Agricultural Zoning and Its Role in Farming

Agricultural zoning, also known as agricultural preservation zoning, is a powerful tool used to support farming activities and deter non-agricultural uses that may interfere with farm operations. This zoning strategy aims to promote the development of agricultural structures while limiting the construction of non-farm-related buildings, such as residential homes, that compete for valuable farmland. By implementing agricultural zoning regulations, we can protect the integrity of agricultural communities and ensure the preservation of productive farmland.

The Purpose of Agricultural Zoning

Limiting Urban Expansion

One of the primary objectives of agricultural zoning is to curb suburban sprawl. By designating specific areas for agricultural use, this zoning method helps redirect urban development to more suitable locations. This prevents the encroachment of urban areas onto farmland, safeguarding the viability of agricultural operations.

Preserving Farmland and the Agricultural Community

Agricultural zoning plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of farming communities. By limiting non-agricultural development, we can protect farmland from being repurposed for other purposes that may hinder farming activities. This ensures the continuity of agricultural traditions and sustains the livelihoods of farmers.

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Controlling the Structures on Agricultural Land

Agricultural zoning also regulates the construction of buildings on agricultural land. It ensures that only structures directly related to farming, such as farmhouses, barns, and equipment storage facilities, are permissible. This control helps maintain the focus on agricultural activities and prevents the proliferation of non-farm structures that may compromise the productivity of the land.

Farm Structures Suitable for Agricultural Land

Farmhouses: The Heart of Residential Farms

Farmhouses serve as the central hub of residential farms. Usually located near the barn and closer to the road, they provide convenient access for farmers. Some larger farms may have multiple farmhouses, accommodating the needs of multigenerational families or staff members.

Barns: Versatile Structures for Agricultural Needs

Barns are iconic structures associated with farms. Depending on the farm’s purpose, various types of barns may be present. Dairy farms often feature larger barns with stalls for cattle and milking areas, while horse farms have barns with spacious horse stalls and tack rooms. Farms may have multiple barns to house different livestock.

Poultry Coops: Dedicated Spaces for Raising Chickens

Poultry coops are specialized barns designed for raising chickens for meat or eggs. Different coop styles cater to specific types of poultry, such as broiler barns for growing chickens and layer barns for maximizing egg production. Modern poultry coops often prioritize providing a free-range environment for the chickens.

Livestock Shelters: Protecting Livestock and Land

Livestock shelters, whether permanent or portable, offer shelter for livestock while optimizing the utilization of rangeland and pastureland. These structures, designed with fewer than four walls, protect livestock from harsh environmental conditions. They also help distribute livestock to prevent overgrazing and address resource concerns.

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Loafing Sheds: Safe Retreats for Horses

Loafing sheds, also known as run-in sheds, provide horses with a covered retreat in paddocks or training areas. With three sides open, these structures shield horses from the elements while allowing them to roam freely. Loafing sheds offer a secure and relaxed environment, enabling horses to enjoy extended outdoor stays.

Silos: Essential for Grain Storage

Silos are essential structures for farmers to protect and store grain. These vertical storage units, often made of wood or concrete, play a vital role in maintaining the quality of harvested grain. While primarily used for storing grain, silos can store other materials, like coal.

Equipment Storage: Safeguarding Farming Tools

Farmers rely on various equipment to carry out their daily tasks. Equipment storage structures provide protection from the elements, ensuring the longevity and functionality of farming tools. These structures are typically built near the farmhouse and farm shop for easy access.

Hay & Feed Storage: Essential for Livestock Care

Storing hay and animal feed in dedicated structures helps maintain their quality and reduces spoilage. This ensures that farmers can adequately care for their livestock throughout the year. Safety guidelines govern the construction of feed storage structures to minimize fire hazards.

Cold Storages: Preserving Harvested Crops

Cold storage facilities are crucial for farms to minimize post-harvest losses. By controlling temperature and humidity, these structures keep harvested crops in optimal conditions, maximizing their shelf life. Cold storages are a staple for farms of all sizes.

Riding Arenas: Safe Spaces for Horse Exercise

Riding arenas on agricultural land provide horse owners with dedicated spaces for exercising their animals. These structures offer a safe and controlled environment for daily workouts, regardless of weather conditions. Riding arenas contribute to the overall well-being and performance of horses.

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Building on Agriculturally Zoned Land

If you plan to construct a new building on agriculturally zoned land, it is crucial to understand the regulations that apply to your property. These regulations help maintain the agricultural character of the area and ensure that new structures align with farming activities. Consulting professionals like Millman National Land Services can provide valuable assistance in navigating zoning regulations and understanding what is permissible on your agricultural property.

For more information on zoning codes and regulations, check out our related article.

A silo on agriculturally zoned land

An agriculturally zoned farm

Do you have questions about what you can build on your agriculturally zoned land? Reach out to Ames Farm Center for guidance and expert assistance in understanding your property’s zoning regulations.