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A Ban On Owning Farm Animals? Michigan Is Considering It

michigan farm restriction animals

Kelly VanderKley. Image source:

Keeping even one “farm animal” in residential neighborhoods could soon be illegal in Michigan. That’s because a proposed change to state regulations could strip property owners of the right to keep and raise small numbers of poultry or livestock.

Michigan’s Right to Farm Act currently extends to all property owners in the state, including those in areas zoned residential or commercial. The state Agricultural Commission is considering a change to the regulations – called Generally Acceptable Agricultural And Management Practices (GAAMPS) — that would strip property owners of that right.

“It would exclude a whole bunch of people who are seeking Right to Farm protection,” Randy Buchler of the Michigan Small Farm Council said of the proposal, “and strip the small farmers of their right to be protected by a state law.”

The change would allow local governments to bar people from keeping small numbers of animals such as one cow or pig or a flock of chickens on their property. The law does this by labeling certain kinds of property, such as lots in subdivisions or small homesteads, as unacceptable for livestock.

Currently, Strong Legal Protections For Farms

Currently, Michigan property owners such as Buchler can go to court and get restrictions on livestock ownership overturned. The changes to the law would restrict that right to farmers with more than 50 animals.

“What they are trying to do is to take away Right to Farm protection from people trying to be self-sufficient but not able to do agriculture on any level according their local zoning,” Buchler said of the commission.

Discover The Only Way Back To True Freedom And Liberty In America…

That could effectively strip most residential properties in Michigan of Right to Farm protections. It would also give local governments the power to stop people from raising small numbers of animals on their property.

“Small farms are protected the same way any farm is,” Brad Deacon of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development noted. That protection has upset some residents who don’t like the idea of livestock in rural areas.

Farmers Are Threatened

Michigan’s Right to Farm Act (RFTA) is the strongest legal protection for individuals’ right to grow food in the nation, the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund noted. The Fund is one of a number of groups that believe the proposed changes threaten property rights.

“The protection that Michigan’s RTFA provides to suburban and urban farms on non-ag zoned land is now in jeopardy,” the Defense Fund said in a press release.

“The agency can’t rewrite the law,” Buchler said of the Agricultural Commission. He accused the commission of trying to usurp the powers of the state legislature and overturn the legislature’s decision. “They have only the authority to carry it out as the legislature intended. If they’re going beyond that, they’re violating the separation of powers. Period.”

The farm of at least one family is already under threat from the proposed changes. Kelly VanderKley and David Hunter received a letter giving them 90 days to get rid of most of their farm animals because their land is zoned residential. According to, they have a horse, two donkeys, five ducks, a flock of chickens and 11 young turkeys. The letter said they could have only “only one horse and one donkey; or one horse and 3 fowl; or 13 fowls.”

In the end, they won the right to keep the animals under the Right to Farm Act. The proposed changes would give the Township the right to force the couple to get rid of their animals.

The Michigan Small Farm Council asked all of the state’s residents to contact the Agricultural Commission by Jan. 22 and complain. The Commission hasn’t approved the changes.

“A great deal is at stake here, and I hope each of you will appeal to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture for continued Right to Farm protection for small farmers in Michigan,” Council President Wendy Lockwood Bank wrote in the press release.

The battle in Michigan is only the latest example of efforts by local governments to restrict the growing of food on residential properties. For instance, cities in Florida have tried to force residents to remove vegetable gardens from their front yards.

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  1. This is a prime example of why we need to out law politicians who cannot pass a certain level of IQ tests. This is another attempt to control the population, and those in favor need to be removed from office and or have their voting rights revoked.

    Prime example number two: “That protection has upset some residents who don’t like the idea of livestock in rural areas.” That statement is as stupid as it looks. I can see where urban areas would have a concern, but rural? You would have to be thinking with some drug induced thought patterns to think that is good logic.

    • Shady Grove Farm U.P.

      Tom, I would have to agree. There are many “rural” or “rural residential” areas where we live here in the U.P. that have upwards of 80 acres. This new language would take away Right to Farm protections from these people, IF the local municipalities took them to court.

      • Better give those local officials IQ tests immediately; sounds like a lot of them have IQ’s of only room temperature.

        • You know, in many instances unfortunately, they aren’t stupid. Stupid can be fixed easier than those who have sold out to the devil. That is a much bigger concern. From that point forward they will do anything possible, legally or not, constitutionally or not to maintain that status with the Agenda 21 brats.

          • Exactly Tom. This is not stupidity but rather about control and money. The corporations don’t want anyone threatening their monopolies.

    • I have seen it where people move into areas where there has been farming, ranching, stables, etc., for decades, then complain loud and clear about the animals or view. Unfortunately, they frequently seem to win. The only reason I can understand them winning is the politicians in the area see that, hmm, if we force the agriculture out, we can develop that land and make more money for our county/town/city. It pretty much boils down to the money. Say 160 or 240 or 320 or more houses on that 80 acres of agricultural land. How much will they gain on taxes? Quite a bit…Politicians don’t see much but the greed for money, and more money. They don’t see down the road to where is the food going to come from, how are people going to survive without the ability to provide for themselves, or how they will destroy the land putting up asphalt roads and line after line of houses.. They flat out don’t care. Period. It’s all money, money, money.

  2. I see from the article that the Ag Commission met Jan. 22nd on this issue. I just saw the article posted last night on FB. (Jan. 24th). Has anyone heard the outcome of that meeting?

    • Shady Grove Farm U.P.

      Julie, the outcome of that meeting was that none of the Ag Commissioners showed up to listen to the public comment or the citizen’s concerns. There was a stenographer there recording everyone’s comments.

      I would also like to clarify that the following quotes that are in the story above are from our a lawyer, Michelle Halley, who helped us win our Right to Farm case. She was hired by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and did an amazing job.

      “The agency can’t rewrite the law,” Buchler said of the Agricultural Commission. He accused the commission of trying to usurp the powers of the state legislature and overturn the legislature’s decision. “They have only the authority to carry it out as the legislature intended. If they’re going beyond that, they’re violating the separation of powers. Period.” (This was part of Michelle’s letter to MDARD and the Ag Commissioners) I want to give credit where credit is due. :-) I didn’t accuse the commission of anything, I was relaying information to an Mlive reporter.

  3. Greetings again from the Convicted Chicken Criminal,
    This issue was foreshadowed when my hometown filed criminal charges against me and a few other people. We were not allowed to use the RTFA as a defense in 21st. District Court. Our legal rights were denied by the local court.

    Now all citizens of Michigan may have their rights denied if the proposed changes take place.

    What the Agriculture Commissioners and MDARD is doing this is dirty politics. According to the letter of the law, a farm has legal protection if it meets three (3) criteria:
    1) Produce an agriculture product;
    2) Sell that product;
    3) Comply with the GAAMPs

    What MDARD is doing is taking away the compliance part of the law and letting local towns set the rules based on arbitrary zoning. Any house that is currently or can be zoned as “residential” is automatically denied protection. Any farm that is within 1/4 mile of a zoned resident can also lose protection.

    Also hidden within the proposed changes are reductions in the enforcement of environmental impact of large farm operations (CAFOs). For example, pesticides can be used off-label and their disposal is no longer to be regulated as it is currently. Irrigation and ground water are also affected.

    Essentially, MDARD is working against any and all small scale farms as they cater to mega-farms and corporate interests by removing the rights of the citizenry.

    Randy Zeilinger V.P.
    Michigan Small Farm Council

  4. The pioneers tame the land.
    The farmers settle the land.
    The politicians take the land away.

  5. Anyone who applies for a building permit in my township in WI is flat out told that certain smells and sounds go along with rural life, and if you go ahead and get the permit, you have therefore accepted those smells and sounds.

  6. First off this is not politicians, this sounds like its the Ag Commission. This group is appointed by the Gov and the House members do not play a role in this, but your Senator has some say. This reminds me of my fight with the DEQ when they wanted to stop burning in a trash can or make it possible for the police to go thru your campfire with a stick to see if someone by chance threw a piece of plastic in it. This proposal is sad and to see that it comes via the Ag Committee is even worse. I would ask my Legislator to ask for the dismissal of the board for even considering such legislation!

  7. Sounds like corporate farms want to be the only way anyone can raise food and livestock.
    I’m sure they have funded this in some way.

  8. This issue is being misrepresented in this article. Local zoning ordinances determine if livestock are permitted. The Right to Farm Act protects farmers who are following Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPS) from nuisance suits. The Right to Farm law was written during a time period when farming operations were being encroached upon by residental development.

  9. In these economic time we should be going back to growing our own produce and raising a few chickens, etc. If the city minded people don’t like it then go back to the city. I live in a rural area and am tired of the people moving to this area and want everything changed to their liking – if you move to a rural area then accept their ways. Subdivision mentality includes way too many chemicals and pesticides just to have a pristine looking lawn.

  10. I bet Monsanto is the driving force behind this!

  11. Second hand smoke

    Michigan is stupid.The animals will just leave when they hear that and then Michigan won’t have any friends.

  12. This society is post-orwellian. This is beyond insanity. If we don’t get together and stop the sociopaths and people from the insane asylum running our country, then we are in big trouble. Michigan is already one of the worse economic areas in the country; so wow that’s great let’s stop people from trying to feed themselves. Excellent! Not only can they not find a job that pays squat; but let’s stop them from trying to be self-sufficient too. What a concept!

    Seriously, what the blank (f***) are we going to put up with people? Turn off the televisions and march on D.C. (the District of Criminals)! This is getting out of control.

  13. Vote them all out, take back the rights given to you, but usurped by years of apathy…. only you can retake your rights…..we must all stand together, or all hang individually…..

  14. I was taken to court for having TWO chickens. When I was in court, the judge asked what I did with the chickens. “I killed them. What else, besides going to jail or paying a fine, was I supposed to do!?! By the way, those two chickens were my child’s pets. You can explain it to her.”

  15. I sure wish OfftheGridNews would have posted this BEFORE the cutoff of commenting to the Michigan legislature! This is the first I am hearing of it, and the comments were closed the 22nd. Thanks for keeping us informed, but OTGN should do it sooner.

  16. I need to use my face book but I never remember to. I’m a Pro Se’ Attorney in fact for myself and my father. I have two cases plus one case last year in I have a case in the United States District Court Western District Court Northern Division. Two actually but one I just filed a motion for reconsideration for the the U.S. District Judge or illegal U.S. Magistrate. Michigan Constitution banned Masters of Chancery [magistrates] under the constitution. U.S. to reconsider with new evidence. They lied on the new documents they claim are residential. There are no residence on either parcel. Because my case with FORSYTH TOWNSHIP a FOREIGN STATE, who is operating under FOREIGN LAW cited me, I did file a JUDICIAL NOTICE OF FOREIGN LAW and Quo Warranto prior to the remand back to the 96th District Court. My case is a Jury Demand.

    My case basically amounts to this. FOREIGN AGENTS acting UNDER COLOR OF LAW in violation of our laws Constitutional Republic Michigan and United States Constitution attacking us to raise revenue to keep themselves employed by their unlawful acts. After being threatened by a neighbor when I returned on a permanent basis to my home in FORSYTH TOWNSHIP he said he was going to turn me into the TOWNSHIP because I have antiques on my farm and claimed the same requirement for operating a vehicle on public roads also was being applied to me. Well MCL257.216 also protects me from that luciferian lie. These people are satanists. Satan is the accuser of the brethern (Outdoor Storage); on private property is not illegal nor can they encroach on your property or rights. This proves they are in disguise in violation of title 18 U.S.Codes.

    He also threatened me while he was trespassing and said he would hit me with a baseball bat if I drove across his land on a four wheeler like he was doing to me. Then I was cited by the TOWNSHIP. I have a barn. The land was my grandfathers and fathers farm, now my farm. My grandfather moved to the U.S. then Gwinn over 100 years ago from Finland They claim I violated their illegal debris ordinance which gives Carte’ Blanche authority to these witches to falsely claim you can be cited for even sticks and leaves and grass in the woods. I have a tree farm. Were protected under the Farm Act grandfathers then my cousins farm. If she’s behind this, she raised horses all my life until I graduated High school and we sniffed horse shit, goat shit, dog shit, cat shit, chicken shit, and every other shit that found it’s way into or outside her barn. My grandfathers cattle grazed on our land and my cousins horses roamed and grazed our land as well. I can see her barn which I can see from my front yard. Now in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, if theres enough dust left in the earth after this boondoggle of injustice and attack on my life I’m counter-plundering these Goddamned bastards and going to take their toys and money away from them for wasting my time. I’ve been in this for years now and I pray that God will raise up more true patriots who have a brain and balls enough to legally trounce these treasonous twits. It’s written on the deed for my neighbor “Farm Act” carved off of my cousins land and I’ve claimed my U.S. Land Patents and everything is filed in the Register of Deeds. I’ve published Legal Notice in the Newspaper as to my updated claim of Patent redeeming my land in the proper method becoming a Sovereign and renouncing my land registration under the illegal feudal tenancy British Colony method that they placed on everyone else who hasn’t studied history and understands we won the revolution and freedom from taxation on and for private property. Wake up. Break the spell these black robed occultists cast on you. Why do you allow military flags to fly in your courtroom? Are you being court martial-ed? Are you in agreement with Maritime Law – Admiralty Law?

    My case has exhibits I entered that prove see 2:13-cv-371 and you may view 2:14-cv-00039, 1. The MICHIGAN 96th District Court has 1. entertained a citation with a predetermined guilty verdict. 2. Has no Statutory Authority on the citation. 3. Has no officer I.D. number for the assessor. Basically it’s a traffic citation which doesn’t meet the standard for legality on any civil action under the Michigan Court rules. Besides the Farm Act, the MCL257.216 protects my “implements of husbandry” farm equipment and spare parts etc. from TOWNSHIP harassment. I also filed a Ten Million Dollar Counterclaim which places the case in the Jurisdiction of certainly of the U.S. District Court, U.S. Supreme Court but someone and I’m not sure who, remanded the case back to Judge Girard in the 96th District Court. The case cannot be heard there by Judge or Jury as the Jurisdictional limit is only $25,000.00. I filed a timely Jury Demand. You only have a MAGISTRATE in Marquette. The U.S. Judges are Downstate.

    I removed the case to the U.S. Court because the clerks in both the 96th District Court and the 25th Circuit Court of MICHIGAN both denied my filing rights. So, I marched across the Street and filed the removal in the Federal Court. Later I filed on December 27th 2013, my NOTICE OF REMOVAL. She Leigh Gervae Accepted it for filing. One for her and one for me. Defendants Exhibit 40 2:13-cv-371RAED. Ms. Gervae failed to record the document in the REGISTER OF ACTIONS. defendants Exhibit 38a, 38b. They falsified the REGISTER OF ACTIONS and cited me on 11/18/2013. They sentenced me the following day. 11/19/2013. I’m not kidding, or joking this really happened according to their records. This proves several counts of due process of law. Download my cases for $10.00 a copy off Status. If the U.S District Court remands me again to the 96th District Court, that court lacks jurisdiction in the matter. Ten Million Dollar Counterclaim. Jurisdictional Limit is $25,000.00. Further the plaintiffs joint and several defaulted. I filed the Entry of Default last February. I won my case but we’ll see if the Federal Court acts as defense attorney for the plaintiffs joint and several.

    I have a MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT in now. I have a Jury demand and am not consenting to a MAGISTRATE (master of chancery) or any bench trials. Jury only for my damages. Their claims are expired.

    John R. Kanerva United States of America assignee list 8 for my legal descriptions Mqt. Cty. Mich. [email protected]

  17. Rev J. Christopher Boyd

    There are some that should the township whomever approach them and tell them to cease and desist that will commit an act and they will be incarcerated. Use common sense

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