[Market-farming] Animal and neighbor problems

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Wed Mar 30 10:39:29 EDT 2011

On Mar 29, 2011, at 10:28 PM, Mike Rock wrote:

> Wyatt,
> Which fencing law does your state have, right or left hand?  Find out.
> When you or your neighbor views the fence, each is responsible for  
> their half (right or left).  Even if they don't have livestock and  
> you do, they must maintain their half of the fence.

Mike, what state are you in?

I don't think such laws are still in effect in all states; and as  
fencing laws varied by state to begin with, and as many of them  
originally called for the person who had crops to be responsible for  
fencing in the crops, I'd be surprised if every state has a current  
fencing law that works as you describe above. There are often, but not  
always, local regulations about height and location of fences.

I never heard of anyone being required to pay for / install half of a  
fence on someone else's property; though both may be responsible for  
repairs if there's a pre-exising fence that's right on the boundary  

Wyatt, I agree that you need to find out the law in your area. Check  
into fencing law at the state level, the county level, and the  
municipality level (township etc.); there may be multiple laws  
affecting fences in your area, or there may be law at one of the above  
levels even if there isn't at any of the others.

If one of the people you're having fence trouble with is a township  
trustee, this is not a good sign, especially if any relevant law turns  
out to be on the township level. I hope that person is an isolated  
case, and not an indication of the general attitude in that area in  
regards to fencing. How long have you lived there? Do people in that  
area generally expect to allow their pigs and dogs to run loose, with  
the burden of fencing being borne by crop farmers and/or those with  
vulnerable species of livestock? That does seem to have been the  
attitude in much of the country till the late 1800's; maybe that's  
still the way it's expected to be in some places. (For that matter, in  
some areas it's entirely acceptable to shoot the trespassing animals.  
Even if so, I'd advise warning the neighbor first; though it sounds as  
if you've done that. And you might want to check, both whether it's  
legal for you to shoot them, and what the community attitude is, so  
you have an idea of how large a fight you'd be taking on.)

Also, were the fences that were taken down on your land, or right on  
the boundary line? Is there agreement as to where the boundary lines  
are? If what you have is a disagreement as to whose fence it was that  
was taken down, and/or whose the land is that one neighbor keeps using  
as his parking lot, you might need to get a survey done, if one  
doesn't already exist. -- If that neighbor's been using it as his  
parking lot for long enough, he might even have a legal right to do so  
even if it wasn't his land to start with, at least if there was a  
period of enough years during which no one was making any objections  
to this. Laws about this also vary from state to state; look up  
"adverse possession".

I wouldn't keep trying to talk to a neighbor who threatens you. Find  
out what the law is and, presuming it's on your side, call the  
sheriff. (A threat to "punch you out" is very likely illegal in  
itself; but hard to prove, unless he makes it in front of witnesses  
who will testify. I'd tell the sheriff about it, though -- if only so  
that person can be prepared for possible violence.)

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale

More information about the Market-farming mailing list