From your side of the fence: Top five neighbor relations tips

05-23-2012 in From Your Side of the Fence

Neighbor relations is never an easy topic for farmers, or me, to talk about. No one-size-fits-all approach works for any and all farms. Each farm is different and each neighborhood is different. All you can do is make your best effort to communicate your plans for your farm in a way that is not offensive, but yet confident and informative. Below are some tips that will help you prepare for a conversation with your neighbors.

  1. Be personal. Include family members in the conversation about the plans to expand your family farm. Be willing to talk about your family and what you do at your farm, in your community and why you enjoy the life you live.
  2. Be specific. Provide details on what will go on once your new livestock barn is up and running. People like information. Explain, for example, how computer-automated systems control the environment for the livestock you care for.
  3. Provide examples. Give people details on how manure will be applied, how the animals will be cared for or how the local economy will benefit from your new livestock barn.
  4. Welcome questions. Listen intently to what your neighbor’s concerns are and respond with a specific answer. Remember, you are not asking for permission to build your livestock barn, you are taking time to provide information and answer questions.
  5. Follow up. Communication doesn’t stop once the first conversation has taken place. Let neighbors know when cement will be poured and that traffic may increase on a specific day. Make sure they know when you will be spreading manure. Keep the lines of communication open.

It is very easy for neighbors to think the worst about your livestock farm expansion or the “unknown.” It is your job to provide information in a way to ease the fears of the “unknown.”

For more information or to help develop a neighbor relations plan specific to your farm, please call 1-800-932-2436.

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