Chicago Releases New Urban Agriculture Rules

Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council revealed new rules and regulations governing urban agriculture within city limits. Current municipal regulations barely address urban agriculture, a practice that has grown in popularity across the country in recent years.

The new regulations would regulate the maximum size of urban farming operations and would allow commercial and for-profit urban farming in city limits. The proposed regulations would also allow for urban beekeeping as well as hydroponic and aquaponic systems in the city.

Emanuel’s latest proposals reflect his long-term commitment to farmers and agriculture. During the 2011 mayoral elections, Emanuel represented himself as pro-agriculture and claimed that the new regulations would increase food access in the city.

“I am committed to adopting innovative solutions that will increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables while creating jobs in order to ensure Chicagoans have the food options they need to lead a healthy lifestyle,” Emanuel said at a press conference.

Opponents of the new regulations claim that the proposed regulations leave too much up to interpretation. For example, the ordinances do not address composting and leave fencing regulations up to interpretation. In addition, some have criticized the ordinance’s ban on commercial urban farming in residential areas (which many urban farming advocates say contain 90 percent of potential urban farming land in Chicago).

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer