What is the "farm exemption" and what qualifies for the exemption?
The State of Iowa has given counties the authority to develop zoning regulations and to adopt building codes for their unincorporated areas. However, the State has declared that farms should be able to operate relatively free from local restrictions. This "right to farm" is contained in the following sections from the Code of Iowa:

335.2 Farms exempt.

Except to the extent required to implement section 335.27, no ordinance adopted under this chapter applies 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. However, the ordinances may apply to any structure, building, dam, obstruction, deposit or excavation in or on the flood plains of any river or stream.

331.304.3.b Farms exempt.

A county building code shall not apply to farm houses or other farm buildings which are primarily adapted for use for agricultural purposes, while so used or under construction for that use.

Even though the State exempts farms from zoning and building regulations, it has provided few guidelines as to what should be considered a farm. In order to qualify under the agricultural exemption, it must be clearly demonstrated that the principal use of the land and the proposed building(s) is farm-related. This includes proposed dwellings, and that the occupants of the dwelling are primarily engaged in agriculture.

We strongly encourage anyone wishing to claim the exemption - especially for a new house - to contact us prior to the start of construction to determine if the exemption is appropriate. The farm exemption applies only to Linn County zoning and building regulations. Other permits (such as floodplain development, well, septic, E911 address or driveway access) may be required. Please contact the appropriate county department for information.

We may be reached at (319) 892-5130 or you may submit an information request by contacting us at plan_dev@linncounty.org.

Farm Exemption Information & Application Sheet

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1. What are the current construction codes for Linn County?
2. How much does a building permit application cost in Linn County Iowa?
3. Is a building permit required for siding, roofing or replacing windows in Linn County?
4. When are inspections required in Linn County and how do I set up an inspection?
5. What are the building inspectors' hours?
6. What permits are required to build a house in Linn County?
7. What is the "farm exemption" and what qualifies for the exemption?