Reduce Friction with Non-Farm Neighbors

August 9, 2010 06:41 AM

Citizen complaints against farmers most often stem from odors, but many times relate to surface or ground water, or a combination of the three. And while traditionally most complaints have related to animal agriculture, crop farmers are not exempt.

"Crop farms are not immune to negative perceptions of cropping practices," Nicole Olynk, Purdue University agricultural economist says. "Recent times have seen debates surrounding livestock production practices and related animal welfare and humane treatment concerns. But also in the forefront of citizens' minds are environmental impacts of agricultural practices."

One way farmers can reduce friction is being mindful of the ways nonfarm neighbors perceive on-farm practices. Small acts of neighborly kindness, such as helping neighbors after snowstorms or inviting them to visit the farm, may build goodwill. Slight modifications to farming practices can also help ease tension.

"Simple changes on the part of farm managers, such as avoidance of spreading manure on weekends or holidays, keeping lines of communication open with neighbors to answer questions regarding practices and being cautious about moving machinery on roads during peak times can go a long way in building good community relations," Olynk says.

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