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State proposes local control of backyard livestock

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An important debate over urban farming in Michigan continues today in Lansing. Officials from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and others will discuss proposed rule changes governing farm animals in developed, residential areas.

A focal point of the discussion, which is taking place at a meeting of the Michigan Agricultural Commission, is a proposal to give local communities the authority to decide for themselves where to allow farm animals.

Many of Michigan’s urban farmers have roundly criticized the revisions. They fear local governments will clamp down on backyard animal operations. State Agriculture officials respond that the new rules would not ban backyard livestock.

Jim Johnson, of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said there are real opportunities for integration livestock farming within urban settings, but it has to fit within that urban setting.

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