How can I effectively communicate with neighbors?
Neighbors play a critical role in the success of your operation. Maintaining a good relationship and strong lines of communication with neighbors will facilitate the acceptance and positive perception of your operation. While every community and neighbor are unique, there are some basic principles to which you can adhere to establish a good relationship with them. Clearly communicate your focus on animal well-being, your commitment to environmental protection, and the potential positive impacts your operation can have on the local community. These values are likely shared by your neighbors and will be the foundation of good relations with the local community.
The Cornell guide for neighbor relations offers some useful advice for effectively communicating about your facility’s activities and building connections with your neighbors. Possibilities include: conducting farm tours, using social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) to personalize and promote your operation, opening non-restricted areas of the farm for recreational activities, or providing service to the community when possible (mowing brush, plowing snow, etc.). In addition to communicating based on your shared values with your neighbors, courtesy goes a long way. It is recommended that you let your neighbors know when manure spreading is scheduled and be open to changes if neighbors have special outdoor events planned that may conflict. Remember that the key to good communication is to be open. This includes being willing to answer questions and share specific information about your operation. There is a maxim that this two-way communication makes a much better interaction, and it’s certainly true with neighbors.
- Engage Training from the Center for Food Integrity. Offers different training programs to learn “tools to effectively communicate using shared values in “critical conversations”.
- Neighbor relations by The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers
- Georgia extension guide for coexisting with neighbors