Lyon County emphasizes the right to farm

With a nod toward Lyon County's agricultural heritage, the commissioners reinforced the farmer's right to do business.

A revamped version of the county's right-to-farm ordinance was approved at a public hearing during the commission's meeting Thursday.

The new version strengthened the wording from the previous ordinance, asserting that when nonagricultural land uses come into conflict with agricultural uses, such as residential development or purveying of water rights for environmental purposes, nuisance complaints cannot be brought against agricultural operations.

The right-to-farm includes raising crops, fowl or livestock, using fertilizer or pesticides, including aerial spraying, the hiring and housing of farm labor and the use of machinery or farm equipment to process and pack agricultural products. Farms are also allowed to operate 24 hours a day.

The ordinance limits dramatically where agricultural operations may be declared a nuisance, though it does allow a process for appeal for residents who live near farms and ranches. Residents can send a written request to the commission for an opinion on whether the particular agricultural operation complies with this ordinance.

The ordinance does not specify any size of operation, and Commissioner LeRoy Goodman said that although he supported the measure, he cautioned that the future may hold that, for example, a two-acre lot that grew alfalfa for years may later, after residents move nearby, change to raise pigs.

Both agricultural uses are permitted by the ordinance, he said, but the possibility of complaints was much stronger with the pigs as with the alfalfa.

The ordinance also requires sellers of property to disclose to potential buyers that the area is agricultural and advise them of the right-to-farm ordinance.

The ordinance stipulates that whatever nuisance by smell, noise or vehicle activity that may occur is more than offset by the benefits from farming to the local and state economy, community aesthetics and to society by providing open space and providing continued economic growth by the preservation and continuance of farming operations.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.


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