On Monday, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture approved a new set of Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) for farm markets. GAAMPs are widely accepted industry practices, and farmers who voluntarily follow them are protected from nuisance lawsuits under Michigan's Right-to-Farm Act.

"The Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) appreciates the Commission of Agriculture's work in not only approving but also initiating the development of the farm market GAAMPs. We are especially grateful of Commissioner Don Coe's leadership in championing and supporting the cause," says Ken Nye, MFB's horticulture and forestry specialist.

The need to develop GAAMPs for farm markets stemmed from a lack of uniform information on regulating farm markets in Michigan — a situation that has created challenges for farm market operators and local and state regulators alike as more Michigan farms have transitioned into direct marketing and on-site retail activity, including value-added dairy businesses.

While the definition of a "farm operation" in the Michigan Right to Farm Act includes marketing produce at roadside stands or farm markets, specific marketing activities are not defined or described. The new farm market GAAMPs were developed to provide guidance on what exactly constitutes an on-farm market and farm market activities.

"This doesn't mean certain local and state regulations are going to be pre-empted, nor does it mean farm market operators are exempt from following certain local ordinances. A GAAMP only sets a voluntary standard for compliance with accepted practices," says Nye. "What we gain from the farm market GAAMPs is education and a set of statewide standards for both farm market operators and local officials."

Under the newly approved GAAMPs, a farm market is defined as a "farm retail facility and is considered part of a farm operation." The definition spells out that at least 50 percent of the products marketed and offered for sale at the market "must be produced on and by the affiliated farm." It also states that the farm market can operate seasonally or year-round, may involve processing activities that convert raw commodities to finished products, and may include marketing activities to attract customers.

Source: Michigan Farm Bureau