“Right to Farm” at 2016 Town Meeting

We hope you will join us on Saturday at Town Meeting!

We strongly encourage all of our friends and supporters to take an active part in our municipality’s planning and government. Please also join us in supporting the Nantucket Agricultural Commission and the Right to Farm bylaw sponsored by Nantucket farmer and food producer, Dylan Wallace.
What is a “Right to Farm” By-law and why is it important?
1. Nantucket has always been a farming community.

In 1875 there were over 100 farms on the island! Now we have far fewer, and our existing farms face many challenges. A Right to Farm bylaw is a statement of support affirming a municipality’s commitment to keeping the traditional industry of farming alive and thriving in their community.

2. Proposing a Right to Farm bylaw is usually the first thing an agricultural commission does because it creates a channel of communication between town agencies that includes the agricultural commission. For example, if an issue came up relating to the practice of agriculture where planning and land use and/or the health department might be involved – they would not necessarily be as informed as to current best management practices in agriculture, etc – but the agricultural commission is and therefore it is useful for a representative from the commission to be present to help resolve the issue. This is part of an agricultural commission’s role and adopting the bylaw is helpful in ensuring that this role can be fulfilled.

3. The Right to Farm bylaw applies to commercial agriculture only- as defined by the state of Massachusetts. This means that to be considered a farm, an enterprise has to be making at least $5000 in profit on land over two acres.

4. The Right to Farm by law does not change any existing laws or exempt farms from existing laws. It merely reaffirms the protections for commercial agriculture that already exist in state law

5. Right to Farm By-laws are encouraged by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and by the state of Massachusetts as part of their Smart Growth / Smart Energy Toolkit for municipalities. The model for the Right to Farm by law is published by the state.

6. The notification piece of the bylaw is intended to let newcomers to the island know that this is a community that values farming as a way of life.

7. Currently there are over 140 municipalities in Massachusetts that have passed the Right to Farm bylaw.

Click HERE for the full text of the Right to Farm bylaw as amended by the Town of Nantucket’s Finance Committee.

Photo courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.