Last year, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture changed the siting Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) to provide for a more clear distinction of local control for urban/suburban settings. That created a lot of concern in the “urban farming” community and because of that Sen. Joe Hune asked the Michigan Department of Agriculture to pull together a stakeholder work group to come up with recommendations that could be either changed within the department or acted on by the legislature. That workgroup was pulled together and began meeting in September of last year. The workgroup has concluded and has released its recommendations document. There were 5 recommendations:
- The ULW (Urban Livestock Workgroup) recommends the development of an Urban Agriculture Act to address, stimulate, and support local efforts and interest in raising livestock in urban/suburban areas.
- The ULW acknowledges the interconnection of raising livestock and plants. The ULW recommends that the Urban Agriculture Act require the development of guidelines for urban/suburban agriculture.
- The ULW recommends that the Urban Agriculture Act give authority to develop, and approve guidelines for urban/suburban agriculture to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development.
- Through the appointment of a group with diverse representation of race, gender, age, and geographic location across Michigan and at least one member from each of: local government, state government, academia and urban/suburban producers to develop, review, and recommend guidelines.
- The guidelines would be approved on annual basis for the first five years and at least on a biennial basis in the years that follow.
- And the Commission is also empowered to review and approve guidelines on an “as needed” basis.
- The ULW recommends that the Urban Agriculture Act provide for local zoning authority over agriculture in urban/suburban areas.
- The majority of the ULW recommends that the bill to establish the Urban Agriculture Act be introduced during the 2015/2016 Legislative session.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture, MSU Extension, and city of Muskegon will be presenting on this topic during the League’s Capital Conference session so be sure to attend to learn more.
Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-908-0305.