Michigan’s Right to Farm Act (RTFA), passed in 1981, is one of the strongest farm protection acts in the country. Under Michigan’s RTFA, local and county level farming ordinances are superseded; the law as it stands today protects the rights of Michigan residents to farm as long as they follow generally accepted agricultural and management practices (GAAMPs). However, today, the right to farm in Michigan stands on the edge of a knife as the Michigan Agriculture Commission is proposing changes. “The proposed change allows for local governments to decide what’s acceptable within their own communities and set conditions for that use,” said Jennifer Holton, Director of Communications for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development according to Mlive.
While it is not desirable for an urban farmer on an 1/8 of an acre city lot to raise 500 chickens on his or her property, the proposed changes to the Michigan RTFA open the door to obtrusive local ordinances that could remove essential farm protections for Michigan residents. The original purpose of Michigan’s Right to Farm Act was to protect residents’ rights to farm, no matter where in our great state they reside. The proposed changes recommended by the Michigan Agriculture Commission would remove this protection and allow county and municipal governments to restrict what they consider to be within a resident’s right to farm.
In the past, the Michigan RTFA has offered extraordinary protection to urban and suburban farmers across our state. Rather than turning this power over to the limitless discretionary power of county and municipal government, which may or may not recognize and honor Michigan residents’ right to farm, policy makers in Lansing need to stand up and defend the Right to Farm Act and stop bureaucratic agencies from changing the law away from its original intent. Contact your State Senator and Representative today and tell them to uphold Michigan’s Right to Farm.