Right To Farm Law Defines Suitable Area For Livestock - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Right To Farm Law Defines Suitable Area For Livestock

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Michigan's Right to Farm Law currently protects farmers’ rights to own and operate their farms. The law leaves it up to local governments to decide whether farms can be recognized or not and who can call it a “farm.”

This has sparked some heated debate.

A meeting was held Monday that decided landowners must conform to requirements set by their community.

Whether you have a single hen or a thousand you could be considered a farm. Michigan's right to farm law protects your right to own those hens, somewhat.

“Today the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and rural development is deliberating the site selection of generally accepted agricultural practices,” said Jennifer Holton, Director of Communications, Michigan Department of Agriculture.

This means the commission is deciding whether the state or your local authorities should have control over which farms are allowed to exist.

Local authorities say the decision should be handled at a hyper-local level because it allows, “people who do not want to live near a pig or a chicken the opportunity to pick an area in a township where that would not be allowed by the zoning ordinance,” said Mickey Martin, Williams Twp. Supervisor.

But small farm owners stand on the other side of the issue.

The Right to Farm law is currently creating a lot of confusion. Randy Zeilinger is a suburban farmer who has issues with local ordinances. “My community says you're not a farm, you can’t have any farm products, you can’t have any farm animals. That's considered livestock, it's just not permitted,” said Zellinger, Garden City, Michigan.

Although Zeilinger was approved and recognized by the state and all of its laws his local ordinance prevents him from operating his farm. The commission heard testimonials Monday from people like Zeilinger to consider leaving the decision ultimately to the state.

Updates (5:52 p.m.) On Monday the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve the 2014 Site Selection Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices (GAAMPs). There was also an addition, Category 4, which deals with site selection.

According to a press release by the Michigan Department of Agriculture, “A community that doesn’t allow agriculture as a use by right can allow animal agriculture as a special or permitted use. In those situations, it’s incumbent on the landowner to conform to the requirements set by the community.”

Category 4 defines site selection locations as those with more than 13 homes within 1/8 of a mile of the site or any home within 250 feet of the proposed facility.

Residential sites where zoning doesn’t allow agriculture fall into Category 4, and are not considered an area acceptable as a livestock facility.

By Sharon Yoo, 6 News Intern
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