By Glenn Gorrell, PDMP president
The Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania have found a much needed and valued avenue to open and encourage communications with the natural gas industry. And it was needed to address the operating practices on lands being used by both.
The Keystone Energy Forum and PDMP are partnering to open direct communications and educate each other on Marcellus Shale and dairy operations. KEF was formed to improve public understanding of the economic development, job growth and energy independence opportunities of the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves underlying Appalachian basin states.
It includes members from all corners of Pennsylvania with interests as varied as farmers and sportsmen to low income housing advocates. It's not an advocacy organization. It doesn't align [PDMP] with any positions on issues. Instead, it focuses on education, awareness and dialog.
We've learned that our two industries have more in common than ever imagined:
• A deep and sincere concern for the environment and mitigating any adverse effects our industries may have on our air and water quality;
• A huge investment in a volatile market where production varies and can make or break our business;
• An independent and entrepreneurial spirit and insurmountable work ethic;
• Regulatory agencies impact our bottom line and ability to succeed.
• And, both can better plan and coordinate around the operational practices of the other.
For example, until we sat down with gas industry representatives in Bradford County and shared our planting and cutting schedules, they weren't aware that their line installation may be taking out a productive piece of ground at the most inopportune and costly time for the dairy.
Another eye opener for some of gas representatives and contractors was that the land was also leased for crops. And, the property owner doesn't necessarily know [the tenant's plans on a daily basis for that ground.
This knowledge, gleaned from our face-to-face dialog, armed the natural gas companies with an understanding and appreciation for their need to speak directly to the farmer actually using the land, not just the owner. PDMP leadership wants to further this kind of open dialog and information sharing for its members and the dairy industry at large.
The dairy community recognizes the Marcellus Shale's tremendous energy potential and positive impact on so many of our economically distressed communities. But with any good growth, there are often growing pains.
Where the dairy and natural gas industries share the land – a necessity to both industries – we've found that the best way to avoid the pain is to open a direct dialog. By partnering in the Keystone Energy Forum, we hope it will serve as a venue from which to gain knowledge about natural gas drilling and to voice for concerns about the health and safety of people, animals and the environment.