What is farming?

(a) the cultivation or other use of land for growing food, fiber, Christmas trees, maple sap, or horticultural and orchard crops; or
(b) the raising, feeding or management of livestock, poultry, fish or bees; or
(c) the operation of greenhouses; or
(d) the production of maple syrup; or
(e) the on-site storage, preparation and sale of agricultural products principally produced on the farm; or
(f) the on-site storage, preparation, production, and sale of fuel or power from agricultural products or wastes principally produced on the farm; or
(g) the raising, feeding, or management of four or more equines owned or boarded by the farmer, including training, showing, and providing instruction and lessons in riding, training, and the management of equines.

(Required Agricultural Practices Regulations -draft-, 2015)

What is a farm structure? (draft)

A structure that is used by a person for farming including a silo, a building to house livestock or raise horticultural or agronomic plants, or customarily used to carry out the agricultural practices defined in Section 3.2 of these rules. It includes a barnyard or waste management system, either of which is created from an assembly of materials including the supporting fill necessary for structural integrity, but excludes a dwelling for human habitation. A farm structure also must be used by a person who can demonstrate the
minimum threshold criteria as found in Section 3.1 of these rules.

Section 3.1 Persons engaged in farming and the agricultural practices as defined in Section 3.2 of these rules, and who meet the minimum threshold criteria for applicability of these rules as found in Section 3.1(a) – (d), shall be presumed to be meeting Required Agricultural Practices and presumed to not have a discharge to waters of the state and groundwater as long as the farm also complies with the conditions and restrictions contained in Sections 4,5,6,7 and 9 of these rules. Farms meeting these minimum thresholds may construct farm structures, consistent with these rules, and are considered by the Secretary as being exempt from the requirement to obtain a municipal permit as set forth in 24 V.S.A. § 4413(d):

(a) farms that are required to be permitted or certified by the Secretary, consistent with the requirements of 6 V.S.A. Chapter 215 and these rules; or
(b) farms that have produced an annual gross income from the sale of agricultural products of $2,000 or more in an average year and are managed, owned or leased by a person who has filed a Form 1040 Schedule F income tax statement in at least one of the past two years; or
(c) any farming operation, whether the $2000 annual gross income or 1040 F filing threshold is met, that is used for the raising, feeding, and management of at least the following number of adult animals on a farm that is no less than 4.0 contiguous acres in size:
four equines;
five cattle, cows or American bison;
fifteen swine;
fifteen goats;
fifteen sheep;
fifteen cervids;
fifty turkeys;
fifty geese;
one-hundred laying hens;
two-hundred and fifty broilers, pheasant, Chukar partridge, or Coturnix quail;
three camelids;
four ratites (ostriches, rheas, and emus);
thirty rabbits;
one hundred ducks;
one-thousand pounds of cultured trout;
or other livestock types, ages, and numbers as may be designated by the Secretary based on the farm’s potential to generate nutrients or other associated livestock wastes; or
(d) any farm with a prospective business or farm management plan, approved by the Secretary, describing how the farm will meet the threshold requirements of this section.

(Required Agricultural Practices Regulations -draft-, 2015)

Why does it matter?

Individuals conducting “farming” and/or constructing a “farm structure” per the definitions above do not fall under local land use and development  jurisdiction, but rather must conform to the State’s rules and requirements (see below).


The Westford Administrative Officer determines whether an operation and/or structure meets the State of Vermont’s definition of “farming” and/or “farm structure”.

Even if the State definitions are met, “farm Structures” must meet local setback requirements unless a variance is granted by the Agency of Agriculture, Foods & Markets.

If the Administrative Officer determines you do not meet the State’s definitions of “farming” and/or “farm structure” all local land use and development regulations apply to your property.  Visit the Land Use & Development Regulation page or Planning & Zoning Office for more information.

Farm structures may not be used for non-farming purposes without first receiving a change of use permit from the Westford Administrative Officer.  In order to receive said permit the Applicant must prove the structure MEETS ALL THE LOCAL LAND USE & DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS.

The State of Vermont is in the process of adopting NEW Required Agricultural Practices Regulations (previously known as Accepted Agricultural Practices). All individual’s conducting  “farming”operations and/or owning “farm structures” MUST ABIDE BY THESE  RULES AND REQUIREMENTS. STATE PERMITS AND/OR CERTIFICATIONS MAY BE REQUIRED.