Change in Urban Farming Rules

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The debate over allowing farm animals in residential neighborhoods isn't new.

"Not everyone wants to live next door to a pig or a chicken," said Mickey Martin, Williamstown Township Supervisor.

For those who don't, knowing who your neighbors are just got a little easier.

"It will certainly cut down on nuisance complaints and it'll cut down on confusion," Martin added.

The Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development passed changes to the state's Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMP), barring farm animals from areas zoned as residential where agriculture is not a use by right.

The site selection GAAMP defines primarily residential areas as, "locations where there are more than 13 homes within 1/8 of a mile of the site or any home within 250 feet of the proposed facility."

"Things are always moving and changing to make them better for our environment and our community," said Trever Meachum, Vice Chair of the Commission.

Michigan's Right to Farm law protects farmers who follow the state's generally accepted farming practices. But Monday's decision means people will have to follow guidelines set by their townships.

"It's about the balance of trying to keep suburban and urban agriculture happy with agriculture out in the countryside, whether it's one cow or 100," Meachum said.

Some suburban farmers are upset that this change will make their farms illegal because of how their property is zoned in their township.

"It would strip away our rights to produce any agricultural product," said Randy Zeilinger, a suburban farmer from Garden City. "We don't want to lose that."

No matter the opinion, this decision will change suburban and urban farming in Michigan.

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