Urban Farming and Livestock

With farmers and municipalities across the country embracing urban farming as a potential solution to immediate budget crises, local residents have become more receptive to living near large-scale city farms. However, some draw the line at neighbors raising livestock.

Urban farming has a long history in the United States. During various depressions and recessions in the 19th century, cities and municipalities would plant crops in vacant fields, hoping to boost local incomes, increase food supplies, and increase self-sufficiency. During both World Wars, local cities planted Victory Gardens to combat wartime shortages and to increase morale.

In recent years, urban farming has again cropped up as a potential solution to economic distress. Local farmers see urban production as offering much needed employment to depressed urban centers and as a major boost to municipal incomes. Major cities across the country (from New York, to Detroit, to San Francisco) have embraced this movement, rewriting local ordinances to allow the production and sale of locally grown produce.

However, as the movement takes off, some cities are considering expanding urban production to include livestock. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the city’s Urban Agriculture Task Force is considering changing city ordinances to allow residents to raise chickens within city limits.

Supporters say that this will boost incomes and help further the urban farming movement. Opponents argue that chickens are a nuisance and raising livestock within city limits could hurt home values. Several residents, for example, have citied difficulty selling homes in neighborhoods where chickens are raised.

Current regulations allow raising chickens if they do not constitute a nuisance, a vague definition that supporters and opponents of urban farming are hoping to clarify.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer