Richland Township farm fights for Right to Farm Act protection

Posted at 2:55 PM, Aug 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-29 16:44:53-04

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A farm in Kalamazoo County's Richland Township is fighting for protection under the Right to Farm Act, after a judge ruled they are not protected due to a lack of Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) certification.

Ben Martin and his Uncle Jim Nieuwenhuis, owner of the 3.3-acre farmland, said their farm underwent a GAAMPs inspection on Wednesday Aug. 27. Martin told FOX 17 they felt the inspection went well, and are waiting to hear the result via mail.

As FOX 17 has reported, Nieuwenhuis’ farm is currently unprotected by the Right to Farm Act as of Judge Kropf with the 8th District Court’s ruling on Aug. 15. The ruling ordered Nieuwenhuis to remove their livestock (four goats) and hoop-house greenhouse from their property, due to Richland Township zoning ordinance violations.

Again, court documents show the farm’s cropping system has been verified under the Michigan Agriculture Environment Assurance Program (MAEAP), but it does not have its Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPS) certification. As a result, the farm is not protected under the Right to Farm Act.

Martin explained that the GAAMPs inspection is to determine whether their farm’s agricultural practices are permissible or not in the area. Martin said the inspector covered topics like odor control for manure, water utilization, and nutrient management for crop production.

“Our inspection was a proactive inspection that we scheduled,” said Martin. “We want to work with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to comply with GAAMPs and continue to be good stewards of the land.”

For now, Martin and Nieuwenhuis continue to sell their goat meat and fresh produce like tomatoes at a Richland Township food stand.