Right to Farm: Core Arguments

I've written so many times about why the actions of MDARD and the Ag Commission are unfair to small farmers, that when I started this blog it seemed as if all of those arguments were already commonly understood.

But that isn't the case, of course.  Right to Farm and the GAAMPs are such arcane subjects that very few people understand what the dispute between small farmers and MDARD is really all about in Michigan.  So here they are, those good old core arguments again.

Right to Farm Protects Every Michigan Citizen Who Meets Right to Farm Criteria  The law does not restrict its protections to farms of a certain minimum or maximum size, and does not restrict to farms that operate only on agriculturally-zoned land.   The lack of these kinds of restrictions become very clear if you read the law itself.

Right to Farm Criteria are generally thought to be the following:

  1. Farm Operation
  2. Commercial in Nature
  3. Follows Applicable GAAMPs Guidelines

Right to Farm Protections are much broader than is widely understood, and includes at least the following:

  1. Protection from Nuisance Lawsuits from Neighbors
  2. Protection from Local Regulations such as Zoning and Ordinances
  3. Protection from some MDEQ regulations per a Memorandum of Understanding with MDARD
  4. Protection from other legal requirements when other laws refer to Right to Farm and add additional protections
  5. Protection from other legal requirements when other laws refer to the Generally Accepted Agriculture and Management Practices and add additional protections

Farm Operations are Only Required to Meet the Requirements of Applicable GAAMPs.  There are 8 sets of GAAMPs, and only a subset are applicable to any given farm operation.  For example, if a farm does not have cranberries it is not required to meet the Cranberry GAAMPs.

The GAAMP for Site Selection and Odor Control for Livestock Production Facilities Applies Only to Farms with 50 Animal Units or More because "Livestock Production Facility", as used in the title of this GAAMPs document, is defined by MDARD to mean 50 animal units on page 3 of that document.

Small operations with poultry in residential areas typically need to meet the requirements of the Manure GAAMPs, as was required by Papesh in 2006; it isn't clear whether any of the other GAAMPs documents are applicable to very small poultry operations.