John Moody
as presented during the Home Grown Food Summit

Growing your own food should be simple, right? Well, in the modern world, few things are simple. Whether in your own backyard or a few back acres, numerous regulations, laws, boards, ordinances, and more may affect what you can and cannot do. Here are five areas for the small grower to consider.

  1. Being a good neighbor (and staying out of trouble) complaints often include
    Smells (poorly managed animals) – you need to clean up after them
    Sounds (noisy animals)
    Space (respecting property lines for both people and animals) – may mean tending fences
    Most often the complaints are made by an upset or angry neighbor or by a competitor. What you are allowed to do might not be the best for neighbor relations. Loose animals causing accidents make you liable; there may be fines or penalties; proper fencing is a good thing. Also, take reasonable steps to protect your livestock from attacks by other animals
  2. Animal abuse allegations
    There have been a significant rise in such cases across the country
    Some states are adopting laws to protect big agriculture while endangering small producers
    Some animal rights organizations are partnering with federal/state officials to enforce laws against people keeping farm animals
    Farmers and homesteaders need to go on an educational offensive regarding animal husbandry and care
    During adverse conditions, you need to be prepared to ensure your animals are well cared for
    Educate your customers and neighbors both on the farm and in social media
    Engage local officials with an invitation to your facility
    Provide them with good information that explain what traditional sustainable animal care looks like
  3. Cottage food
    Expands your ability to produce food for others from your home
    Laws are constantly changing in states yearly; keep up with the changes
    Some states allow basic goods to be produced and sold
    Some may permit fermented or pressure canned items
    All states allow sale of non-potentially hazardous foods
  4. On Farm Slaughter and meat sale issues
    Preparing food for personal consumption regulations generally fall to city or local jurisdiction
    Sales other than poultry of on farm slaughtered meats are not allowed unless you have an approved, inspected facility on your site
    Rabbit, deer, bison, quail have no federal inspection requirement, state requirements vary by state
    Some states have a two tier inspection system while others only have USDA inspected facilities
  5. If you own an animal, you may sell whole/live animals which allows the animal to go through a custom or inspected slaughter house
    Right to farm and zoning
    Rights to produce food on your own property can be a battle
    You need to understand what is required to allow you to “farm”
    Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund offers free consultation and advisement for laws in your state

Billie Nicholson, Editor
March 2016

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