Michigan’s ‘Right to Farm Act’ Prempts Local Ordinances

Bill Schuette’s recent opinion asserting that the state’s Right to Farm Act preempts local government ordinances

On behalf of its more than 42,000 farm family members, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) applauds Attorney General (AG) Bill Schuette’s recent opinion asserting that the state’s Right to Farm Act preempts local government ordinances attempting to restrict farming activities.
As the largest state farm organization, MFB has been concerned with the alarming trend of local governments approving unnecessary and illegal ordinances regulating farming activities. Members and staff of the organization have being working to defend the integrity of the Right to Farm Act, including recent challenges in Leroy Township and Fenton Township.

“Agriculture is Michigan’s second-largest industry, but it will always be Michigan’s first and oldest industry,” Schuette said. “Farming the land is part and parcel of what makes Michigan great. Whether it is raising livestock or growing commercial crops, Michigan is America’s agricultural powerhouse.”

“This common sense opinion recognizes that the state’s Right to Farm Act preempts local ordinances from restricting the practice of farming. The law recognizes what we already know – farming is good for Michigan,” he said.

Requested by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, the opinion concludes:

“It is my opinion, therefore, that unless otherwise approved under sections 4(7), 4(6) of the Right to Farm Act preempts provisions in ordinances adopted by local units of government that regulate farming activities when the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed generally accepted agricultural and management practices that address those farming activities.”

The opinion upholds Right to Farm Act’s intent to prevent farms from being found a nuisance if the farm is in conformance with the state’s Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices.

It also affirms that the law nullifies locally-made regulations that extend or revise the law’s provisions or GAAMPs, which outline specific farming practices under the umbrellas of: care of farm animals, site selection, nutrient utilization, manure management, irrigation and water use, pesticide utilization and pest control, cranberry production, and farm markets.

“Attorney General Schuette’s opinion validates that the recent trend of local governments approving—or trying to approve — ordinances that regulate farming activities are unnecessary and illegal,” said MFB President Carl Bednarski. “As farmers, our goal is to provide safe, abundant, affordable food for consumers. The Right to Farm Act ensures we’re able to do that.”

Read more about Michigan Farm Bureau, the state’s largest agricultural organization and its member-developed, grass-roots policy on the Right to Farm Act at www.michfb.com.

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