Right to Farm Act

Asked September 20, 2013, 11:18 AM EDT

Is a wind generated turbine (50KW) that produces electricity on a 500 acre farm protected under the Right to Farm Act and exempt from Township Zoning and Ordinance?

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response

Normally to be considered for RTFA protection it should be food, feed fiber or fur production. Another component of RTFA states that local governments cannot regulate what is covered in GAAMPS. There are no GAAMPS covering farm energy generation. Given this, a wind turbine should be able to be regulated under local zoning ordinance.

However, the definition of farm operation in the RTFA includes "The operation of machinery and equipment necessary for a farm including, but not limited to, irrigation and drainage systems and pumps and on-farm grain dryers, and the movement of vehicles, machinery, equipment, and farm products and associated inputs necessary for farm operations on the roadway as authorized by the Michigan vehicle code, Act No. 300 of the Public Acts of 1949, being sections 257.1 to 257.923 of the Michigan Compiled Laws." A case may be made for the turbine to fall under this category.

In order for a party to successfully assert the RTFA as a defense, that party must prove the following two elements: (1) that the challenged condition or activity constitutes a “farm” or “farm operation” and (2) that the farm or farm operation conforms to the relevant GAAMPs.