Citizen complaints and environmental regulation of Michigan livestock operations

J. C. Hadrich, C. A. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Citizen environmental complaints filed against agricultural producers in Michigan were examined to determine farm and community factors influencing citizen complaints and the subsequent response of the farmer. Secondary citizen environmental complaint data were obtained from the Michigan Department of Agriculture from 1998 to 2007 with 1,289 observations. Citizen complaints were grouped into 5 categories: odor, surface water, ground water, combination, and other complaints. Complaints were further classified as nonverified or verified where verified meant that the inspected farm was not complying with relevant generally accepted agricultural and management practices. These data were used to examine how farm characteristics affected the likelihood of a verified complaint. Odor and surface water complaints accounted for 75% of all complaints. A probit regression analysis was used to estimate the probability of a verified complaint as a function of complaint type, farm characteristics, county characteristics, and seasonal factors. Results from the probit regression analysis revealed that larger operations, poultry, and hog farms received more nonverified complaints than other livestock farms. Surface water issues were 17% more likely to be verified complaints compared with odor issues, of which the surface water complaints often originated from sources other than neighbors. In contrast, odor issues were more likely to result from accepted management practices requiring no mitigation. Farms that received a verified citizen complaint were required to mitigate the complaint by implementing corrective practices. A log-level (log Y) regression was used to evaluate how farm characteristics influenced the cost to implement corrective practices on those farms receiving a verified citizen complaint. Costs to implement corrective practices to mitigate verified complaints were greatest for dairy operations and surface water complaints. Corrective practices required to mitigate a surface water complaint were predicted to cost 46% more than an odor complaint with an estimated average cost of $7,442. The most expensive practices were associated with manure incorporation, stream bank fencing, and controlling runoff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-286
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Complaint
  • Environmental compliance
  • Livestock
  • Manure disposal


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