Michigan Farm Bureau reminds members to contact the Agriculture and Rural Development Commission by Jan. 23, encouraging the commissioners to protect the Right to Farm by voting to remove zoning references from the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) on site selection at their Jan. 30 meeting.
You can help by texting the phrase “MI RTF” to the number “52886” and follow the instructions provided to show your support to the five-member commission.
The vote on Jan. 30 is the final step of an annual GAAMPs review process where committees of various experts revise and update the practices as necessary before they’re reviewed and approved by the Commission.
According to MFB Government Relations Specialist Matt Kapp, the organization believes removing zoning references within the GAAMPs on site selection upholds the Right to Farm Act’s integrity and is in line with the Attorney General’s 2018 opinion that reaffirmed the law’s preemption of local zoning.
“MFB continues to believe that our state’s Right to Farm Act is the model for our country,” Kapp said. “There’s no question it has allowed all sectors of Michigan agriculture to move forward utilizing GAAMPs on a voluntary basis while enhancing and protecting the environment.”
According to Kapp, MFB weighed in with strong written support of the proposed changes to remove any reference of zoning within the siting GAAMPs, saying that requiring zoning conformance is contrary to the legislative intent of the 1999 Right to Farm Act amendments.
“A growing number of townships have developed their own ordinances regulating livestock agriculture as an end-around to the state’s Siting GAAMPs within Right to Farm,” Kapp said, referencing recent examples in Genesee County’s Fenton Township and Calhoun County’s Leroy Townships where local township officials attempted to use zoning ordinances to effectively box-out agriculture.
“There have been other cases such as Brady Township, in Kalamazoo County, where local officials used the zoning conformance requirement against farmers by changing the zoning in a portion of the township with the explicit intent to restrict expansion of livestock agriculture,” he said. “There was another case in a very rural area of Newaygo County, where a producer was denied siting approval because the site resided in a zoning district that did not allow agriculture, even though the farmer was planning to build a facility in the middle of a forest – the site was more than ideal for a livestock production facility.”