It’s neither fun nor wise for rural communities to experience ongoing conflict related to odors from farming. The example of hog farming in Iowa provides a look at a conflict resolution tool called CAM (Community Assessment Model for Odor Dispersion). The model takes into account local conditions (weather, neighbors, other sources, etc), and provides a process by which rural residents and farm operators come to terms on decisions to expand or build a new facility. The actual cost of running the CAM model is roughly $1,000 per site, mainly ISU extension and faculty salaried time. 75% of the producers surveyed rated the modeling as “useful” to “very useful” in their risk management process. The evaluation showed that the CAM model influenced producers’ decision on whether to build new facilities. For the majority of producers who used CAM, the potential impacts to their neighbors factored heavily into decisions. To that end CAM was believed to be very important to their siting process. A high majority (95%) of the producers clearly understood the model results. Over half of the producers in turn communicated these results to their neighbors of which one third were considered positive interactions. Overall, for producers who went on to build at sites that were modeled there was a significant improvement in neighbor relations.
Rural residents were surveyed about their attitudes about the swine industry and modeling. It was found that people acknowledge the importance of the pork industry but have concerns about the environment and impact on property values. In general they believe that rural residents should have tolerance of odors and that large facilities, with proper management, can be environmentally benign. There are some concerns for the rights of rural property owners. The willingness to tolerate odors is a key model input. More than one third of those surveyed (39%) thought that an exposure to strong odors should be less than1/2%, or 30 minutes every 4 days. When asked about moderate odors, 22% felt it should be less than 30 minutes, with 34% feeling that over 2 hours every 4 days would be acceptable.