Greg Slipher of Indiana Farm Bureau told a crowd of Belted Galloway breeders from all over the Midwest why it's so important to think about neighbors before you do things like spread manure or other operations that neighbors might not understand.
Slipher is livestock specialist for IFB. He deals with producer vs. neighbor conflicts on a daily basis. He was talking at Doug Abney's farm near Bargersville.
His suggestions relied on common sense, such as get to know your neighbors before you meet them for the first time when you have a manure spill on the road, or worse yet, in court. Be conscientious about their feelings, including not spreading manure when they're hosting an outdoor party. Consider hosting an open house and barbecue or cook-out for the neighbors.
One producer in the crowd was less than convinced.
"What do you do when you respect the neighbors, but they don't respect you?" he asked. He went on to tell stories of kids going four-wheeling in his alfalfa field, lighting big bales of hay on fire and the like.
Slipher's suggestion of "talk to the parents" brought this response.
"I did. They think it's OK. They tell their kids to go ahead, it's open land. In fact, sometimes the parents are out there in my field riding with them."
Couldn't happen in Indiana? It has, and it does. This cattleman lives near the suburbs of the expanding Chicagoland that spills over into northwestern Indiana. He continually battles damage from suburban neighbors who move to the country and don't understand agriculture, or respect it.
The disregard for personal property rights is more common in Europe, and is a topic of debate in countries like Germany. It's usually not an issue here – Americans usually understand the concept of private property.
This sounds like a case where working with the authorities might be warranted, Slipher suggested.