Nevada’s Right-to-Farm Summary

Nevada’s right-to-farm law has attracted little controversy or general fanfare in the state. It exists alongside more general nuisance statutes that pertain to property at large, setting it apart nationally. The statutes have remained largely unamended since originally passed in 1985, except to extend protections to shooting ranges. Since Nevada passed its right-to-farm law during 1985, the number of farms has increased by 26 percent, while the number of acres used for farmland has decreased by 31 percent.1 So what does this law do in practice?

Nevada’s RTF Law at a Glance

Nevada’s RTF law protects certain agricultural activities from nuisance suits when they impact neighboring property, for example through activities like noise or pollution. Nevada’s statute protects any agricultural activity conducted on farmland that does not violate a federal, state, or local law.2 Nevada's law requires that protected operations use good agricultural practices, defined as those that do not violate any laws or regulations.

Conditions and Activities

Nevada’s statute protects agricultural operations if the area around a facility changes after it begins operating.3 Agricultural activities on farmland are protected when they are established before surrounding nonagricultural activities. Nevada’s statute does not protect any activity that has a substantial adverse effect on public health or safety. Further, the activities cannot be injurious to health or offensive to the senses. The state law utilizes some unique language, protecting the “free use of property” from interference with the personal or comfortable enjoyment “of life.”4 The overall ambiguity of Nevada’s statute likely means agriculture operations cannot claim the same broad protections afforded in other states, although the full implications of the law have yet to play out in court.

Local Governance

Nevada’s RTF law does not impact local government’s authority. In other state statutes, counties are provided the authority to regulate nuisances without the RTF law or other laws exempting agricultural land, as many other states do. For example, one county fined a swine operation for odor and then worked with it to create a plan to reduce the odor.5

Attorney Fees

In a recent nuisance case filed against a large-scale corporate dairy operation, the court considered whether to award attorney fees and costs to the6 The Smith Valley Dairy argued that since the plaintiffs did not receive a preliminary or permanent injunction, damages, or any other relief requested in their complaint, the dairy was the prevailing party for the purposes of recovering litigation costs. However, the dairy had also made counterclaims against the plaintiffs in the litigation proceedings for abuse of process and civil conspiracy—contending that the plaintiffs conspired together to file a malicious nuisance claim. The court rejected these claims. It was therefore held that since the jury did not award either party a monetary judgment, there was no prevailing party entitled to cost recovery. Notably, the residents who sued the dairy had to defend themselves from paying attorney costs and fees.

  • 1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA Quick Stats Tool: June 1985 Survey, Nevada, distributed by National Agricultural Statistics Service, accessed October 7, 2020,; “2021 State Agriculture Overview: Nevada,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, accessed October 21, 2022,
  • 2. Nev. Stat. § 40.140(2) (2021).
  • 3. Nev. Stat. § 40.140(2) (2021).
  • 4. Nev. Stat. § 40.140 (2021).
  • 5. J. V. Casey, “Pact Resolves Odor Issues for Pig Farm, County,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 13, 2003.
  • 6. McLeod v. Smith Valley Dairy, Corp., No. 79010-COA, 2020 WL 4236879 (Nev. App. July 23, 2020). See also Nev. Stat. § 18.020 (2021) (discussing attorney fees and cost awards).