RIGHT TO FARM PROGRAMWHEREAS, the Right to Farm Act (the Act) provides eligible, responsible farmers with protection from restrictive municipal ordinances, as well as public and private nuisance actions; and it provides increased protection to farmers who operate in accordance with agricultural management practices (AMPs) that have been adopted by the State Agricultural Development Committee (SADC); and
WHEREAS, the Act gives primary jurisdiction in resolving complaints against agricultural operations to county agriculture development boards (CADBs) and ultimately to the SADC if the decisions of the CADBs are appealed; and
WHEREAS, the SADC offers a voluntary Agricultural Mediation Program as an alternative to the public hearing process, that can help disputing parties quickly resolve their problems, thereby saving all parties both time and costly legal fees; and
WHEREAS, this past year, the SADC continued to pursue the development of two AMPs to address equine and agri-tourism operations; and
WHEREAS, the equine-activities rule is designed to provide right-to-farm protection not only to the equine production activities of breeding and pasturing, but also to equine service activities such as boarding and training that currently do not enjoy right-to-farm protection; and
WHEREAS, the SADC also has drafted a companion equine AMP that sets standards for equine operations seeking right-to-farm protection; and
WHEREAS, adoption of the equine activities rule and the AMP, expected in early 2007, will provide critical protections to an important and growing sector of New Jersey agriculture; and
WHEREAS, the agri-tourism AMP is intended to protect agri-tourism operations and set forth acceptable standards for such operations to shield against excessive municipal regulation of such operations; and
WHEREAS, the SADC in 2007 will reconsider and revise its draft AMP for agri-tourism based on comments received from the agricultural community and an agri-tourism survey completed by Rutgers University and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture; and
WHEREAS, the SADC plans to pursue two additional AMPs in 2007 that address farm markets and greenhouses based on work performed by Rutgers staff; and
WHEREAS, upon adoption of these AMPs, the SADC will have greatly expanded protections for the four sectors of the agricultural industry most frequently subject to right-to-farm complaints; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s Right to Farm Act is considered one of the strongest in the nation, yet many municipalities and others are unaware of the protections and procedures under the Act; and SADC staff continue to educate and inform local government entities and the public about the Right to Farm Act and advise various local officials and landowners on a regular basis; and
WHEREAS, this year, the SADC will hold its second Farmland Preservation Program Summit designed to inform the public of important changes to the Farmland Preservation Program and developments in the Right-to-Farm Program; and the SADC is also working with the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey League of Municipalities to include Right-to-Farm as part of the now mandatory training for local planning and zoning officials; and
WHEREAS, despite the important work of the Right-to-Farm Program, the Program’s $90,000 allocation in the FY2007 State budget continues to be insufficient to fund the Program.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we the delegates to the 92nd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 13, 2007, strongly support New Jersey’s Right-to-Farm Act and call upon the Legislature and the Governor to appropriate a minimum of $300,000 in the FY2008 State budget for the SADC and counties to adequately administer the Act.
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that we support the SADC’s continued development, prioritization and adoption of AMPs in conjunction with the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and Rutgers University, and in the absence of SADC adopted AMPs, the CADBs’ continued development and recommendation of site-specific agricultural practices.
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that we support the Right-to-Farm public hearing process and the SADC’s Agricultural Mediation Program as a voluntary, cost-effective alternative to the public hearing process.
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that we support the initiatives to discourage repeated harassment suits against farmers, such as development of legislation that would require complainants to pay the farmers’ legal fees in cases where the farmer is proven to be operating in compliance with all appropriate AMPs or is otherwise entitled to Right-to-Farm protection.
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the SADC to actively pursue additional funding through the USDA’s Agricultural Mediation Program.
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the SADC to continue its efforts to provide the maximum protections under the Right-to-Farm Act.
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon and urge the SADC to continue to take the necessary steps to insure that owners of deed restricted farms enjoy the same flexibility in adapting their agricultural operations to achieve economic viability as do owners of non-deed restricted farms under the Right-to-Farm Act, specifically in the areas of marketing and agri-tourism.
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the SADC to continue its education efforts with the general public and municipal and county officials with respect to the protections afforded to legitimate commercial farm operations under the Right-to-Farm Act.