Thursday, January 22, 2015
A bill has been introduced into the Michigan legislature to allow urban dwellers to keep a "reasonable" number of livestock on their property. This article refers to the bill as guaranteeing the "basic human right" to farm your lawn. Really?
As many of you are probably aware, many cities across the country are confronting the dilemma of what to about allowing "urban agriculture" (an oxymoron in my mind- perhaps "urban gardening" is more appropriate) in light of state right to farm laws. Each of the 50 states have right to farm laws, prompted by the decision by the Supreme Court of Arizona in Spur v. Del Webb, 108 Ariz. 178, 494 P.2d 700 (1972). These laws were enacted to address housing developments leapfrogging, or even slowly growing, out into rural areas and basically makes "coming to the nuisance" a true defense, in certain circumstances.
There are many health and planning reasons to bar livestock in urban areas. However, there are also many very passionate fans of keeping livestock in urban areas. I come down on the side of banning livestock in urban areas, but allowing vegetable gardens. I hope I don't receive any threats. Should I mention raw milk to evoke more emotional responses?
Right to Farm laws, already heavily criticized and having been found to be a taking of private property for private use by at least two courts (Iowa and Washington) need to be amended to exclude urban agriculture from the protections of the act. The acts were passed to address a totally different context.