Agriculture is more than a “way of life.” It is an evolving industry, changing to incorporate new technologies in order to remain economically competitive. Just a generation ago, farms were relatively small and fewer numbers of animals were raised on each farm. Today, however, there are fewer farms and less land available to raise animals. But the demands to feed an increasing population must be met in a wholesome and safe, environmentally responsible and economically viable way.
Furthermore, the land available to raise animals tends to be closer to people and houses than in the past. Neighboring home-owners may have little or no connection or understanding of agricultural practices and little tolerance for the inconvenience of odors from animal housing facilities or manure applications, slow moving and over-sized equipment on highways, pesticide applications, flies, noise and dust.
Do you see where this can lead to conflicts?
That potential for conflicts is why the PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program exists.
The PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program handles public relations, education and conflict management related to agriculture. The Program offers statewide liaison services to communities on issues affecting agriculture, land use, environment and planning. We focus on pro-active education, but we have re-active responsibilities, too.
New techniques and technologies in production agriculture and controversial projects utilizing such techniques and technologies, have, at times, led to misunderstandings and animosity between the agricultural community and the general public. These controversies have a negative impact on Conservation Districts, agricultural producers, the agricultural community, and neighborhoods where the controversy takes place. Through education and facilitation, the Ombudsman Program endeavors to help successfully resolve or eliminate such misunderstandings and conflict.