The “eat local” trend sweeping the nation touts the economic and health benefits of eating food stuffs one can find “in their own backyard.” But a group of Arizona senators has taken the phrase literally, by proposing a bill to legalize backyard chickens throughout the state. S.B. 1151 would prohibit Arizona municipalities from banning “a resident of a single-family detached residence from keeping fowl in the backyard of the property.”
While the bill would allow municipalities to regulate the gender of the fowl and how many can be kept, S.B. 1151 would eliminate any current municipal outright prohibitions on keeping them on private property. State Senator David Farnsworth, the creator of the bill which has bipartisan support, believes that since “We (Arizonians) all pretty much come from farming backgrounds,” the legislation will help Arizonians get back to their roots.
Sen. Farnsworth went on to explain that “many of our ancestors raised their own food and had animals which helped us with enjoyment and also food.” Arizonians continue this tradition every year at the Valley Permaculture Alliance’s annual Tour de Coops, “a self-guided tour and sustainability festival that celebrates urban chickens and sustainable living in the Valley of the Sun.”
While many cities in Arizona already allow homeowners to keep backyard chickens, cities like Glendale, the 5th biggest city in Arizona, and Sun City prohibit ownership either throughout the entire city limits or in certain zones. These laws violate the right of property owners to peacefully and productively use their property to feed themselves and their families, and they prevent families from using chickens as an exemplary tool for teaching their children about nature and caring for other living creatures.
Plus, when maintained properly, chicken coops can be unobtrusive. As the Institute for Justice previously reported:
So long as chicken coops are kept clean and properly maintained, they do not cause a rise in pest populations. And maintenance is simple. Coop owners need not spend more than fifteen minutes a week to keep their coops smelling fresh and full of happy and healthy chickens.
Read More: Mississippi Bans Food Bans
The Institute for Justice has joined the fight for food freedom with the launch of our National Food Freedom Initiative. We are litigating on behalf of front yard gardeners in Miami Shores, cottage food producers in Minnesota, and raw milk farmers in Oregon.
— Phil Applebaum
Phil Applebaum is a Maffucci Fellow at the Institute for Justice