what does the michigan right to farm act mean??? commercial

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by jwm5330, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. jwm5330

    jwm5330 New Egg

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    Jul 25, 2011
    our township is giving us grief about our chickens,we have 10 acres zoned low density residential. we can have horses but nothing else not normally considered a pet.
    i emailed the township guy the MRTFA and he replied we must be a commercial operation,file taxes, get a DBA etc...
    anyone have any knowledge on this?
    we live in reynolds township, howard city michigan.
    thanks
     
  2. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, its extremely simple.

    In a nutshell, a couple of rulings by the Michigan Court of Appeals and/or the Michigan Supreme Court have said that the standard is "commercial intent" -- in other words, you must be raising the crop or animal in question with the intent of selling it or some product derived from it. For poultry, this means you could sell live birds, hatching eggs, edible eggs, meat birds, or feathers.

    The Court was very liberal in its interpretation (not politically liberal, but broad) -- it said basically the intent is all that matters. You don't need to make a profit.

    What you need to do now is make it know that you are commercial. Make up a price list and some business cards. Post a "for sale" sign somewhere in your yard.

    You do NOT need to have a dba ("doing business as" or more formally, and assumed name registered with the county or more formally an incorporation or LLC with the Corporations Bureau of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth) -- MANY sole proprietors use their own name. You only need to file the appropriate tax forms IF you qualify to do so -- for farming, you would fill out a Schedule F and attach to your 1040. You may WANT to do a Schedule F -- remember, you do not need to show a profit to demonstrate "commercial intent", at least for a few years (if you lose money too many years in a row, the IRS will classify you as a hobby, not a business) -- having a Schedule F is a great way to prove "commercial intent".

    The MRTFA says that a local government CANNOT prevent a farm operation if it complies with Michigan Department of Agriculture rules called Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices -- GAAMPS for short. Those are incredibly simple to meet for chickens and other poultry -- just common sense, give them adequate room, food, water, shelter from the weather and predators, and control flies and manure, treat for diseases and cull humanely -- all just common sense stuff that most backyard folks far surpass anyway.

    Finally, you do NOT need to be a pre-existing operation. You can start up a new "farm operation" in any locality in state as long as you comply with the GAAMPS. That was the interpretation in a couple of court rulings in 2009.

    So, you need to go into business. They can't stop you.

    Wow, 10 acres, in a rural area, and they still hassle you! Amazing. They must have WAY too much time on their hands.
     
  3. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You need to read these threads carefully:


    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=408477


    First of all, these are the 2011 GAAMPS. Like I said, nothing to it -- easy to comply with the GAAMPS:

    http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mda/2011_DRAFT_ANIMAL_CARE_331745_7.pdf

    Here's the actual Michigan RTFA:

    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(1q...mcl-act-93-of-1981&queryid=8769063&highlight=
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=182280

    This is a good synopsis of the recent court rulings. Note that is written from the perspective of the "enemy" -- local planning and zoning officials, who would like to be rid of backyard poultry. Pay close attention to the "summary of recent court rulings" on the bottom of page 2 and top of page 3, and the next section "implications". They would LIKE to get the law changed, but right now, the law is what the courts say it is. If you come in now as a "commercial operation" they can't stop you. They can bluster and try, but it is the current law of the land.

    http://www.planningmi.org/downloads/rtfa_board_adopted_policy_feb_19_2010.pdf
     
  4. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Nice job Denninmi! I concur. You only have to sell or have the intent to sell to be considered commercial. A sign at the end of the road for eggs, chicks, poop, whatever. The MRFTA will protect you from any local ordinance unless said ordinance was filed with the MRTFA.

    edited to add: I really love the last link. [​IMG] Mwahaahaaaa!
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  5. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Not sure what you mean by that -- could you clarify. TIA.
     
  6. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Quote:Not sure what you mean by that -- could you clarify. TIA.

    There is a part in the act that allows townships to make stipulations to it. I'll see if I can find it.

    Here you go.

    (7) A local unit of government may submit to the director a proposed ordinance prescribing standards different from those contained in generally accepted agricultural and management practices if adverse effects on the environment or public health will exist within the local unit of government. A proposed ordinance under this subsection shall not conflict with existing state laws or federal laws. At least 45 days prior to enactment of the proposed ordinance, the local unit of government shall submit a copy of the proposed ordinance to the director. Upon receipt of the proposed ordinance, the director shall hold a public meeting in that local unit of government to review the proposed ordinance. In conducting its review, the director shall consult with the departments of environmental quality and community health and shall consider any recommendations of the county health department of the county where the adverse effects on the environment or public health will allegedly exist. Within 30 days after the public meeting, the director shall make a recommendation to the commission on whether the ordinance should be approved. An ordinance enacted under this subsection shall not be enforced by a local unit of government until approved by the commission of agriculture.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  7. bholmes

    bholmes New Egg

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    Chesterfield Township just told me that the Michigan right to farm act does not apply to me since I am zoned residential. In my reading this does not matter. I would like to raise chickens to sell eggs. But the Township is telling me NO. Has anyone fought this and won?
    thanks,
    Ben
     
  8. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Interesting question, isn't it?
     
  9. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Tempe, Arizona
    Quote:Interesting question, isn't it?

    Go back and read the links provided and the rulings. Yes, it has been successfully fought and won. Those who did not win were very clearly not in it for commercial reasons. Those who had ANY commercial endeavor have won. It's been awhile since I read the rulings, but it seems like in at least one case that was lost, they referred to their agriculture as a hobby on more than one occasion.
     
  10. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess what concerns me about this, if I'm ever put into this situation, is the fact that theory and reality don't often mesh. In theory, I have these rights under the current MRTFA, and should be allowed to keep birds if I fall within the parameters of the act. But in reality, how hard would it be to fight against "city hall" if they want to make your life miserable about it? How expensive, how time consuming, what kind of jeopardy will I but putting myself into -- potential fines or even jail?

    Not that I wouldn't LOVE to see that one on FOX 2 News -- local man going to jail for the dangerous crime of keeping geese, ducks, turkeys, and chickens in his back yard. They might have a field day with that, since they've been into calling out local governments for stupid things, like the lady in Oak Park that was threatened with 90 days in jail because she planted vegetables in her front yard.
     

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