As of July 1, 2018, municipalities with zoning regulations cannot prohibit accessory businesses in the same locaton as a "farm". A business meeting the definition of an "accessory on-farm business" can only be reviewed by the local municipality under site plan review and require the business to meet performance standards for similar commercial uses. A farmer, farm resident, or farm lessee may operate a subordinate business located on a farm regulated by the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets under the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) rules that includes one or both of the following types of businesses:
- The storage, preparation, processing, and sale of qualifying products, provided that more than 50 percent of the total annual sales are from products that are principally produced on the farm at which the business is located.
- Educational, recreational, or social events that feature agricultural practices or qualifying products, or both. Such events may include tours of the farm, farm stays, tastings and meals featuring qualifying products, and classes or exhibits in the preparation, processing, or harvesting of qualifying products.
A “farm stay” means a paid, overnight guest accommodation on a farm for the purpose of participating in educational, recreational, or social activities on the farm that feature agricultural practices or qualifying products, or both. A farm stay includes the option for guests to participate in such activities.
At the same time as seeking a permit from the municipality, an individual should also contact a Regional Permit Specialist at the Department of Environmental Conservation to understand what other permits may be necessary to operate the business, such as potable water supply and wastewater, and fire safety permits.
When an operator receives a local permit for an accessory on-farm business and applies agricultural pesticides on the farm, she/he is required to meet EPA's "worker protection standard," and post signs in the areas of application if the accessory on-farm business takes place in the same area.
For information on how to apply for site plan approval, please contact your municipality.
- Accessory On-Farm Business, Act 143 (H.663)
- Accessory On-Farm Business presentation
- Worker Protection Standard
- Regional Permit Specialist, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
- Farm Definitions and Determinations - VAAFM
- Agricultural Land Use Planning Modules – Farm to Plate
- Opening your Farm to Visitors - Vt. Agritourism Collaborative
- On Farm Rural Enterprises- Farm-Based Education Network - NOFA-VT
- National Agricultural Statistical Service (link)