If factory farms are required to add fencing, buffers, screening who enforces it?

Asked December 3, 2013, 1:26 PM EST

No matter how large or small, farms located next to neighboring homes ask for trouble if they add more animals then their land can hold. Not only are the farmers disrespectful of their neighbors enjoyment of their own properties, but they have no concern for others health. Neighbors can tolerate a handful of animals while they live in agriculture zoned areas, but when they pay property taxes on rural residential acreages and are located in small communities with each living on one acre plots, with each property having separate wells and septic systems, the next door farm should know better then to enlarge his farm from a handful of animals to hundreds more requiring more buildings. This has naturally caused anger from all nearby neighbors, but since it is agriculture, no one will take on this matter with the odors, the noises and the dust. Because the farm is considered small( not to the neighbors), nothing can be done....no one will listen..... we are told to contact a different agency and totally get the run around. Not even the county health department will return our calls or respond to our letters. We all would like to put up fencing, tall shrubs and screening, but feel that the farm should do this and pay the cost. Plus, to block out all the nuisances the buffering and screening should be located as close as possible to the farm buildings with the animals and the manure. My question is who specifically does one ask to check out this site: is fencing only done out of respect at some farms, or can it be required or mandated or expected? Or is this just a civil matter that the courts decide in a lawsuit? If this is our only option will the Right to Farm Act or Farm Bureau kick in to help protect the farmer? Selling and moving is not a option since now our property values have been reduced and no one will want to live this close to such a large nuisance right next door. By the way, the farmer has only about 2.5 acres in the middle of nice ranch homes, alongside a fairway of a golf course, so you can see why we do not want to move. Why this farmer wants to live here and farm is a good question also.

Tuscarawas County Ohio

1 Response

Working out these kind of issues is always best if neighbors can communicate across the fence. However, this does not appear to be happening in your situation. I am not sure I have the answer but will provide some ideas that you may have not tried.
It sound like the size and scale of your neighbor does not meet the large farm definition to fall under EPA regulations, so that is not an option. Is your county/township zoned by chance. Zoning (although it comes with its own challenges) could provide language that would prohibit land uses within the residential areas (providing this is within the residential area). The other ideas I had is if the neighbor's property was part of the original tract of land that was subdivided for the homes in the area. Some subdivisions prohibit livestock (I live in a subdivision that prohibits livestock and specifically mention poultry and rabbits to be included in the definition of livestock). Also look to any authority within the county that lists what constitutes a nuisance, or if there can be a case built on animal neglect if they animals are in poor living conditions.I would suggest you talk to Chris Zoller at the OSU Extension office in your county. He might be able to provide you with some better suggestions or help facilitate a discussion between you, the farmer, and other concerned neighbors. These are never easy solutions and I can appreciate your frustration. Unfortunately there is no easy fix or quick answer that will solve this issue. You mentioned allowing the court to solve the issue, and that should be used as the last resort. Typically that is very costly and often the solution is unacceptable to all parties involved.