Elbert County, Colorado, adopts Right to Farm law | TheFencePost.com

Elbert County, Colorado, adopts Right to Farm law

Rachel Gabel
for The Fence Post

Bill Harris, front, has been a longtime champion for a Right to Farm proclamation in Elbert County. He saw that come to fruition last week as the commissioners voted unanimously to pass the language. Harris, with his wife, Nancy behind him, is flanked by members of both the Elbert and Douglas County Farm Bureaus.

Right to Farm laws are on the books in all 50 states. In Colorado, Elbert County is the latest addition to the list of Colorado counties with the proclamation on the books.

Past Elbert County Farm Bureau President Bill Harris has been a longtime champion of the designation and after many years of impressing upon the commissioners the importance of its passage, Harris saw the commissioners pass the policy unanimously last week.

Current Elbert County Farm Bureau President Justin Klassen testified before the board of commissioners with the support of the Elbert County and Douglas County Farm Bureaus.

According to statute, the policy is meant to protect, conserve and encourage the development and improvement of its agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products. It protects agricultural operations that employ common methods and practices from being found a nuisance even in the event of a change of ownership, interruption of farming, employment of new technologies or a change in products produced.

Right to Farm proclamations have been noted in recent cases in Colorado in which agricultural producers were sued and cited as a nuisance to neighbors.

TIPPING THE SCALES

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In 2017, the High Country News reported that a judge ruled in favor of a western slope chicken producer, Edwin Hostetler who was sued by his neighbor. The neighbor, veterinarian Susan Raymond, claimed her "health, her veterinary business, and the value of her property had all suffered as a result of Hostetler's" 15,000-hen facility. According to the report, the Right to Farm proclamation "tipped the scales" in Hostetler's favor.

Taylor Lobato, director of policy communications for the Colorado Farm Bureau, said Elbert County is interested in conserving and honoring its agricultural roots, which prompted the vote.

"The proclamation states that they believe that there's a right to farm and it's in line with Elbert County's Strategic Plan celebrating the heritage and the history of the county," she said. "Elbert County is about 80 percent rural and agriculture related. They wanted some language and some recognition of that."

Signs will be posted at the main entrances to the county touting the Right to Farm designation and the county's dedication to agriculture. Elbert County Farm Bureau is working together with Elbert County to defray expenses for the signs. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She lives on a farm near Wiggins, Colo., where she and her family raise cattle and show goats.