Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) defended a Michigan farm called Hidden Creek Farm in a nuisance action, which ultimately led to a positive clarification in the state’s Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs).
Hidden Creek Farm is a small sustainable farm that has been operating for several years in Dalton County, Michigan. A nuisance action was filed in court after the Farm offered a special one-day sale event for customers.
The Michigan Right to Farm Act should have resolved the matter, but the case was unfortunately heard by a judge who chose to disregard the expertise of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). The Right to Farm Act provides legal protection to farms operating pursuant to GAAMPs. The judge’s interpretation of the relevant GAAMPs contradicted MDARD.
On April 9, 2020, the State Court of Michigan granted a Motion for Summary Disposition against Hidden Creek Farm. The Court found, contrary to MDARD, that the applicable GAAMP required that there be 250 feet between the farms’ property line and neighboring homes, rather than 250 feet from the livestock facility. After lengthy and expensive discovery, hearings for injunctions, and briefings in this case, the court specifically chose to not adhere to MDARD’s interpretation of the relevant GAMMP. This meant that the court then did not respect the Michigan Right to Farm law. This court decision would have impacted small farms throughout Michigan.
The MDARD site selection GAAMP committee has changed the rule to make it crystal clear that a livestock facility must be 250 feet from a neighboring home, not that there be 250 feet between the farm property line and a neighboring home. This change will positively impact small farms across the state of Michigan. The litigation involving Hidden Creek Farm has been resolved.
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and policy work also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts and social media outreach.