‘Constitutional’ chickens coming to a backyard near you


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Arizona Legislature has only been in session for two weeks, and already we are getting the wingnut "crazy base" bills that seek to redefine the meaning of the Constitution according to their alternate reality.

Coming soon to a backyard near you . . . "constitutional" chickens!


No, really. Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa) — Geezus, there's more than one nutty Farnsworth in the lege? — claims that you have a "constitutional right" to fresh chickens and eggs. And "constitutional" chickens trump your neighbor's property rights and any complaints they may have about noise from your chickens, and the odor of chicken poop.

This nutty Farnsworth sounds like the Muppets' Gonzo and his chickens. "Hello ladies!" Lawmaker: Homegrown chicken and eggs are a constitutional right:

Gonzo-and-camilla-the-chicken2Saying Arizonans have a constitutional right to fresh chicken and eggs, state lawmakers are moving to override city ordinances that restrict the ownership of fowl.

The proposal by Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, would declare that the rights of property owners to raise poultry trumps the rights of the folks next door not to have to put up with them. SB 1151 would void any existing city ordinance to the contrary.

The law would apply only to detached single-family homes. Owners of town houses and condos still would have to live chicken-free.

Cities would be able to limit the number of fowl. And roosters could still be forbidden unless they lacked the ability to crow.

But it would allow homeowners to put the pens right up against the property line, a significant change for cities such as Tucson, which permits up to 24 chickens on a residential lot. But the ordinance requires the coop to be at least 50 feet from any dwelling on an adjacent property.

* * *

Farnsworth said Wednesday that’s not the role of cities, calling bans and severe restrictions “kind of ridiculous.”

“The proper role of government according to the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution is to protect the liberty of the people,” he said. “Liberty of the people is being eroded, particularly property rights.”

Farnsworth said the issue of animal ownership is that it’s more than a simple question of preference. He said that, growing up in Mesa, if his family had not had chickens, as well as rabbits and goats, family members might have been short on food at times.

Twenty-one other legislators, out of the 90 at the Capitol, have signed on as co-sponsors.

Farnsworth acknowledged a next-door neighbor might not want a chicken pen right up against the fence. But he said that right to live in a chicken-free zone is limited.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that our own property rights on our property need to be supreme,” Farns-worth said.

Did you catch that? The property rights of chicken owners are unlimited and are superior to the property rights of non-chicken owners whose rights are limited, because Gonzo grew up with chickens and Lord Farnsworth decrees that it is so. "Small government conservative" my ass. What's next? Can people have rabbit hutches? Can they have goats? What about ducks? Geese? Pigeons? Where do you draw the line?

If you want farm livin' Oliver, move out to the countryside.


  1. I have had chickens for several years in south Scottsdale. Not sure what this man’s problem is. It can’t be the smell because there is none. We are not talking about hundreds of chickens just a few for dress eggs. Is it the noise? What noise, the loudest that I have ever heard my hens is when a coyote got in the yard. We are not talking about keeping roosters, there is quite a difference between raising cock fighting roosters and a few hens to give you fresh eggs.

  2. Yes a person right is not dependent on what the next door neighbor has to say. If that was the case someone could move in next door to you and say I have a serious heath issue now because I am allergic to your 2 dogs and they are causing me a health issue because they are running along the property line. I am unable to now use my backyard. Well according to you the dog owner should now have to have the dogs removed because it is a health issue. Your dog have now created a safety issue for your neighbor. So if this was the case would you claim it is your right to own dogs on your property or would you say your neighbors rights come first???? Will you answer or will you just keep screaming chicken?

    Here you go again putting the neighbor ahead of the property owner stating that the property line belongs to your neighbor. Isn’t the property line also belong to you. do you own the the section up to the fence or does the neighbor own your side up to the fence?

    You State – And if he complains, your answer is “I can do whatever the hell I want with my property, f$#$ off!” You won’t answer yet another simple question. Do the cities not have ordinances in place for someone to file a complaint is somehow you are doing something that is not in compliance?

    Still can’t see it is about property rights can you.
    Again you state that if the word chicken is not written in the Constitution then there is no right to these. So you believe if the US Constitution does not have a word written in it to spell a certain item out then that item can never be a right or people can never even be given that right?

    You are unable to even make a argument to what you believe all you can do is fall back to saying chickens are not in the Constitution. Yet here again it is about Property Rights!

    There would be no rights to anything well unless it was spelled out if that was the case. What a sad country this would be if your ideas had any bearing.

  3. It is you who is taking the position that your right to use your property as you desire, in this case to raise chickens in an urban environment, trumps your neighbor’s rights not to have your chicken coop encamped on his property line. And if he complains, your answer is “I can do whatever the hell I want with my property, fuck off!”

    This is not how property law works in the United States. It is also why communities have zoning laws for such things, regulating the use of property for the health, safety and welfare of its citizens.

    If you are seriously arguing that there is a “constitutional right” to raise chickens in your yard, then you have never read the document and know nothing of constitutional law. You are just ranting and raving.

  4. Again you ignore what you stated- “chickens trump your neighbor’s property rights and any complaints they may have about noise from your chickens, and the odor of chicken poop.” Do cities and towns have ordinances in place to take care of complaints just like this type of thing you are saying. AKA dog barking and pooping in yards etc. YES or NO We all know the answer is yes but would love to see what you really think

  5. The State had to put the Private Property Rights Protection Act into place because it saw and foresaw people with mindsets like yourself. This was to protect peoples property rights from people who think what they want is more important or more socially acceptable to be doing on once property should prevail because somehow they are more important than the actual property owners rights. Whats next? You put these other articles forward and and agree with the opinion stated within. Everyone can see you only pick and choose the articles you agree with from those cities that have ordinances in place to prevent fowl and will spew their agenda to try their hardest to keep the power over the people and maintain the current status. No matter how many times you try to say this is about chickens when it comes down to it the truth is Property Rights are the topic. One persons property rights are not dependent upon what another person says next door. if that was the reality there would be no such thing as property right. So I would hope you will just admit the error of your argument. But I am guessing you will either never respond or attach the argument with something so ridiculous like well what if your neighbor wants to build a sewage plant next door or put cows on his roof kinda thing.

  6. AMENDING Title 12, Chapter 8, Arizona Revised Statutes, by adding Article 2.1; relating to the Private Property Rights Protection Act.

    Sec. 2. Findings and declarations

    4. Notwithstanding these clear constitutional rights, the state and municipal governments of Arizona consistently encroach on the rights of private citizens to own and USE (Keyword is USE) their property, requiring the people of this State to seek redress in our state and federal courts which have not always adequately protected private property rights as demanded by the State and Federal Constitutions.

    So who is protection property rights? I think those reading this would not agree it is you. Property rights are not a non issue. The fifth Amendment of the US Constitution kinda makes that clear. Did you not read that part of the constitution? Maybe that part wasn’t written for those chicken owners since it didn’t say them or use the word chickens as you stated. I can’t believe a educated man like your self would say that since the Constitution didn’t say the word chicken then if people want to own them on their property they can not unless the neighbors approve so they are protected (well you did say the other option that they can but they need to be segregated to certain areas of town where it is okay). That is like saying your blog isn’t covered under the freedom of speech because the word Internet can’t be found in the Constitution or Federalists Papers. Still trying to find the words dogs and cats that seem to be covered. Could you refer everyone to that section of the Constitution?

  7. I think again you continue to miss the whole point. when did property right become a unworthy cause? When in your mind did property rights only matter if you approve of what your neighbor is wanting to do in his or her property? Why do you think you can dictate what someone can and can not own as a pet or raise? So are stating that your property rights are greater than others? And you say you love the Constitution BLAH. You state – There are plenty of places and properties where people can own and enjoy livestock- So if a person does not have the money to afford a large property then they shouldn’t have the same right to own some fowl. Sounds like only a select privileged few are getting this right and you are declare this as a good thing. Hum, sounds like class warfare to me. You love to push your agenda not protect peoples rights. I guess in your world only the well off can enjoy personal liberty. Do you think those that want fowl are somehow inferior to others that they should have to live in separate places away from the more civilized people like yourself? Is this really what you are trying to say without saying it? Public Health Concerns come on… You flushing all your blood pressure medicine down the sewer each day and it ending up in the groundwater table is more of a public health concern than a couple fowl. Please be honest with people when pretending to support the constitution and say you do when it fits your agenda and belief. At least then people can take you serious at your word.

  8. The Arizona Republic’s Political Insider had this to add on Sunday, http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20140125rep-orr-space-travel-companies.html

    “We the chickens of Arizona … When David Farnsworth was appointed to replace departing Mesa state Sen. Rich Crandall, he spoke eloquently of his desire to use his time in the Legislature to preserve and defend the Constitution.

    But his first orders of business weren’t to propose laws protecting gun rights, printing presses or religion. Farnsworth wants to bring the full force of state government down to enforce the people’s right to keep and bear … chickens.

    Now, Insider is a pretty big fan of the Constitution, but we’ve been unable to find anything in it about chickens. We also checked an online version of the Federalist Papers and did a search for the word “chicken.”

    The result was a big goose egg. Apparently poultry tyranny wasn’t on ol’ Publius’ radar in 1787.”

  9. So the clear take-away from this discussion is chicken owners declare that the rights of property owners to raise poultry trumps the rights of the folks next door not to have to put up with them.

    And you somehow believe this is a “constitutional” right? The Sierra Vista Herald has a good editorial on this subject, “Our View: Another non-issue for the state.” http://www.svherald.com/content/staff/2014/01/24/366404

    “When exactly does a local ordinance become an issue of personal liberty and a violation of the United States Constitution?
    * * *
    What makes chickens so special? If state legislators are concerned that personal liberties are being eroded because municipalities are violating the U.S. Constitution with local laws, then the same ownership rights allowed for chickens should transfer to other animals, like cattle, pigs and other livestock.

    Let’s not be discriminatory.

    Once again lawmakers in Phoenix are demonstrating a profound ignorance of what really matters and instead are choosing to focus on the ridiculous. When it comes to chickens or similar livestock, it’s not a case of personal liberty as much as a concern for public health. There are plenty of places and properties where people can own and enjoy livestock, but close proximity to densely-populated residential settings can create an environment prone to public health concerns.”

  10. Chickens make less smell and noise than the family dog. In fact, chickens make far LESS noise and waste. And the waste is useful for garden compost in the garden. Sure someone could make a mess of it, just like a person could let their dogs roam and leave their droppings everywhere. For that, every city and town has nuisance laws. A good neighbor is precious, especially when they have eggs to share. I support SB1151, and look forward to providing healthy, fresh eggs for my family, and education to any of my neighbors who wish to keep chickens without mess, smell, or noise. It isn’t difficult, and can be a valuable family experience.

  11. And just in case someone is reading composting and fertilizer and thinking manure and very stinky–no–that’s not the same comparison as tons of cow manure fertilizer!! Heck I’ve lived in HOAs that ban everything except breathing and have smelled cow manure from nearby farms on occasion. It stinks but 1) nothing like chicken poop and 2) I’m glad someone is still farming–everyone needs to eat–and at least that’s one less thing we’ve outsourced overseas but hey why not eat contaminated chicken from China?!? Government is going to regulate (or not) depending on who has the most money to give them–why not let the average citizen take care of and provide for themselves without being bullied and regulated?

  12. ANY pet that is a nuisance can be reported. This bill does NOT override that right to complain. Too bad I cannot complain against all the “unknown” dog owners who don’t clean up their dog’s stinkin’ poop at parks, etc. The fact that intelligent citizens in a developed country even have to have this conversation about who’s pet is better than who’s is a sad commentary on how far we’ve allowed government to regulate, regulate, regulate assuming that we, the population at large, is unable to be civil, intelligent, courteous and sensible! Dogs bark, cats meow-both can be a huge nuisance and yet someone ok’d them as pets why can’t I have the right to chickens that are NOT as loud as dogs barking and don’t run amuck as strays reproducing at will filling pounds and shelters at cities’ expense? Why do we have to bully one another over our pets of choice? There are truly bigger issues–education, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, etc! How about sensible, intelligent citizens take the responsibility for their property they own and live life rather than regulating it to death?!?

  13. This blogger clearly likes to exercise his constitutional right to free speech…without a face to back up his opinionated, biased, uneducated opinion.

    1. Laying hens, at their loudest, have about the same decibel level as human conversation (65 decibels). There are cases of flocks being kept for years without the next door neighbors knowing it. But then some noisy neighbor looks over a fence and the chicken keeper losing his/her flock while their neighbor’s yapping dogs can stay (FYI, barking dog are 90+ decibels).

    2. A 40 lbs dog generates more poop than *TEN* chickens. Does poop smell? Well sure if you don’t keep it clean ALL POOP SMELLS; so you clean up after your animals. BUT chicken poop can actually be composted and used as a garden fertilizer…unlike dog poop.

    I don’t see how my neighbor having 3 dogs that stay out most of the day is less infringing than me wanting 5 hens that actually produce a food source.

    Who decided dogs and cats were pets but chickens are not? Chickens are pets with purpose!!!!

  14. I’ve asked, my neighbors have never even heard my chickens. They enjoy the eggs that I give them also. Not only are they not a nuisance, but they are a benefit to my neighborhood. Oh, and their waste? It’s being composted to go into my garden to grow vegetables, that will also benefit my neighbors. We used to have a cricket and black widow problem. That is a thing of the past, and I’m sure my neighbors are happy that there is no longer black widows and crickets in our area. Pesticides that would harm their pets weren’t used either. Maybe one of your neighbors will do you the favor of owning chickens.

  15. Boy am I glad this guy is not my neighbor! He must be such a joy to live next to. He needs to spend more time actually learning the facts and less time trying to control his neighbors.

  16. Last year, according to news reports, a Chinese poultry supplier provided Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in China with chicken fattened by large quantities of illegal drugs. And in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned pet owners not to feed their pets jerky treats from China. Since 2007, approximately 600 dogs and cats in the United States have mysteriously died, and 3,600 have been sickened from eating Chinese pet treats, including those containing chicken or duck.

    China has an unusually troubling record when it comes to food safety. Specific instances include: dangerously high levels of mercury found in Chinese baby formula; more than 16,000 diseased pig carcasses dumped in a river to rot; more than $1 million worth of rat and other small mammal meat sold to Chinese consumers as lamb; and more than 300,000 Chinese children sickened, with several dying, from melamine-tainted milk powder.

    Yet despite these concerns, chicken can now be processed in China and sent back to this country for human consumption even though there will be no on-site USDA inspectors in Chinese processing facilities to ensure food safety. Furthermore, Chinese-processed chicken does not have to bear “Country Of Origin Labeling,” which means that consumers will not know if they are purchasing or eating chicken processed in China.

    There should be NO QUESTION why we want to grow/feed/raise our own chickens in OUR own backyards.

    As others have stated, there is no smell, hens only cackle when laying an egg, they eat bugs, scorpions, weeds (we have none because they eat the shoots as they first sprout), provide excellent compost/fertilizer material, etc. If you’ve NEVER owned a chicken, you’ll NEVER likely understand why we all want this bill passed into law. The good news is – this bill will give YOU the right to own your own chicken and the innumerable benefits from doing so.

    100% FULL SUPPORT FOR SB 1151

  17. I would also suggest that the editor of this article educate himself also. Chickens are quieter than dogs and have less odor than dogs. All cities have ordinances in place already setup to handle any complaint just the same as a neighbors cat pooping in another neighbors sandbox or flower garden. Please research before you just spill your slanted hate of chickens. I bet you are the guy that leaves his dogs poop in my front yard grass and think that is okay 🙂

  18. Fine! I’m going to move in next door to his home and exercise my property rights by opening a rendering plant/sewage treatment plant. WE’LL see just how long he supports my holy property rights!

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