Tennessee Right to Farm Law

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by Fluffnpuff, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. Fluffnpuff

    Fluffnpuff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Does anyone know whether Tennessee's right to farm law, and it's recent changes, would apply to what I would call a hobby farm.

    For reference this is the language


    43-26-102. Definitions As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
    (1) “Farm” means the land, buildings, and machinery used in the commercial production of farm products and nursery stock as defined in § 70-8-303; (2) “Farm operation” means a condition or activity that occurs on a farm in connection with the commercial production of farm products or nursery stock as defined in § 70-8- 303, and includes, but is not limited to: marketed produce at roadside stands or farm markets; noise; odors; dust; fumes; operation of machinery and irrigation pumps; ground and aerial seeding and spraying; the application of chemical fertilizers, conditioners, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides; and the employment and use of labor; and (3) “Farm product” means those plants and animals useful to man and includes, but is not limited to, forages and sod crops; grains and feed crops; dairy and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including breeding and grazing; fruits; vegetables; flowers; seeds; grasses; trees; fish; apiaries; equine and other similar products; or any other product that incorporates the use of food, feed, fiber or fur.
    § 43-26-103. Nuisance
    (a) It is a rebuttable presumption that a farm or farm operation, except a new type of farming operation as described in subsection (b), is not a public or private nuisance. The presumption created by this subsection (a) may be overcome only if the person claiming a public or private nuisance establishes by preponderance of the evidence that either:
    (1) The farm operation, based on expert testimony, does not conform to generally accepted agricultural practices; or (2) The farm or farm operation alleged to cause the nuisance does not comply with any applicable statute or regulation, including without limitation statutes and regulations administered by the department of agriculture or the department of environment and conservation.
    (b) With regard to the initiation of a new type of farming operation, there is a rebuttable presumption that the new type of farm operation is not a public or private nuisance, if the new type of farming operation exists for one (1) year or more on the land that is the subject of an action for nuisance before the action is initiated. The presumption created by this subsection
    (b) may be overcome only if the person claiming a public or private nuisance establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that either:
    (1) The new type of farm operation, based on expert testimony, does not conform to generally accepted agricultural practices; or (2) The new type of farm operation alleged to cause the nuisance does not comply with any applicable statute or regulation, including without limitation statutes and regulations administered by the department of agriculture or the department of environment and conservation.
    (c) As used in this section, “new type of farming operation” means a farm operation that is materially different in character and nature from previous farming operations and that is initiated subsequent to the date that the person alleging nuisance became the owner or lessee of the land, the use or enjoyment of which is alleged to be affected by the farming operation; “new type of farming operation” does not include the expansion or addition of facilities for a type of farming operation that existed on the land that is the subject of an action for nuisance prior to the date that the person alleging nuisance became the owner or lessee of the land, the use or enjoyment of which is alleged to be affected by the farming operation.
    (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the ability of the trier of fact to determine whether a particular farming activity is either a new type of farming operation as defined in this section, or is an expansion of or addition to an existing type of farming operation.


    It was recently amended by a right to farm act that was in response to a supreme court ruling that concerts/festivals held on farms wasn't protected. The bill expands the definition of “agriculture” under current law to include entertainment activities conducted in conjunction with, but secondary to, commercial production of farm products and nursery stock.


    Here's my situation. I have what I consider to be a small hobby farm. My flock of chickens fluctuate between 20-40 depending on what time of year it is. I also keep a few turkeys to butcher on holidays. As far as crops I generally grow the following amounts per summer to give a sense of scale:
    100-150 squash, winter, and pumpkins
    100 winter radishes
    An assortment of greens including kale, collards, mustard, and bok choy
    I grow enough corn to supply 3 people with meal and grits all year round. I haven't bothered to count the exact number of ears. I also grow legumes but as with the corn I've never bothered to count how many pounds of cowpeas, peas, and beans I get per year.


    I live in a rural county outside city limits. Thankfully there has never been an issue with county ordnances or upset neighbors. There are several farms around me with one just across the road however subdivisions are slowly creeping out from the city and I figure it's only a matter of time before something comes up. There has been a big influx of city folk retirees from out of state buying property next to farms which is bound to cause problems sooner or later.

    Would my hobby farm have any legal protections? The language of several right to farm laws seem to depend on the word "commercial" which probably wouldn't apply to me since I don't sell any of the produce or meat. It's just for my families personal consumption.

    I've noticed several local farms posting less abrasive variations of the "Notice this property is a farm.." signs. One of my elderly neighbors recently passed away and his widow is going to put to the property up for sale as she can't maintain the acreage. Would it be a good idea to post a sign identifying the property as a farm to pre-emptively inform future buyers?

    I realize it's somewhat silly to think of my hobbies as "farming" in the modern sense. I don't have a thousand acre corn field or a factory farm with 30,000 pigs, but I do engage in agriculture on a very small level and it would be nice if any of the right to farm language would help me in the future should something come up.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I’m not a lawyer but that word “commercial” worries me. I would probably call your county extension agent and talk to them about it. That’s the kind of thing they should be up on or at least know who to contact to get good information.
     

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