2010 Michigan Right to Farm complaints often target dairy and horses

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Farms in Michigan enhance rural communities. Dairy, the largest livestock sector in the state, contributes over 20% of all cash receipts in agriculture in Michigan. But looking at Right to Farm complaints tells us that dairy farms still need to be vigilant about maintaining a viable industry within the rural landscape. The most common complaints include air quality (odor) and surface water issues.

Curiously, the number of complaints against horse farms is also very high. This is often due to manure stacking issues; many horse owners lack the equipment to spread manure. So learning how to compost manure effectively would be a good management practice that horse owners could implement to decrease complaints.

The Right to Farm law allows farmers to operate with protection from nuisance complaints as long as they are following Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices or GAAMPS. These GAAMPS are operating guidelines farmers follow; they include Manure Management, Nutrient Management, Animal Care and others. By following these guidelines, farmers can continue to operate with Right to Farm nuisance protection.

However, people can report a farm to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development when they feel that particular farm is not operating according to GAAMPS. Complaints are typically about odor, dust, surface water issues, noise and others.

Below is a table summarizing Michigan Right to Farm complaints by enterprise type (percentage of all complaints) for fiscal years 2007 through 2010

Enterprise

2010

2009

2008

2007

Beef

19%

18%

17%

20%

Dairy

29%

33%

27%

29%

Crops

15%

12%

8%

10%

Equine

18%

23%

21%

16%

Poultry

6%

2%

4%

4%

Swine

8%

9%

17%

8%

Exotic

5%

3%

4%

7%

It isn’t about size of the livestock operation in Michigan; it is about management. All farmers of all sizes and all species of livestock can implement small changes that make a big difference. To find a copy of the entire GAAMPS for manure management and practices that will keep you in conformance, affording you nuisance protection, visit www.michigan.gov/gaamps.

Agriculture is a key economic force in Michigan. Allowing farmers to operate while following GAAMPS keeps Michigan agriculture growing while minimizing friction with others.

Source: Roberta Osborne, Michigan State University Extension



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