RALEIGH, WAKE COUNTY -

State senators agree that more records should be released when North Carolina farms are investigated for environmental violations, a change from their initial recommendation this week.

Agriculture legislation approved unanimously Thursday by the full Senate makes complaints and investigatory records at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources about alleged violations confidential. But an approved floor amendment says the documents become public records if DENR determines a violation occurred. A court could still order their release without a violation.

The bill also prohibits local governments from regulating fertilizer use or sales. Landscape contractors now would have to be licensed by the state. All-terrain vehicle riders also would now need written consent to drive on private property.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.