Local farming activist Patricia Curry and Jojo Milano of Goodness Gracious Acres got wind recently of a proposed law that could make farming locally all but go away. Both women sprang into action. Milano blasted her concerns over the web. Curry contacted Palm Beach County's zoning department and got a copy of the proposed ordinance.
The proposals, they learned, include new regulations that would restrict the placement of farm-related structures, ban the breeding or selling livestock, and require new licensing for farm animals.
Monica Cantor, the planning department's senior site planner, explained that the new regulations were proposed due to complaints about noisy roosters at Jupiter Farms. "I asked her if there were a lot of complaints or just a few, and she said just a few," Cantor says. "So they went from a few complaints about roosters to drafting this horrible ordinance covering all livestock."
The regulations could have devastating effects on small farms. Milano says she turned to dairying, which started as a hobby, after her design business was hit hard from the decline in the economy. At the moment, she is just avoiding foreclosure and might not survive the new rules. "If they adopt any of this, I'm screwed," she says. "I can't make milk without breeding. Selling kids
is a byproduct of it. I can't imagine Animal Care and Control monitoring my actions. What do they know about livestock?"
Milano is not alone in her current struggle to stay afloat. Many families in rural Palm Beach County supplement or live off the income earned from farming. When she bought the property, Milano's shed and barn were already placed 15 feet from the property line. The new ordinance would force her to move them both another ten feet. Furthermore, these structures would be allowed only behind the house. No front or side yards. Milano asks, "What really does another ten feet achieve? And nothing on the front and side of the property? Depending on where the house sits, the side might be the only place to put a barn or shed. These are small acreages."
The proposed ordinance will go before Palm Beach County's Land Development Regulation Advisory Board and Land Development Regulation Commission during a meeting this Wednesday at 2300 N. Jog Road in West Palm Beach. It starts at 2 p.m., and both Curry and Milano are hoping that local foodies and concerned citizens will show up.