Michigan residents lost their “right to farm” this week. This is a new ruling by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. Gail Philburn of the Michigan Sierra Club told Michigan Live, the new changes “effectively remove Right to Farm Act protection for many urban and suburban backyard farmers raising small numbers of animals.” Previously backyard and urban farming were protected by Michigan’s Right to Farm Act but The Commission has ruled that the Right to Farm Act protections no longer apply to many homeowners who keep small amount of livestock. Kim White, who keeps chickens and rabbits, said, “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’s motivating it.” The ruling will allow local governments to ban goats, chickens and beehives on any property where there are 13 homes within one eighth mile or a residence within 250 feet of the property.
The Right to Farm Act was 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. These new changes will affect residents of rural Michigan too. Shady Grove Farm in Gwinn, Michigan is on six and a half acres and homes 150 egg-laying hens that provide eggs to a local co-op and a local restaurant. This small Michigan farm also homes sheep for wool and a few turkeys and meat chickens to provide fresh healthy, local poultry. “We produce food with integrity,” says Randy Buchler of Shady Grove Farm. “Everything we do here is 100 percent natural — we like to say it’s beyond organic. We take a lot of pride and care in what we’re doing here.” Shady Grove Farm was doing its part to educate and provide healthy, local, organic food to the people of Gwinn. It reflects the attitudes of hundreds of other small farms in Michigan and thousands of others popping up around the nation. This loss of right to farm comes within days of a report by The World Health Organization that stated the world is currently in severe danger of entering a post-antibiotic era. The WHO’s director-general Dr. Margaret Chan argued that the antibiotic use 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,” Gail Philbin told MLive.
“There’s a lot of unnecessary legal action being taken against small farms who are doing good things in their communities,” said Randy Buchler, who is also on the board of directors for the Michigan Small Farm Council. The Michigan Small Farm Council actively fought to support Michigan farming freedom, but ultimately the Commission voted to approve the new restrictions.
How is this happening in this day and age!! How can we teach our children to grow organic food and have the chance to cleanse there bodies (and ours) of the pesticides and toxins that are used on the large farms and to rid us of the processed foods when “they” take away our very right to feed ourselves!