Farmers and Neighbors

I’ve recently begun working with a Rhode Island farmer who has ‘neighbor problems’ and, therefore, Town problems.

The fellow has a diverse farm in a rural community. From a production perspective, it is exactly the kind of operation the State needs – substantial vegetables, free range chickens, a small herd of cows, a small piggery, dog breeding, and a horse training center his daughter operates.

Unfortunately, the current piggery and chicken shed abut a residential neighbor. The neighbor has objected to the chickens and pigs…and the Town has decided to attempt to deny him the piggery and free range chickens by contending with a zoning variance he obtained when he purchase the property in 1997.

He has attempted to discuss changing the land uses to move the piggery and chicken barn (he even spent $8,000 to build a new piggery pad)…but got nowhere. From my perspective, a new land use and farm management plan, with some help from USDA NRCS on conservation practices, would solve the neighbor’s issues and make it an exemplary farm….one we could use to demonstrate practices to new farmers.

But now he is threatened with the loss of his farm livelihood through a Town initiated legal process. I’m hopeful we can gather ‘cooler’ heads and resolve a thoughtful solution.

It’s a classic conflict for densely settled communities. ( See Article)