Sep 15, 2010

Justice for the Farmer

If you don't like the smell of manure, don't move to the country.

BC farmers just won a precedent-setting case, in which an "I love to live in the romantic country" family brought a farmer to court because his animals were too noisy and stinky for them. It was a potentially dangerous case for all of us - if they had won, it would pave the way for people to restrict reasonable farm practices. My neighbours could possibly take me to court because they doesn't like to see my cows out their window or hear my rooster crowing at dawn.

The court not only backed up farmers' rights to farm, but it seemingly went out of its way to make clear the importance of farming and freedom to farm. Big sigh of relief for all of us wanting to live up to our Agricultural Land Reserve farm status and provide food for our community.

Excerpt from Feehan v Ferguson (August 17, 2010), (British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board). Victoria, BC

“ 70. In conclusion, the panel heard no evidence of any kind to suggest that any of Mr. Ferguson’s practices on his farm were anything but good farm management and that he is using best practices for a small, integrated farm to maximize the output on his marginal land. We believe this type of farm should be encouraged.

71.In our opinion, to prevent future disputes such as this one from arising and causing major distress to all parties concerned, people buying property in the Agriculture Land Reserve need to understand that agriculture is the primary activity of the area and that agriculture involves animals and animal sounds. It may also involve smells and dust from the operation. Living within the ALR also means that what is a sheep or llama farm today may become a chicken or hog farm tomorrow. This commonly happens in farming areas when circumstances change. Unfortunately, the seeming tranquility of rural areas is attractive to families until they experience the realities of farming, at which time they often feel betrayed.

The Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act was put into place to provide a balanced approach to give neighbours a venue to complain when aggrieved by farming practices. At the same time, it protects farmers from these complaints when they are carrying on “normal farm practices” and taking reasonable actions to mitigate neighbour complaints.

72. Section 6 of the Act provides that a panel must dismiss a complaint if it is of the opinion that the odour, noise, dust or other disturbance results from a normal
farm practice, and must order a farmer to cease the practice that causes the odour, noise, dust or other disturbance if it is not a normal farm practice, or to modify the practice in the manner set out in the order, to be consistent with normal farm practice.

73. Given that we have found that Dan Ferguson of Dragonfly Farm is conducting his business according to normal farm practices, the complaint is dismissed.


  1. In Kelowna years ago a new development went in next door to a small pig farm near our place. Someone who bought a house that backed on to it lodged complaints to the city repeatedly about the smell if they opened their windows.
    Not sure if the complaints and sale of the farm were related because the city kept saying they were not going to do anything official, but the pig farmer eventually got rid of them.
    But hello? You buy next door to a pig farm and think you have a right to complain????

  2. What a crazy lawsuit! We moved next to a train track and would never dream of complaining about the trains. In Wisconsin, some fancy pants lawyer moved to a lake and then complained about the boating and water skiers.

    This past weekend at a family reunion on a relative's lovely Illinois farm, the wind started up and a manure smell wafted in. My aunt commented that in the past that aroma always referred to as "the smell of money".