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Action Alert - visit     
Uphold Michigan's Right to Farm Act 
Meeting Thursday, May 15 - Sign Petition, Call, Attend
Livestock on land zoned for 
residential use would no 
longer be protected! 
Act Now to uphold the 
Michigan Right to Farm Act!

Michigan Senate Ag. Committee

Thursday, May 15 starting at 8:30 a.m. 

Boji Tower 

Senate Hearing Room, Ground Floor
124 W. Allegan Street 
Lansing, MI 48933  [directions]


Michigan currently has the strongest Right to Farm Act (RTFA) in the country; under Michigan's RTFA, all Michigan citizens have the right to farm as long as they are a commercial operation of any size and the farm follows applicable generally accepted agricultural and management practices (GAAMPs) determined by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).


The law provides these rights to every Michigan citizen who meets these requirements (commercial in nature and compliant with GAAMPs), and does not limit these protections to farm operations of a minimum size or in a certain place. 


By making changes to the GAAMPs, MDARD is now attempting to eliminate legal Right to Farm protection for operations as small as a single animal. Any change in the GAAMPs that introduces a requirement that cannot be met by good management practices is tantamount to denying Right to Farm protection. 


The Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee has asked MDARD to testify on the changes on Thursday, May 15th, 2014.


In this case, the changes are so impactful that all farms in urban areas, in transitional areas around urban areas, and many farms in rural areas will be affected, such that the vast majority of the state will lose Right to Farm protection for the first time.


This is wrong for many reasons, but the Michigan legislature needs to hear that, at its core, it is a 'separation of powers' issue. As Michelle Halley, who successfully represented FTCLDF members Randy and Libby Buchler in a right-to-farm case one year ago, said, "The agency can't rewrite the law. They have only the authority to carry it out as the legislature intended. If they're going beyond that, they're violating the separation of powers. Period." 


The Senate Ag Committee needs to hear how these changes will affect real people.

Can't attend the meeting? See what else you can do below! 
Please share the petition with friends, family and neighbors.  
What You Can Do
Please Speak Up at the Meeting and/or Via the Petition & Phone Calls

The most important story to tell is yours. Let the Senate Agriculture Committee know why it is important to you that all citizens in Michigan have a right to participate in the production of their own food, wherever they live.


MDARD claims that "raising chickens or other food for your own family's consumption has never been within the scope of the Right to Farm Act" but fails to admit that many who do also sell what they produce and thereby qualify as a commercial operation. The changes invite local government to enforce zoning requirements which the RTFA clearly prohibits.



Voice your support for the Michigan Right to Farm Act at the meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 15, 2014, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room, Ground Floor, Boji Tower, 124 W. Allegan Street, Lansing, MI 48933 [ directions ]

Use the online petition to FAX your comments to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Comments will also be emailed to the committee clerk.
Your message will appear below this statement:
I urge you to rein in MDARD and reassert legislative control over the Michigan Right to Farm Act (RTFA). The changes for the 2014 Site Selection GAAMPs essentially revoke statutory Right to Farm protection to Michigan citizens. Many of the changes are in violation of 'separation of powers' between legislative authority and state agency action. It is illegal rulemaking to use policy to circumvent the law. 


Follow up with phone calls and emails to each member of the Senate Agriculture Committee; see contact information below.
Talking Points
Changes to the GAAMPs are to be based on scientific evidence and for purposes of improving public health or the environment. MDARD has provided no scientific evidence to support the changes nor any evidence to show that small farms in residentially zoned areas are a threat.

The changes also deny legal Right to Farm protection in the places where most Michigan citizens live, that is, urban areas and the more rural areas that surround them. The GAAMPs were intended to cover farm management practices, not affect zoning. The Agriculture Commission and MDARD have overstepped their authority by changing the GAAMPs to allow local zoning to override the RTFA. Owning even a single chicken or rabbit (such as for 4-H) can now be prohibited even if it is part of a commercial venture.
  • Changes to the GAAMPs are to be based on scientific evidence but none has been provided to support the changes to the Site Selection GAAMPs.
  • Changes to the GAAMPs are to be for purposes of improved public health or the environment but no evidence has been provided to show that small farms in residentially zoned areas are a threat.
  • The changes deny legal Right to Farm protection in the places where most Michigan citizens live--urban areas and the more rural areas that surround them. Because most of these areas also have local ordinances that preclude the keeping of livestock, the net effect of this change to state law will be to create a situation in which it is largely illegal to farm in Michigan, even at the smallest level of keeping a single small animal such as a chicken.
  • While the Agriculture Commission has the authority to change the language of the GAAMPs to ensure that acceptable management practices are used on farms that earn Right to Farm protection, they do NOT have the authority to eliminate the possibility of Right to Farm protection for the majority of Michigan citizens, for reasons that are not tied to acceptable agricultural management practices.
  • MDARD is using its resources and authority to support intensive agricultural operations in the state at the expense of small traditional and sustainable operations--citizens pay taxes to support all kinds of agriculture in Michigan, and not just corporate agriculture.
  • The proposed changes create language in the GAAMPs that contradicts the language of the law (i.e., the GAAMPs allow zoning to regulate Livestock Facilities while the Law prohibits zoning from regulating them)--the Ag Commission does NOT have the authority to change the meaning of the law, and that is what this change does.
Senate Agriculture Committee 
Email and Call Members 

Please use the online FAX petition to email each member of the Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee. Please personalize your own comments. When you're done, please follow up with phone calls. See talking points above. 


For your convenience, you can copy/paste this list into the "To" field to send follow-up emails:

[email protected][email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
[email protected]


Joe Hune (R), Chair

(517) 373-2420 

[email protected]  


Darwin L Booher (R), Majority Vice Chair

(517) 373-1725

[email protected]


Virgil Smith (D), Minority Vice Chair  

(517) 373-7918
[email protected] 


Judy K Emmons (R)

(517) 373-3760

[email protected]


Goeff Hansen (R)

(517) 373-1635


Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit [EIN 20-8605130], defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and artisan food producers while protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods. Learn more About Us or read the FTCLDF 2012 Summary.

Membership benefits include the possibility of representation in court; the Fund typically pays for all court costs. The Fund is not an insurance company and cannot guarantee representation on all legal matters. Your membership fees and donations help to keep local food sources available and preserve family farms facing unjust enforcement actions.

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Please forward this alert to others who are concerned about protecting locally-sourced nutrient-dense foods and preserving sustainable small family farms and artisan food producers as well as defending the rights to sell and to access the foods of one's choice from the source of one's choice.    

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