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E-M:/ right to farm ruling

Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>

My posting of this does not indicate an endorsement of the judge's reasoning.

Contact:  Denise Yockey
Marketing & Communications Div., (517) 373-1104
April 1, 1999

State Agriculture Director Heralds Court Decision
as Important Victory for Farming in Michigan

Michigan Department of Agriculture Director (MDA) Dan Wyant today applauded
the ruling of Gratiot County Circuit Court Judge Randy L. Tahvonen as a
victory for the future of farming in the state.  Judge Tahvonen upheld the
constitutionality of Michigan's right-to-farm law in his anlaysis of a
nuisance lawsuit brought by neighbors of the Stoneman cattle farm, located
in rural Gratiot County.

"Judge Tahvonen's ruling is a strong affirmation of Michigan's
right-to-farm law and complaint response program," said Wyant, who had
testified on behalf of the farm.  "Michigan's 10-year-old right-to-farm
law, which is one of the strongest in the US, is an effective tool to
resolve conflict between farmers and their nonfarm neighbors.  Our
right-to-farm law says farmers are entitled to raise livestock and work
their land, despite changing circumstances and neighbors, as long as they
adhere to generally-accepted farm management practices."

"The right-to-farm complaint response program has taken in over 1,300
complaints against farmers during the last 10 years, and has been able to
resolve virtually all of them by working with the complainant and the
farmer," Wyant said.  "Less than 1 percent have required the involvement of
another state agency, and fewer still have gone on to court."

In his brief, Judge Tahvonen wrote:  "The Stonemans' decision to
consolidate and expand is financially prudent, financially sound, and
environmentally practical.  The court finds that the plaintiffs have failed
to provide, by a preponderance of evidence, the operations of Stoneman
Cattle, Inc.'s facility constitutes a nuisance."

Michigan Farm Bureau President Jack Laurie was pleased that the ruling
affirms the good practices of the Stoneman family.  "Stonemans operate a
very typical family farm--multiple members of the family and multiple
generations," Laurie said.  "The Stonemans have an undeniable record of
utilizing best management practices and their operation is truly
environmentally friendly."

All 50 states have right-to-farm laws that protect farmers from nuisance
lawsuits and protect nonfarm neighbors from poor agricultural practices.
The laws have been particularly tested as more people move to country
settings and farmland is developed into housing.  The Michigan law is
administered primarily by MDA and the Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality, with
assistance from many local partners including soil conservation districts,
the Natural Resource Conservation Service and MSU Extension.

"Most Michigan farmers work hard to be good neighbors, and are committed to
responsible, environmentally-sound agriculture," Wyant said.  "With Judge
Tahvonen's affirmation, we believe the right-to-farm law is the still the
best tool to resolve conflict between farmers and their nonfarm neighbors
as Michigan moves into the 21st century."

The Michigan Department of Agriculture is the official state agency charged
with serving, promoting and protecting food, agriculture and economic
interests of the people of the State of Michigan.  MDA programs serve all
sectors of agriculture, which is Michigan's second-largest industry.


(This news release can also be viewed on the World Wide Web at

Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912

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