The paper addresses the relationship between agricultural spills and environmental complaints filed by citizens against agriculture. It also determines the influence of other factors on the likelihood of both farm spills and complaints within a region. The relationships have been estimated using a unique data set containing the number of spills and complaints along with regional data such as the stringency of environmental regulations and socio-economic variables. Different environmental regulations do appear to have an effect on the spills and complaints. By-laws on the size of manure storage facility in relation to the number of livestock housed influence the likelihood of spills within a region. Larger storages decrease the number of annual manure applications and thus the opportunity for runoff. While the required distance between a new barn and a waterway appears to have no effect on the likelihood of spills, it does decrease the probability of complaints being lodged against agriculture. Increases in the percentage of the regions zoned as agriculture also decreases the likelihood of complaining. Together the results suggest that distance between livestock producers and both environmentally sensitive areas and people are an effective means to reduce conflicts between farmers and the local community. Another policy question raised in the study was the effectiveness of using citizen complaints as an information tool in addressing environmental quality issues surrounding agriculture. There is a positive, albeit weak, positive influence between spills in a region and the number of complaints. Complaints could be used to indicate problem areas but the information signal will be noisy. Regulators will have to be aware that such complaints are more likely to come from wealthy areas when deciding upon how to react to complaints.


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