The Realities of Rural Life

There’s a lot to think about when moving to the country. Sometimes the reality is very different than the dream although most farmers work hard to get to know their non-farm neighbours and explain to them the processes that must happen for a farm to run smoothly. We like the way this writer from the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder explores this conundrum.

The realities of rural life
The Cornwall Standard-Freeholder
Wed Oct 28 2009
Page: 3
Section: News
Column: Over The Farm Gate
Over the years, the balance of those dwelling and working in rural Ontario has changed… and not necessarily for the better. Presently less than 1 per cent of the rural population are actual farmers as defined by the “Farming and Food Production Protection Act” ( FFPPA) and many conflicts arise between them and the non-farmers.

There are two main themes in the FFPPA. One is that farmers are protected from nuisance complaints made by neighbours, provided that they are following normal farming practices and the other is that no municipal by-law can restrict a normal farming practice carried on as part of an agricultural operation. The farmer has back-up from both sides!

The move to the countryside is usually centered around the misconception of peace and tranquility, of getting back to the land and away from the endless noise and smells of the city as well as notions that the kids and dogs can run free.
Trespass and animal control laws quickly put a stop to that. Then add to this city exodus to the large number of former farm children, now married with kids, who move back to their rural roots but somehow forget the realities of the farm life they were raised with.

So, as more and more urbanites/ non-farmers move to the country, the likelihood of complaints and conflicts with the farming community increases as they quickly discover that they have just swapped city problems for country ones.
As the farming seasons progress, complaints from exurbanite residents become louder and louder.

The noise and lights of equipment on the fields as well as smells from applied chemicals and fertilizers are usually the first swath as farmers rush to plant hundreds of acres of their crop of choice in a very small time frame. Haying then starts a new tirade, the noise, big equipment, wagons and dust. Now, fall brings the long hours and, again, dust as crops are harvested, transported and dried. Mixed into this is the conceived irritants from livestock operations: noise, motors running, manure smells and flies. It seems that the fact that the country side is a vital food producing business becomes lost on the new residents …. it should just be quiet and pretty.

To provide support for farmers and normal farming practices from complaints, the aforementioned Act is their backup. It lists seven perceived “nuisances” which it deems normal and acceptable for farms to create. The original three were noise, odour and dust and since the original conception of this Act, light, vibration, smoke and flies have been added.

It was also designed to assist farmers when they come into conflict with municipal By-laws which may restrict their normal farming practices and about 1% of complaints received are in this category.

Apparently the bulk of farm nuisance complaints involve odour problems however other common ones include lights from greenhouses or equipment being used at night, vibrations from trucks, tractors, fans and/or boilers, smoke from burning trees or organic waste, flies from manure or spilled feed, noise from crop drying fans and/or irrigation pumps and dust from field tillage or truck traffic.

Most problems can be solved by an amicable conversation with the farmer, however if a rural resident wishes to pursue a complaint under the FFPPA, or if a farmer wishes to appeal a Bylaw, there is a set protocol to follow, at the end of which a panel will set a hearing to determine if the farming action which initiated the problem is indeed a normal farming practice.

It would appear that, in the vast majority of cases, the farm wins, which is most surely as it should be.

Posted by OFAC on December 24th, 2009 :: Filed under Farm life, Innovation and technology, Regulations, Uncategorized
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One Response to “The Realities of Rural Life”

  1. The realities of rural life
    January 6th, 2010

    [...] A great article by Angela Dorie printed in the Cornwall Standard Freeholder last fall talks about this very issue. You can read the article here, on the “Let’s talk farm animals” blog. [...]

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