Michigan residents lose ‘right to farm’ in backyards, smaller properties

Backyard chickens (Source: MLive.com)
Backyard chickens (Source: MLive.com)
Backyard chickens (Source: MLive.com)

MICHIGAN — Property rights took a hit this week when the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to to take away protections for backyard farmers statewide — which will result in many small farms being shut down.

Backyard and urban farms were previously protected by Michigan’s Right to Farm Act.  The Act stated that local ordinances could not trump the state’s Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices (GAAMP).  After the rule change, however, these protections no longer apply to many homeowners who keep small numbers of livestock.

Lands that are located within 1/8 mile proximity to 13 neighboring homes, or that are 250-feet away from just one neighboring home, will no longer receive protection of the Right to Farm Act.  The regulatory mess is going to shut down many small farms completely, and leave many others with large sections of property that is prohibited for farm use.

“They don’t want us little guys feeding ourselves. They want us to go all to the big farms. They want to do away with small farms and I believe that is what’s motivating it.”

Backyard farmers who raise their own chickens, goats, pigs, and honey may have to give up their operations and go back to shopping for mass produced meats at the supermarket.

One small farmer, Michelle Regalado Deatrick, told MLive that half of her 80-acre farm may be zoned out of use, as it falls into “Category 3,” which is described as “generally not suitable for livestock production facilities.”

Kim White, who raises chickens and rabbits, said, “They don’t want us little guys feeding ourselves. They want us to go all to the big farms. They want to do away with small farms and I believe that is what’s motivating it.”

This movement shut down small farmers is a boon for large industrial farms, which will benefit from the lack of competition.   Sustaining one’s family with homegrown food is a basic right; destroying it makes everyone more dependent on large, politically-connected corporations.

On principle,  every American should be concerned about the continued destruction of property rights.  When a “property owner” must pay the government annual duties and ask for permission do do basic things, it is apparent that the only real entity that may every actually own any land is the government.

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Tell the department to protect the rights of small farmers!

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Phone:  1-800-292-3939
Email: MDA-Info@Michigan.gov
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