Dan Fitzsimmons, a dairy farmer in Albany, NY, sees that dairy farmers in Pennsylvania are reaping the benefits and wonders when the deposits underneath his land will be drilled. “I go over the border and see people planting orchards, buying tractors, putting money back in their land. We’d like to do that too, but instead we struggle to pay the taxes and to hang onto our farms.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been temporarily suspended in the state of New York until a 4 year environmental impact review is completed by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Water contamination, unfavorable health affects, and air pollution are the topics of a heated debate over fracking, and whether or not it should take place.
Other farmers in Pennsylvania can shed insight and offer a slightly different opinion on how the shale gas revolution can be detrimental to agriculture. Carol French and Carolyn Knapp, both Pennsylvania dairy farmers, travel to areas where drilling is taking place to inform them of many issues that can arise – including years of agricultural production lost and uncompensated.
Dairy farmers appear to be stuck in the middle and without making enough income to pay their bills, the lease money from shale drilling is appealing.
As the shale industry continues to expand, some farmers will hesitate to move forward on any leases as they attempt to protect themselves and their land. Others will see this as a “life changing” experience to offer a solution to their debts.