Johnson County is trying to control your farm

Johnson County is Still Trying to Control Your Farm – It's Not Too Late to Take Action!

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is considering a zoning ordinance that could back your farm into a corner by requiring an application and county approval of new farm buildings and structures, denying “farming” status to some small farms, limiting the ability of farmers to raise livestock, assessing civil fines or criminal penalties for noncompliance, and more. The supervisors have approved some amendments that lessen the blow, but these amendments don't go far enough.

Not only does this ordinance threaten Johnson County farms, it violates Iowa law, which says zoning ordinances do not apply to "land, farm houses, farm barns, farm outbuildings or other buildings or structures which are primarily adapted, by reason of nature and area, for use for agricultural purposes, while so used."

Now is the time for action! You have two opportunities to make your voice heard:

1) Sign the petition. All county residents or landowners are welcome to sign the petition by December 15. We will deliver the petition to the board of supervisors.


2) Email your comments to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors by December 15 to be included in the board's meeting packet. Click the button below to email your comments.


The supervisors can still amend the ordinance before it is adopted. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for December 12 at 5:30 PM. The final reading and adoption is expected December 19 at 9 AM.

Additional background on the UDO

Johnson County Farm Bureau has closely monitored the progress of the Johnson County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for years. Our members have worked with the county Planning and Zoning Commission on numerous recommendations for the ordinance to address their concerns. Now, it’s up to the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance that doesn’t place restrictions on our farms.

Some of our key concerns with the ordinance:

  • Farmers should not be required to submit an application and get county approval before building a new house, constructing a grain bin or outbuilding, or growing their livestock farm.
  • The county should not restrict raising livestock on farms in the rural area. Beginning farmers cannot afford the amount of land the ordinance requires to raise livestock and earn a living.
  • Existing livestock farms need to be able to change and grow to serve their customers. The proposed ordinance does not allow changes or growth to support their family.
  • Small farms should not be singled out and regulated more stringently than medium or larger-sized farms. These farms have to go through a cumbersome rezoning process to sell farm products direct to consumers.
  • Farms should not be discriminated against because of their size or diversity.
  • The ordinance allows for criminal penalties, not just a civil fine or stop order.

A printable background sheet is available here.