Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s recent opinion nullifies local governments’ efforts to regulate farming through locally passed ordinances. His opinion asserts that the state’s Right to Farm Act preempts local government ordinances.
The opinion upholds RTFA’s intent to prevent farms from being found a nuisance if the farm complies with the state’s Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs).
Requested by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and 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.”
It also affirms the act negates locally made regulations that extend or revise the RTFA provisions or GAAMPs, which outline specific farming practices, such as the care of farm animals, site selection, nutrient utilization, manure management, irrigation and water use, pesticide utilization and pest control, cranberry production, and farm markets.
The opinion is particularly relevant as the RTFA has been recently challenged 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 told the Michigan Farm Bureau. “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.”
In a press release, MFB President Carl Bednarski said, “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,” he said. “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.”