[HISTORY: Adopted as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Right to Farm
[Adopted 4-27-2009 ATM, Art. 25]
The purpose and intent of this bylaw is to reaffirm the Right to Farm accorded to all citizens of the commonwealth under Article 97, of the Constitution, and all state statutes and regulations thereunder, including but not limited to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40A, Section 3, Paragraph I; Chapter 90, Section 9, Chapter 111, Section 125A; and Chapter 128, Section 1A. We, the citizens of Deerfield, restate and republish this right pursuant to the Town's authority conferred by Article 89 of the Articles of Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution ("Home Rule Amendment").
This general bylaw encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects and conserves farmlands within the Town of Deerfield by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and local agencies. This bylaw shall apply to all jurisdictional areas within the Town of Deerfield.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE
- Shall include aquaculture, silviculture, horticulture, floriculture or viticulture conducted as the primary use on a parcel of five acres or more in area not zoned for agriculture, aquaculture, silviculture, horticulture, floriculture or viticulture. For such purposes, land divided by a public or private way or a waterway shall be construed as one parcel.
- Shall include any parcel or contiguous parcels of land or water bodies used for the primary purpose of commercial agriculture, or accessory thereto. The operator of a farm must be able to demonstrate commercial intent, such as with a farm business plan, Schedule FIRS form, sales tax I.D. number, or other means. Farming or agriculture, or their derivatives, shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
- A. Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil;
- B. Dairying;
- C. Production, cultivation, growing and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural, or horticultural commodities;
- D. Growing and harvesting of Christmas trees;
- E. Cultivation of sugar maple trees for the production of maple products;
- F. Growing and harvesting of forest products and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
- G. Raising of livestock, including horses;
- H. Keeping horses as a commercial enterprise;
- I. Keeping and raising poultry, cattle, sheep, rabbits, ratites, camelids and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including fiber- and fur-bearing animals;
- J. Keeping of honey bees.
- Shall encompass activities including, but not limited to, the following:
- A. On-farm relocation of earth and the clearing of ground for farming operations;
- B. Construction and use of farm structures and fences;
- C. Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over Town roads within the Town;
- D. Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators, and disease organisms of plants and animals;
- E. Application of manure, fertilizers, and pesticides;
- F. Conducting agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities, including agri-tourism, provided that activities are related to marketing the agricultural output of the farm;
- G. Maintenance, repair, or storage of seasonal equipment, or apparatus owned or leased by the farm owner or manager, used for the purpose of propagation, processing, management or sale of agricultural products;
- H. Processing and packaging the agricultural output of the farm;
- I. Operation of a farmer's market or farm stand, including signage thereto;
- J. Composting of loam or mulch, provided that at least 1/2 of the composted loam produced in any calendar year shall be used on the farm, or, in the alternative, 1/2 of the composted loam produced in any calendar year shall be composed of materials originating on the farm.
The right to farm by all its citizens is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of Deerfield. Agricultural activities may occur on holidays, weekdays and weekends by day and night, at anytime when necessary, and shall include the attendant incidental noise, odors, dust and fumes associated with normal generally acceptable agricultural practices. The benefits and protections of this bylaw are intended to apply exclusively to those commercial agricultural and farming operations and activities conducted in accordance with normal, generally accepted agricultural practices. Nothing in this Right to Farm Bylaw shall be deemed as acquiring any interest in land, or as imposing any land use regulation, which is properly the subject of state statute, regulation or local zoning law.
In order to ensure that prospective owners and prospective tenants are aware of the policy of the Town of Deerfield expressed in this bylaw regarding agricultural uses, the following notification of this policy shall be prominently posted in the Deerfield Town Hall within 30 days of this bylaw becoming effective. In addition, the notification language required by this section shall appear each year in the Town's Annual Report. Copies of this bylaw will be made available for discussion.
Therefore, it is the policy of this community to conserve, protect and encourage the maintenance and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products, and for its natural and ecological value. This disclosure notification is to inform buyers or occupants that the property they are about to acquire or occupy lies within a community where farming activities occur and are encouraged. Such farming activities may include, but are not limited to, activities that cause noise, dust and odors. Buyers and occupants are informed that any property located within the Town of Deerfield may be impacted by commercial agricultural and farming activities.
Property owners should make efforts to inform prospective tenants and buyers that Deerfield is a Right to Farm Community. Notice shall be provided by the Town to all landowners by mail once each fiscal year with the tax bill that Deerfield is a Right to Farm Community and that there is a Right to Farm Bylaw in effect.
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of any farm may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Select Board or with the Board of Health under M.G.L. Chapter 111. The filing of the grievance does not suspend the time within which to pursue any other remedies that the aggrieved person may have. The Board of Selectman may forward a copy of the grievance to the Deerfield Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall review the grievance and report its recommendations to the Board of Selectmen within 60 days. The Board of Health, except in cases of imminent danger or public health risk, may forward a copy of the grievance to the Deerfield Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall review the grievance and report its recommendations to the Board of Health within 60 days.
If any part of this bylaw is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the remainder of this bylaw. The Town of Deerfield hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.