The nationwide push to kill off of the traditional American Family Farmer has just reared its ugly head again; this time in the State of Michigan, where state officials just voted on new rules that could push out all suburban and urban farmers.
The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted in a special session April 28 to adopt changes that make all farm livestock operations, no matter how small, subject to new farming rules – creating a category of land where no animals will be in compliance. The new rules will allow local governments to ban most farms and backyard farms.
While the State claims the new rules will make “urban” living more pleasant, the fact is most of these farms existed long before these areas in Michigan were urbanized.
Prior to this rule change, most state farmers were protected by the Right to Farm Act, an act passed in 1981 to protect farmers from city people who were moving into rural areas and then complaining about conditions typical to farming. With this new change in rules, farmers will now be subjected to local ordinances that are designed to push out the farmers and further urbanize the state’s farmlands.
But farmers aren’t the only ones who will be affected by the new changes in Michigan; many urban and suburban backyard farmers – even someone who only has one chicken – could now be regulated out of existence. Those who want to live a more sustainable lifestyle, growing their own foods and raising livestock like chickens, will now be forced to rely on the system they tried to get away from.
Kim White, a Michigan resident who raises chickens in a small backyard farm, says the new rules could force her to get rid of her animals.
“It’s all ‘Big Farm,” and it’s ‘Big Farm” deciding against the little farm,” she said after the commission vote. White said she has about 20 chickens she raises for eggs, as well as a couple of rabbits.
“They don’t want us little guys feeding ourselves. They want us to go all to the big farms,” she said. “They want to do away with small farms and that and I believe that is what’s motivating it.”
The push to kill off the small family farmer is nothing new; everyone from the federal government to state and local governments have been trying to kill off these small family farms, in favor of big multinational agriculture conglomerates, for some time now. In fact, back in 2012 Michigan actually made it a felony to raise certain types of free range pigs, forcing Michigan farmers to actually kill their pigs and putting most of the state’s free range pig farmers out of business.