Right to Farm By-Law

Section 1. Legislative Purpose & Intent

The purpose and intent of this By law is to state with emphasis 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 1; Chapter 90, Section 9, Chapter 111, Section 125A and Chapter 128 Section 1A. We the citizens of Rutland restate and republish these rights pursuant to the Town's authority conferred by Article 89 of the Articles of Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution, ("Home Rule Amendment").

This General law encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of Rutland by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and local agencies. This By-Law shall apply to all jurisdictional areas within the Town.

Section 2. Definitions

The word "farm" shall include any parcel or contiguous parcels of land, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of agriculture, or accessory thereto.

The words "farming" or "agriculture" or their derivatives shall include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil;
  • Dairying;
  • Production, cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural, or horticultural commodities;
  • Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, and any other forestry of lumbering operations;
  • Raising of livestock including horses;
  • Keeping of horses; and
  • Keeping and raising of poultry, swine, cattle, sheep, goats, ratites (such as emus, ostriches and rheas) and camelids (such as llamas and camels), and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals.

"Farming" shall encompass activities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads within the Town;
  • Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators, and disease organisms of plants and animals;
  • Application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides;
  • Conducting agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities, including agri-tourism, provided that the activities are related to the agricultural output or services of the farm;
  • Processing, slaughtering and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operation of a farmers' market or farm stand including signage thereto;
  • Maintenance, repair, or storage or seasonal equipment, or apparatus owned or leased by the farm owner or manager used expressly for the purpose of propagation, processing, management, or sale of the agricultural products; and
  • On -farm relocation of earth and the clearing of ground for farming operations.

Section 3. Right to Farm Declaration

The Right to Farm is hereby recognized to exist with the Town of Rutland. The above-described agricultural activities may occur on holidays, weekdays, and weekends by night or day and shall include the attendant incidental noise, odors, dust, and fumes associated with normally accepted agricultural practices. It is hereby determined that whatever impact may be caused to others through the normal practice of agriculture is more than offset by the benefits of farming to the neighborhood, community, and society in general. The benefits and protections of this By-law are intended to apply exclusively to those agricultural and farming operations and activities conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices. Moreover, nothing in this Right to Farm By-law 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.

Section 4. Precedence

In the event of a conflict between this By-law and all other town regulations, this By-law shall take precedence. In the event of a conflict between this By-law and federal or state law, federal or state law shall take precedence respectfully.

Section 5. Resolution of Disputes

Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Zoning Enforcement Officer, or the Board of Health, depending upon the nature of the grievance. The filing of a grievance does not suspend the time within which to pursue any other available remedies that the aggrieved person may have. The Zoning Enforcement Officer shall forward a copy of the grievance to the Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall review and facilitate the resolution of the grievance, and report its recommendations to the referring Town authority within an agreed-upon time frame.

Section 6. Severability Clause

If any part of this By-law is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the remainder of this By-law. The Town of Rutland hereby declares the provisions of this By-law to be severable.