing ordinances that prohibit the existence of an agricultural operation, a bona-fide farm, or its activities in an area. Right-To-Farm laws may also protect agricultural operations from nuisance suits (give immunity from nuisance suits) where claims of nuisance arise from neighboring property owners or residents that are, or claim to be, injured by activities of those operations or conditions resulting from those activities.

Riparian Buffers - Buffers of land covered by trees and other vegetation that often exist next to surface waters. These riparian buffers are used to prevent soil from washing into surface waters and to take up fertilizers and pesticides that wash off of fields into surface waters. See also Best Management Practices.

Repeal - The act of making a law or regulation no longer valid and enforceable. This is usually done through passing an amendment or law that repeals a current law or regulation.

Rezoning - The act of changing the zoning designation of property. For example, an area that may be zoned agricultural, that allows farms as the only uses in that area, may be zoned residential and thus allow only residential houses to exist in that area.

Rule - A regulation.

Runoff - Water or other liquids that flow off of land or other surfaces, such as pavement. Runoff may be composed of water and other particulates, substances, and pollutants, carried by the water. This type of runoff is considered to be non-point source pollution. One example of run-off pollution is fertilizers or pesticides carried off of fields by water into streams. Runoff that is collected and discharged through a manmade conveyance may be a point source.




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Session Law - A ratified law that has not yet been codified. A session law has its own designation prior to being codified; for example in North Carolina S.L. 180 is Session Law 180.

Stakeholders - All parties, individuals, governments, businesses, farms, and etc., that may be interested in, are affected by, or are responsible for the creation of laws, regulations and issues of concern to a community. For example, a farmer is a stakeholder in government regulation of odor that arises from his animal feeding operation's swine lagoon as well as the neighbor that lives nearby that may complain about the odor.

Statute - A law.

Statute of Limitations - Law that establishes a predetermined period of time within which a legal action must be taken. For example, a statute of limitations of two months for challenging changes to zoning ordinances requires that a person who wishes to challenge such a change must do so within that two-month time period. Challenges made after two months may not be considered by the county government or a court.

Siting - The act of placing or locating something, such as a swine farm.

Setbacks - Specific distances that a structure or area must be located away, from other defined areas or structures. For example, a setback for swine farms of 1,500 feet away from occupied residences requires that those farms be located no closer than 1,500 feet away from such residences.

Sprayfield - Area of land over which liquid animal wastes may be sprayed for disposal of those wastes. Usually various types of crops are grown on a sprayfield to assist in the uptake of nutrients from the soil.

Steady State Live Weight (SSLW) – The average day to day total live weight of any animal on the farm during their growth cycle.




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Taking - The act by which a governmental unit deprives a landowner of the value of his property either by physically occupying or otherwise. See also Regulatory Taking.

Township - A unit of government into which counties are divided in some states.




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Unannotated Code - Statues without any commentary.




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Watershed - An area of land that contains ground and surface water resources that drains into more concentrated surface waters.




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Zoning - Regulation created and enforced by county and city governments for the purposes of regulating and controlling activities and conditions within those areas. One example of a zoning regulation would be a zoning ordinance that prohibits the building of residential houses within a determined number of feet of any swine farm or swine farm lagoon.

Zoning Adjustment - The act of modifying or changing a zoning regulation to allow or not allow something governed by that regulation.

Zoning Variance - A type of exemption to a zoning regulation that allows one to be legally in compliance with the zoning regulation without complying with specific requirements of that regulation. One example of a zoning variance would be allowing a hog farm to be constructed in an area not zoned for agricultural purposes.






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Last Updated:  08/22/00 13:29