Getting Along With the Neighbors – Some Suggestions from Farmers

University of Wisconsin Extension hosted a meeting and part of the agenda was a discussion on neighbor relations. The farms represented at the meeting were large animal operations. They shared ideas on how they build or repair relationships with the community.

* During a recent power outage, we stopped by all of the neighbors with small children, offered the conference room at the farm as a warming shelter, as we have a generator on site that kept our power going.

* I provide a business card with my number to all of the neighbors and ask them to call me anytime with questions or concerns, allowing them to
also give me advance notice if they have a get together or event that our crews should be aware of. I say to call anytime they have a question
or concern. I stop by once per year, even to the neighbors who don’t like me.

* We do an annual training with our manure haulers, reviewing both the regulations we are under (243)/our maps, but also how we expect them to
act when representing our farm–etiquette expectations on the road-Jake braking, speed, being polite

* My clients are designating one person who does marking of setbacks in the field — biodegradable flags, spray paint, cones, even tillage that
shows where the setbacks area

* When a valve was left open on a tanker last fall, we bought car wash tokens and gave them to anyone driving through the area and those who
may not even have left home yet but lived on that road.

* We bought an industrial street sweeper and use it to clean mud and manure from the road

* After LISTENING to what the neighbors said in the hearing, some in my region are volunteering to observe larger setbacks to address neighbor
concerns. These can not be put into the permit and become enforcable, but it does show that they are open to the neighbor concerns.

* In January, I buy certificates for a maid service and hand deliver them to the neighbors. That way if our operations create dust, they can use it anytime during the year when they want to.

* We sponsor a local baseball team/soccer team, put the farm name on the back of the shirts, and after each game, provide chocolate milk to the winners “and non winners”

* We plow the snow from the ends of our neighbor’s driveways after each storm. It takes 5 minutes but they really appreciate it.

For More Information

For more on neighbor relations, working with industry (especially insurers), and professional training, contact Kevin Erb, University of Wisconsin.