Every day is a good day for livestock farmers to be mindful of the needs and concerns of neighbors while implementing best-management practices to grow their farms successfully and responsibly. However, these activities take on added significance during summer. That's when neighbors are more involved in outdoor activities and weather conditions hinder timely odor dispersion, says Rex Hoppes, organizational director for the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers.
"Prevailing summer winds typically originate from the south-southeast, so you must be especially considerate of the people and places located to the north and northwest of your farms," Hoppes told a gathering of livestock farmers attending last week's World Pork Expo in Des Moines.
Watch which way the wind is blowing
In addition, the air is typically heavier and the winds are lighter during summer so odor has a tendency to stay closer to the ground for a longer period of time. This is especially true during late-evening and early-morning hours.
"Therefore, summer is a good time of year to evaluate your odor control efforts," says Hoppes. "This includes assessing tree and shrub plantings to determine their effectiveness and if they need some attention."
Since its launch three years ago, the coalition has helped more than 700 families make responsible and successful changes to their livestock farms. Techniques recommended by CSIF also reduce the likelihood that conflict will evolve between farmers and their neighbors.
"It's important to know that even lawful businesses – like livestock farming – can generate differences of opinion between neighbors," says Hoppes.
Get help and information before building
Properly locating new facilities and communicating with neighbors, he adds, are critical steps in responsibly adding livestock at an existing location or starting a new farm. "We encourage farmers to really evaluate situations with neighbors carefully," he says. "It's important to have some conversations with them prior to constructing new facilities and to respond to concerns they may have."
When evaluating a new site, farmers should consider the facility's size, type of manure storage structure, proximity of land for nutrient incorporation and distance to surface water, wells, neighbors, parks, churches and cemeteries. CSIF also urges farmers to make sure their employees, manure applicators, contractors and suppliers share their commitment to being good neighbors.
Farmers interested in receiving a helping hand this summer and all year-round are encouraged to contact CSIF at 800-932-2436. Livestock farming resources can also be accessed on line at www.supportfarmers.com.