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Life Before Right To Farm Laws: What Was That Like?

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

By Ashley Ellixson

Farm, with a field in the foreground (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).
Farm, with a field in the foreground (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Introduction

Paul, Mae Johnson and I wrote a series of articles discussing the role that right-to-farm laws play in the agriculture industry. Today, I will outline what life was like before such laws and what the legal implications were. Mae highlighted the mediation process under Maryland’s right-to-farm law while Paul compared Maryland’s right-to- farm law with those in other states. Our intentions are to shed light on what can be a confusing area of law and illustrate how the state of Maryland utilizes its right-to-farm law in actual practice.


Brief History

Let me paint you a picture. It’s the year 1911 and the Spur family began farming in Maricopa County, AZ, about 15 miles west of central Phoenix. In 1956, Spur’s predecessors began developing feedlots. In May of 1959, Del Webb began planning an urban retirement community to be known as “Sun City” 10.5 miles north of Spur’s feedlot. Before the development of Sun City, there was nothing near the feedlot for miles. By May of 1960, there were 450 to 500 houses completed or under construction. By 1962, the area where both industries resided looked like the following:


Del Webb community in 1962
Del Webb community in 1962