"A Right To Farm and Ranch Policy"
Prepared for: The Board
of Larimer County Commissioners
By: Community Information
Manager Deni La Rue, August, 1998
Approved By: Agricultural
Advisory Board - Right To Farm & Ranch Executive Committee
In July 1998 the Agricultural Advisory Board, a county-appointed
citizen volunteer groups, created and adopted a Right To Farm
and Ranch Resolution/policy for Larimer County. The Board of County
Commissioners (BOCC) considers adoption of this resolution on
September 2, 1998. The Agricultural Advisory Board (AAB) would
like the BOCC to determine that it is desirable and beneficial
to the citizens of Larimer County to establish and adopt by resolution
a Right to Farm and Ranch Policy involving the elements of protection
of agricultural operations; education of property owners and visitors;
and resolution of disputes. The AAB believes such a policy would
serve and promote the public health, safety, and welfare of the
citizens of Larimer County.
Reasons Behind Resolution:
Larimer County is changing. Population increases affect many things
including development in areas that have remained rural for decades.
When non-agricultural residents move into traditionally agricultural
areas conflict can occur. Larimer County has a viable economic
and cultural agricultural history. When agricultural operators
ad residents, non-agricultural residents, and visitors collide
the economic viability of agricultural operations may become threatened.
Examples of Conflicts Include:
- harassment of livestock
- free roaming dogs threatening livestock
- trespass by humans & livestock
- livestock on roadways
- gates left open
- fence construction and maintenance
- maintenance of ditches across private property
- storm water management
- burning of ditches
- complaints about noise, dust and odor
- disposal of dead animals
- weeds, pest control, and chemical applications
In developing the Right to Farm and Ranch Policy (RTFR), the
Agricultural Advisory Board:
- Believes it is important to protect agricultural operators
from complaints concerning operations that are legal and responsible.
- Believes it is important to educate the public and non-agricultural
residents and visitors to Larimer County about the existence,
validity, and importance of the County's agricultural operations
- Believes it is important that the Board of County Commissioners
(BOCC) provides a forum for the informal and non- binding resolution
of disputes between agricultural operators and non-agricultural
residents and visitors to Larimer County.
Upon adoption of the RTFR Policy, the Agricultural Advisory
is asking the BOCC to attempt to:
- Conserve, enhance, and encourage ranching, farming, and all
manner of agricultural activities and operations within and throughout
Larimer County where appropriate.
- To minimize potential conflicts between agricultural and nonagricultural
users of land in the County.
- To educate new rural residents and long-time agricultural
operators alike to their rights, responsibilities, and obligations
relating to agricultural activities.
- To integrate planning efforts to provide for the retention
of traditional and important agricultural lands in agricultural
production as well as the opportunity for reasonable residential
and other development.
Upon Adoption of the RTFR policy the BOCC agrees that:
- It is the policy of the Board of County Commissioners of Larimer
County that ranching, farming, and all manner of agricultural
activities and operations within and throughout Larimer County
are integral elements of and necessary for the continued vitality
of the County's history, economy, landscape, open space, lifestyle,
- Given their importance to Larimer County, Northern Colorado,
and the State, agricultural lands and operations are worthy of
recognition and protection.
- Because, by law, Colorado is a "Right-to-Farm" State,
residents and visitors must be prepared to accept the activities,
sights, sounds, and smells of Larimer County's agricultural operations
as a normal and necessary aspect of living in a County with a
strong rural character and a healthy agricultural sector.
- People with urban expectations may perceive agricultural activities,
sights, sounds, and smells as inconvenient, an eyesore, or unpleasant,
however, State law and County policy provide that ranching, farming,
or other agricultural activities and operations within Larimer
County shall not be considered to be nuisances so long as operated
in conformance with the law and in a non-negligent manner.
- Residents and visitors must be prepared to encounter noises,
odors, lights, mud, dust, smoke, chemicals, machinery and livestock
on public roads, storage and disposal of manure, and the application
of chemical fertilizers, soil amendments, herbicides, and pesticides,
by spraying and other mechanisms.
- All landowners, whether agricultural business, farm, ranch
or residence, have obligations under State law and County regulation.
For example they must maintain fences and adhere to open range
laws which say livestock must be fenced out.
- Irrigators have the right to maintain irrigation ditches through
established easements that transports water for their use. Irrigation
ditches are not to be used for the dumping of refuse.
- Landowners are responsible for controlling weeds, keeping
pets under control, using property in accordance with zoning,
maintaining the environmental resources of the property wisely.
- Residents and visitors are encouraged to learn about these
rights and responsibilities and act as good neighbors and citizens
of Larimer County.
- The Board of County Commissioners shall establish a dispute
resolution procedure with mediators to informally resolve conflicts
that may arise between landowners or residents relating to agricultural
operations or activities. When rural residents cannot come to
an agreement or understanding about fences, ditches, livestock,
or other agricultural issues, this may be the forum used to resolve
disputes. Mediators must be knowledgeable, solution oriented,
and at least one such mediator in each dispute must be directly
involved in agriculture or an agricultural producer must serve
in an advisory role to the trained mediator.
The Board, with the primary assistance of the Colorado State University
Cooperative Extension Larimer County Office and through the use
of County Staff as needed, shall support efforts to educate and
inform the public of the Right to Farm and Ranch Policy by developing
a public education and information campaign. Children and adults
are exposed to different hazards in rural areas than they are
in urban or suburban setting. Those hazards may come from farm
equipment, ponds and irrigation ditches, electrical power for
pumps/center pivot operations and electrical fences, traffic,
use of agricultural chemicals, weeds such as sand burs and puncture
vines that cause mechanical injury, territorial farm dogs, and
livestock. Controlling children's activities is important, not
only for their safety, but also for the protection of the farmer's
livelihood. Open irrigation waters are essential to agriculture
and have legal rights of ways that must not be obstructed. Open
ditch operations often result in seepage and spills of storm waters
in unpredictable locations and times.
The BOCC also agrees to:
- Notify land owners in unincorporated portions of Larimer County
about the RTFR policy by distributing the RTFR policy and executive
summary in all possible manners that the budget allows.
- Provide landowner education material when a building permit
is issued for new construction in unincorporated areas of the
- Initiate amendments to the County subdivision regulations
to provide that notification of the RTFR policy and executive
summary shall be made at the time of any subdivision or related
land use approval and a note to that effect shall appear on any
Plat outside municipalities' growth areas.
- Encourage title companies and real estate brokers countywide
to voluntarily disclose the RTFR policy and/or executive summary
to purchasers of real property in the County. The BOCC will also
schedule presentations to the Board of Realtors and other professional
organizations to explain the RTFR policy and distribute copies
of the policy.
- Utilize existing, and develop needed, intergovernmental agreements
with the cities, towns and other governmental agencies in the
county to assure the effectiveness of this resolution throughout