The Erie County Farm Bureau is picking up some spare change when it goes to its national convention for its success in convincing towns to pass right-to-farm laws.
The group will receive $2,000 from the American Farm Bureau as one of 15 groups honored at the Salt Lake City gathering.
Eleven towns in Erie County have passed right-to-farm laws at the Farm Bureau's urging, said county President Hans Mobius. He said three more are pending.
"Our goal is to get every town in Erie County to pass a right-to-farm law," said Mobius. "Our basic premise is to preserve farmland and to get more people involved.
"And by doing this, we got a lot of people talking about Farm Bureau, but also to know their town legislators and to let the legislators know there's a lot of farming going on. A lot of times, the officials don't even realize what they have in their own towns."
New York State and Erie County have passed their own right-to-farm laws, but Mobius said it makes sense for towns, too.,
"They can shape their right-to-farm law according to their town and what kind of agriculture they have," he said. "In Clarence, it extends a mile. The county's law has 500 feet. We made it a mile because we have a chicken farm, and smell travels a long distance."
Right-to-farm laws protect farmers from lawsuits from residents who may build next to them; the laws also provide notice of farm activity to prospective buyers. "It protects the town more than anything," said Mobius. "They have a way out. They can say 'no' when someone complains."
The towns that have passed the laws are Amherst, Brant, Clarence, Colden, Collins, Concord, Eden, Elma, Evans, Marilla and North Collins.
The Erie County Farm Bureau will also receive $1,400 in other Farm Bureau awards regionally and statewide. The national award is for "public relations and information."