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    Michigan Right to Farm Act
    Act 93 of 1981
     
    The Michigan Right to Farm Act was initially passed in 1981 with the intent of protecting farmers from nuisance lawsuits. The act has been amended several times since. In short, the law says that farmers following the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMP) cannot be sued for the noise, dust, odor, etc. emanating from their farm, so long as this "nuisance" is the result of normal operations under the umbrella of the GAAMPs. (1)

     

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    Content of the Michigan Right to Farm Act
     
    The GAAMPs are set by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture. The Commission is required by law to review the standards annually and revise them "as considered necessary." Additionally, farms are protected from nuisance complaints that arise from land use changes within one mile of the farm. For example, if a farm is operating according to the GAAMP, and the land adjacent to the farm is rezoned and houses are built, the farmers are legally protected from suit by the homeowners because they were operating before the change in land use. (2)
     
    Farmers also have the ability to recover legal fees from a plaintiff, which are "reasonably incurred," in defense of their farm operation if a suit brought against them is decided in their favor. (3)
     
    In order to avoid suits being brought against farmers, and to protect sellers, those selling land within one mile of a farm operation may make the following statement to prospective buyers: "This notice is to inform prospective residents that the real property they are about to acquire lies within 1 mile of the property boundary of a farm or farm operation. Generally accepted agricultural and management practices may be utilized by the farm or farm operation and may generate usual and ordinary noise, dust, odors, and other associated conditions, and these practices are protected by the Michigan right to farm act." (4)
     
    If a complaint is made against a farm operation, then the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), or someone designated by the director, must investigate the complaint within seven business days. If the farm is found to be using GAAMP, then the person investigating the complaint must then notify the complainant and the municipality in which the farm is located. If the farm is not using GAAMP, then the farm has thirty days to correct the violation except in cases where this time frame is not feasible. In those cases the farm must submit a plan to the MDA laying out how they are going to address the violation. The director or their designee must then perform a follow-up visit to determine if the problem has been addressed. (5)
     
    If a complainant brings three complaints against a farm, and the farm is found to be in compliance with the GAAMP for all three complaints, then the MDA may charge the complainant for the cost of subsequent investigations if they also turn out to be unverified. (5)
     
    As of May 1, 2000, the Michigan Right to Farm Act was amended so that local units of government could not create stricter standards than those promulgated by the state government. This means that the Michigan Right to Farm Act prohibits local governments from passing any resolutions, ordinances, et cetera that would conflict with the Michigan Right to Farm Act or GAAMPs. However a local unit of government can submit a proposed ordinance to the MDA different from those contained in the Michigan Right to Farm Act or GAAMPs if "adverse effects on the environment or public health will exist within the local unit of government." The proposed change cannot conflict with state or federal law. The MDA then will hold a public meeting and consult with several units of government and make a decision about the proposed change within a proscribed period of time. (5)
    The Michigan Right to Farm Act can be read at the legislature's site here.
     
     
     
     
     
    1. Act 93 of 1981. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(nawdlfaul0rb1y452qsw2pqp))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-act-93-of-1981&queryid=8769063&highlight= September 28, 2008.
    2. Act 93 of 1981 286.473 Section 3 Subsection 1 http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(nawdlfaul0rb1y452qsw2pqp))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-act-93-of-1981&queryid=8769063&highlight= October 5, 2008.
    3. Act 93 of 1981 286.473b Section 3b http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(nawdlfaul0rb1y452qsw2pqp))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-act-93-of-1981&queryid=8769063&highlight= October 5, 2008.
    4. Act 93 of 1981 286.473c Section 3c http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(nawdlfaul0rb1y452qsw2pqp))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-act-93-of-1981&queryid=8769063&highlight= October 5, 2008.
    5. Act 93 of 1981 286.474 http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(nawdlfaul0rb1y452qsw2pqp))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-act-93-of-1981&queryid=8769063&highlight= October 5, 2008.
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