To qualify for the protections of the Right to Farm Act, a farm must meet the following eligibility criteria:
The farm must qualify as a commercial farm. This means an operation larger than five acres must annually engage in agricultural or horticultural production worth at least $2,500 and be eligible for differential property taxation under Farmland Assessment. For farms smaller than five acres, the annual production requirement is a minimum of $50,000 and the farm must satisfy eligibility requirements for farmland assessment, other than the farm-size requirement. A commercial farm can also be a beekeeping operation that produces apiary-related products or provides crop pollination services worth at least $10,000 annually. A commercial farm may comprise multiple parcels, whether contiguous or non-contiguous, provided they are operated together as a single enterprise. This is the farm’s “farm management unit."
The farm (as of December 31, 1997 or therafter) must be located in an area in which agriculture is a permitted use under the municipal zoning ordiance and is consistent with the municipal master plan. If the commercial farm was in operation on the effective date of the 1998 amendments to the Right to Farm Act (July 2, 1998), however, this zoning ordinance/master plan requirement does not need to be met.
The farmer must conduct his or her operation, or a specific agricultural activity at issue, in compliance with the standards contained in agricultural management practices that have been promulgated by the SADC, or with generally accepted agricultural practices.
The operation must be in compliance with relevant state and federal statutes and rules.
The operation must not pose a direct threat to public health and safety.
Under the Right to Farm Act, commercial farms that meet the eligibility requirements may be entitled to receive Right to Farm Act protections for the following activities:
--Produce agricultural and horticultural crops, trees and forest products, livestock, poultry and other commodities as described in the Standard Industrial Classification or North American Industry Classification System for agriculture, forestry, fishing and trapping
--Process and package the agricultural output of the commercial farm
--Provide for the operation of a farm market, including the construction of building and parking areas in conformance with municipal standards
--Replenish soil nutrients and improve soil tilth
--Control pests, predators and diseases of plants and animals
--Clear woodlands using open burning and other techniques, install and maintain vegetative and terrain alterations and other physical facilities for water and soil conservation and surface water control in wetland areas
--Conduct on-site disposal of organic agricultural wastes
--Conduct agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities provided that the activities are related to marketing the agricultural or horticultural output of the commercial farm
--Engage in the generation of power or heat from biomass, solar or wind energy within certain limits
--Engage in any other agricultural activity as determined by the State Agriculture Development Committee and adopted by rule or regulation pursuant to the provisions of the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C52:14B-1 et seq.)