University of Maryland Extension

Action items

Nicole Cook, B.S., J.D., LL.M., Environmental and Agricultural, Faculty Legal Specialist, Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Urban Ag home | Table of contents

Operating an urban farm requires compliance with a number of state or local zoning, permitting, licensing, and other regulatory requirements. These requirements could have a significant impact on your production and operating plans, and the costs to run your farm. To minimize the impacts and plan your production:

  • Identify any zoning or building permits, waivers, variances or licenses that you are going to need and the costs to obtain them and to comply with them

  • Identify any production regulatory requirements that could significantly affect your farm and the costs to bring your farm into compliance with them (e.g., waste handling and disposal requirements, worker health and safety plans and inspection requirements, environmental permits, food safety regulations, business licenses and food handlers’ licenses)

  • Identify regulatory requirements or industry standards for handling, storing, packaging, and distributing the farm’s products

  • Identify any property, sales or use tax requirements

  • Identify insurance tools appropriate to your situation

Key terms

Legislation: Laws passed by a governing legislative body (Federal or State Government), including authorizing an administrative agency to write regulations to carry out the purpose of the laws

Statute: A law enacted by a legislative body

Regulation: The rules and procedures that agencies develop, implement, and enforce to achieve the goals of the laws

Municipality: A city or town with corporate status and its own government

Ordinance: Legislation enacted by a municipal authority

Preemption: A situation where a law enacted by a higher authority takes precedence over a law enacted by a lower authority

Previous page: Chapter 4: Managing legal risks to grow your urban farm-Introduction
Next page:
Land access, zoning, and permitting

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2021. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.