Illinois Agriculture Law: Open Burning on Farms

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Open burning is necessary for the practice of farming, but Illinois also has to balance that interest of farmers with the public interest in preserving clean air. For this reason, Illinois allows open burning for agricultural waste and landscape waste.

Agricultural waste is refuse generated on site on a farm or ranch by crop and livestock production practices. What is classified as “agricultural waste”?

• Bags
• Cartons
• dry bedding
• structural materials
• crop residue.

What is excluded from this definition?

• Garbage
• dead animals
• burnings
• corn cribs
• landscape waste.

Agricultural waste may be burned pursuant to the following conditions:

1. Restricted to the site where the waste was generated. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 237.120(a)(1)).
2. Cannot be burned in any restricted areas which is defined as a city, village, or incorporated township plus a zone extending one mile beyond the boundaries when there is a population of 1,000 or more people. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 237.101)
3. Cannot be burned if it hampers roadway, railroad, or airfield visibility.
4. Must be more than 1,000 feet from residential or populated areas.
The operator must show that no reasonable and economic alternative method of disposal is available. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 237.120(a)(6)).

Landscape waste includes leave, grass, tree limbs, shrubbery cuttings, and other materials resulting from the care of lawns, shrubbery, vines, and trees. Landscape burning for a business (such as clearing land to build a hotel for example) does require a permit and an air curtain. The permit can be found here.

Landscape waste may be burned pursuant to the following conditions:

1. If permitted by local authorities, leaves may be burned on the site where they were generated, or at sites provided and supervised by local government.
2. Local governments may ban landscape waste burnings, even if State law does not.
3. Local governments may regulate burning by specifying times and/or weather conditions during which open burning of landscape waste may occur.

Local laws can supersede state regulations so it is advisable to always consult local laws before engaging in burning. Accordingly, penalties for violations of open burning laws are regulated by local government.

Rincker Law, PLLC is a nationally recognized food and agriculture law firm.  We are here to help farmers and ranchers maneuver the complexities of the law so they can focus on what they do best — help growing the food to feed our communities. 


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