Michigan Agriculture Commission Closer To Decision On Backyard Livestock

Feb 11, 2014

A state agriculture commission holds its final hearing Wednesday on a controversial new rule.

As we hear from The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Rick Pluta, it would end Right to Farm protections for people who raise chickens and other livestock in residential areas.

Right to Farm is the state’s effort to preempt nuisance lawsuits against farmers by their neighbors in rural areas. Jim Johnson is with the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He says the new rule would not outlaw backyard livestock. It would leave it up to local zoning boards to decide.

“We’re not telling you that you can’t have livestock in an urban setting,” he says.  “We’re simply saying that that needs to be a local decision.”

Wendy Lockwood Banka of the Michigan Small Farm Council says she and other backyard livestock farmers are just as deserving of Right to Farm protections.

“We think that we’re still going to go to court and we’re still going to win Right to Farm cases,” she says.

The agriculture commission is expected to make its final decision next month.