Dear Mike: This is a significant victory for the local foods movement, and for small farms across the state of Michigan. See press release, below.– Kimberly Hartke
Judge Holds Michigan Right to Farm Act Protects Family Farm
For Immediate Release
Falls Church, Virginia (December 20, 2012) —Randy and Libby Buchler of Shady Grove Farm learned yesterday that their farming operation in Forsyth Township, Michigan can continue. Judge Thomas L. Solka of the Marquette County Circuit Court ruled that “because defendants’ farm . . . is protected from nuisance suits under the Right to Farm Act plaintiff’s request for an injunction closing the farm is denied.” [See Solka opinion, p.16]
The Right to Farm Act was invoked as a defense when the family farm was sued by Forsyth Township for having approximately 150 chickens and 8 sheep on their 6.5 acres; the Buchlers sell eggs and wool produced on the farm. Because the area where they farm is not zoned for agriculture, the township sought an injunction to halt the farming activities. The judge held that the Right to Farm Act controlled over the township zoning ordinance.
“Michigan has the best Right to Farm Act in the nation. It is great to see the court upholding it in their decision,” says attorney Pete Kennedy, President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (The Fund).
The Buchlers greeted the news with smiles and hugs and vowed to “keep on providing food for our family and the community. That’s all we’re trying to do here. We are really grateful for all of the support we’ve received from the local community, farmers across the country, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.”
The Fund retained attorney Michelle Halley of Marquette as lead counsel to represent the Buchlers; Fund board member and attorney Steve Bemis of Ann Arbor served as co-counsel in the case.
The Buchlers’ attorney, Michelle Halley said, “Judge Solka’s opinion is spot-on and well-reasoned. He applied the law as written; this case really was that straight-forward. This decision is a victory for the Buchlers and farmers across Michigan.”
Michigan’s Right to Farm Act contains a broad and clear edict stating that commercial farms that conform to applicable Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) are not subject to nuisance suits. The Act was further amended and took effect in 2000 to make its preemption of local zoning even more clear.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a 501(c)(4), 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. Join or donate online at www.farmtoconsumer.org or by calling 703-208-FARM (3276).
Contact: Kimberly Hartke, Publicist, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund