Searching for a sense of control: The challenge presented by community conflicts over concentrated animal feeding operations

Nancy A. Welsh, Barbara Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The growth in the number of concentrated animal feeding operations ("CAFOs"), particularly those involved in swine production, has brought with it increased community concern and outright conflict in many communities across the United States. Most commentators have focused upon anticipated outcomes to explain the contentiousness of CAFO-related disputes.2 Meanwhile, even though the social dynamics that contribute to the development and escalation of conflicts over CAFOs parallel those exhibited in other kinds of community conflicts, little research has systematically examined the social dynamics associated with CAFO conflicts. One exception to this deficiency is recent work conducted by a team of researchers that examined CAFO-related disputes in Pennsylvania in order to make recommendations for alternative models for the resolution of such disputes.4 The researchers found that Pennsylvania stakeholders' perceived loss of direct and indirect control in the decision-making processes governing CAFOs was at the root of these conflicts.5 This Article highlights stakeholders' concerns about the procedural fairness of the governmental decision-making surrounding CAFOs, including the negotiation, passage, and implementation of the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Act ("Act 6"); decisions regarding CAFOs' requests for permits; and townships' adoption of CAFO-related ordinances. The Article argues that these perceptions of procedural unfairness are among the primary factors contributing to Pennsylvania stakeholders' perception of loss of control. Alternative mechanisms for the resolution of CAFO-related disputes, therefore, must respond quite explicitly to the need for procedural justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-321
Number of pages27
JournalPenn State Environmental Law Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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