Michigan Loses “Right to Farm”

Image Credit: Wikipedia / geograph.org.uk

By: Amanda Froelich,

True Activist.

When families and individuals lose the right to feed themselves, you know things have gone South. Unfortunately, this has become reality for Michigan residents.

Thanks to a new ruling by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development, it is now “illegal” for those living in the Great Lake state to ‘backyard’ farm and raise chickens, goats, rabbits, and even bees.

To Michigan Live, Gail Philburn of the Michigan Sierra Club stated that the new changes “effectively remove Right to Farm Act protection for many urban and suburban backyard farmers raising small numbers of animals.”

This act previously protected backyard and urban farming, but last week the Comissions ruled it to no longer apply to the many homeowners who keep small numbers of livestock.

According to local resident Kim White, “They don’t want us little guys feeding ourselves. They want us to go all to the big farms. They want to do away with small farms and I believe that is what is motivating it.” With the passed ruling, local governments may now ban goats, chickens, and beehives on any property where there are 13 homes within one eighth mile or a resident within 250 feet of the property, according to Michigan Public Radio.

The Right to Farm Act was first created in 1981 to protect farmers from the complaints of people from the city who moved to the country and then attempted to make it more urban with anti-farming ordinances. It’s all residents who are affected by this new change, though; it’s not simply an urban or suburban concern.

What effect will it have? Here’s a glimpse: Shady Grove Farm in Gwinn, Michigan is a six and a half acre home and farm that hosts 150 egg-laying hens that provide eggs to a local co-op and a local restaurant. It also homes sheep for wool and a few turkeys and meat chickens to provide fresh, anti-biotic free poultry. Randy Buchler, the owner of the small farm, told The Blaze “We produce food with integrity. Everything we do here is 100 percent organic. We take a lot of pride and care in what we’re doing here.”

Shady Grove Farm has been doing its part to provide local citizens with the opportunity to obtain healthy, local, and organic food, and its efforts mirror hundreds of other small farming operations in Michigan. But with the new ruling, things will obviously change. Farmers and locals will be forced to rely on big agri-businesses to obtain their eggs, meat, and even honey, since bee-keeping is no longer allowed either.

This change comes just within days of the World Health Organization’s statement that the world is currently in grave danger of entering a post anti-biotic era. Director-general of the WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, argued that the use of antibiotics in our industrialized food supply is the worst offender adding to the global crisis. “The Michigan Agriculture Commission passed up an opportunity to support one of the hottest trends in food in Michigan – public demand for access to more local, healthy, sustainable food,” stated Gail Philbin to Michigan Live.

Obviously this news is startling for those concerned about farming freedom and sustainability. While the Inquisitor shares a more in-depth scope on similar action being taken in neighboring states to free up farming regulations, one thing is for sure: the ability to farm and grow food should be every person’s right, and for many Michigan and other US activists, this issue is far from settled.



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