Most people do not understand the legal issues that arise when buying and operating farmland. Challenges involving land use and zoning regulations or environmental permitting can devastate an already-slim profit margin.
Whether you are a restaurant entrepreneur seeking to open a farm-to-table operation or a Silicon Valley corporate refugee shifting from microchips to microgreens, understanding the legal ramifications of farm ownership is the key to building a profitable agricultural business.
Agricultural runoff can pollute waterways and wetlands. Make sure you obtain all appropriate discharge permits from state and federal environmental agencies before commencing operations. These permits monitor and restrict environmental impact. Failing to obtain the required environmental permits, or operating beyond the scope of the permit, can result in significant fines. If runoff from your property damages other landowners’ property, you may be vulnerable to litigation.
The number of urban farms and indoor growing operations continues to rise as cultural narratives emphasize the importance of local production, sustainability, and the ability for all populations to access fresh food. Zoning regulations in populated areas are drastically different from those in rural settings. Make sure to obtain proper building permits, especially if you are creating a rooftop growing operation. Adhere to local noise ordinances and ensure proper space between structures if you maintain livestock. Finally, if you plan to sell your products on-site, you will need to understand food safety regulations and obtain the proper commercial licenses.
Knowing how to navigate agricultural real estate laws can help you grow and profit from your farming operation.