What Has Happened to Common Sense, by Kathy Smith

The extreme lack of common sense in everyday life has me ready to scream! I’m talking about the people who move to the country, build a beautiful house next to a farm and then have the nerve to try to tell the farmer what he can or cannot do.

Did anyone bother to notice that the farmer was there first? And since it takes more than a few days to build a house, didn’t anyone hear the grain dryers running, smell the manure from cleaning the barn, or notice the dust after disking a field?

We farmers were out here in the sticks long before it became nearly everyone’s dream to own ten acres out in the country. We were out here minding our own business, trying to raise a family and earn a living farming, when lots of people started moving to the country.

Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with people moving to the country as long as they understand that the business of farming nearly always produces noise from tractors and farm equipment working in the fields, odors from spreading manure on the fields, or dust from fitting a field or combining soybeans.

Several years ago an Ohio grain farmer from Warren County was sued by his neighbors for the noise his grain dryers made. He had to spend about $10,000 in attorney fees, as well as precious spring planting time in court defending himself.  The neighbors wanted the farmer to run the dryers only during certain hours and not on weekends.

Court documents the neighbors filed said the noise from the grain dryers was unbearable, caused them to lose sleep, and that they could not enjoy their home, either inside or out. While the lawsuit was pending, the neighbors decided to sell their house and even asked the court to compensate them for selling it below the listed price.

The farmer finally did win the lawsuit but at an enormous cost to himself and his farming operation. The judge wrote in his ruling that “the noise was legitimately associated with a commercial farming operation and is necessary to their livelihoods.”

My problem with this is that it never should have happened in the first place! A farmer should not have to spend any amount of money, let alone $10,000, to defend a normal farming practice such as drying grain. What has happened to common sense?

The farmer involved in this lawsuit believes that as people continue to move out to the country, more and more lawsuits will be filed over normal agricultural practices that have been in place for years. “People want to move out to the country and fresh air but they have to remember that cattle noises and dust are not nuisances, they’re a way of life; it’s how your food is produced,” he said.

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Kathy Smith is a farm wife from Wayne Township. She writes for the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau.