The Right-To-Farm for Small and Medium-Sized Farmers: A National Legal Analysis

Grants and Contracts Details


Forty years ago, state legislatures squared up against a problem that continues to trouble agriculture today. Farms faced economic and operational constraints as a result of urban sprawl. To try to stem the tide of farmer loss, legislatures passed Preservation and Right-to-Farm laws, intended to provide additional protections for agricultural operations faced with nuisance lawsuits. Since then, amendments and constitutional propositions have changed the content of such laws, which exist in all fifty states. Still, their efficacy remains an open question, as the number of U.S. farms and acres in farmland continues to decline. Despite the central role that the law plays in agricultural markets, there exists no comprehensive study of the impacts of Right-to-Farm or Preservation laws on small and medium-sized farmers. In addition, members of our advisory board have voiced the concern that farmers largely do not know that these laws exist. Further, those small and mid-sized farmers that are aware of the statutes suspect that they reduce their economic opportunities. Yet there is no definitive research to look to for guidance, a gap our project aims to remedy. We ask, how do current Right-to-Farm laws impact the viability of America’s small and medium-sized farms? And further, what is the best statutory language to support small and medium-sized farms? Our team conjoins law, rural sociology, and agricultural economics with the dissemination power of eXtension, Farmers Legal Action Group and the National Farmers Union to complete this benchmark project. Our findings will reach scholars, farmers, policy makers and the public through a combination of peer-reviewed publications, policy briefs, workshops, and an interactive website. Our team will produce new knowledge that bolsters the sustainability of small and mid-sized farmers by pinpointing the legal language that promotes them.
Effective start/end date4/1/183/31/24


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $211,508.00


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