Here we are at last to the farmer citizen, wishing only to engage in agriculture and bewildered at both the opportunity that Michigan's Right to Farm Act affords, and at the efforts of MDARD to stymie agricultural rights for anyone. For most backyard chicken farmers, agricultural issues at the state level are new territory, and have only been made sensible by the sharing of information by a number of venues, most especially the Backyard Chickens website, on the Michigan Right to Farm Law, what does it mean? thread, which began in 2009. By the summer of 2012, participants in this thread were attending monthly meetings of the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development, to protest changes that had already occurred to the 2012 GAAMPS, which exempted 1.5 million citizens from Right to Farm protection, and to protest the proposed changes to the 2013 Site Selection GAAMPS that would have exempt 80 percent or more of Michigan residents from Right to Farm protection - effectively reversing the 1999 amendment to the Right to Farm Act for small farmers in both urban and rural areas.
At the December 2012 Agriculture Commission meeting, the proposed changes to the 2013 Site Selection GAAMPS were not approved, by a unanimous vote of the commission. To my knowledge, this is the only time in the history of the GAAMPS that a proposed change to the GAAMPS promulgated by MDARD to the Commission has not been approved. During the same meeting, however, it was stated that the Commission would not reconsider the changes made the previous year to the 2012 GAAMPs Preface.
As a result of the changes to the 2012 GAAMPs Preface and the proposed changes to the 2013 Site Selection GAAMPs, people interested in working to maintain Right to Farm protection for all Michigan citizens formed a new organization called the Michigan Small Farm Council. If you are a resident of Michigan interested in these issues, we invite you to join. It is easy and free. Please also check out our FaceBook page.
During 2013 all was (relatively) quiet on the GAAMPs front, with no GAAMPs proposed to the Agriculture Commission, and none approved. Members of the Michigan Small Farm Council, however, continued to attend meetings of the Agriculture Commission, and to build an organizational structure for the MSFC.
This brief period of calm ended in January 2014, when MDARD announced a public comment period on what would become the 2014 GAAMPs. The Michigan Small Farm Council released an Action Alert, the Action Alert was picked up by the press, and two weeks later MDARD had received feedback from 684 small farmers and their supporters, objecting to changes to the Site Selection GAAMPs that would effectively deny Right to Farm protection to everyone in the state living in residentially-zoned areas. Part of what happened next is told in the series of This is Not About Chickens blog that were written during March, 2014. Other parts of what happened are told in the Newsletters, Action Alerts, and other MSFC Member Notifications. These and other documents produced by the Michigan Small Farm Council are shown here, to document the history of our efforts to oppose changes to the GAAMPs that have the effect of making it impossible to grow food legally for most citizens in the state of Michigan.
Jan, 2014 MSFC Member Newsletter - Deanna's Story
May, 2013 MSFC Certificate of Incorporation
2013 - Sample Manure Management Plan written in preparation for a GAAMPs inspection.