Legislation providing new legal protections for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers has been signed into law.

House Bill 1482, by state Rep. Dale DeWitt and state Sen. Ron Justice, would make it illegal to file a "nuisance" lawsuit against any agriculture producer for improving facilities if the farm has been in operation for at least two years.

"This law removes a barrier to economic development in rural Oklahoma and gives our farmers and ranchers a little more peace of mind," said Justice. "We need to encourage farm improvements and modernization, not penalize it."

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Under the bill, if a lawsuit is ruled "frivolous" by the court, the defendant would be allowed to recover all court costs from the litigant.

House Bill 1482 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives 96-4, cleared the Senate 40-2 and was signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry in mid May.