What is the impact on the farming communities / livestock?

As MSC CEO Kathryn Klaber has said, “The agriculture community is a key partner in the responsible development of clean-burning natural gas.” Klaber added, following the 97th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show this year, “Our industry is grateful for and proud of the strong, working relationships that we continue to build across the agriculture community. This is a unique partnership, given our shared goals of responsible land development and producing commodities that benefit the regional economy.”

And this commitment to our region’s agricultural community is further demonstrated in a host of recent news articles, such as these (and please be sure to read these facts):

  • “Shale Drilling Changes Prospects for American Dream”: Once a dairy farmer, then a construction worker who waited tables at night, George Laird, 67, dreaded the day he would have to sell off sections of his 159-acre farm in Auburn Twp. in order to retire. Now that several Marcellus Shale wells are pulling gas from beneath his property, he is making enough money to save for his children’s retirement. “I think everyone dreams of getting a lottery ticket that would win a million dollars,” he said, flipping through pages of royalty stubs. “This is so much better than a lottery ticket because you’re winning every month.” Marcellus Shale development in Susquehanna County has helped the lucky and the shrewd achieve aspects of the American Dream that might otherwise have been outside their reach: large landowners are holding on to their property and profiting from it, entrepreneurs are starting businesses or expanding them and leaseholders are retiring comfortably a few years early. (Independent Weekender, 3/20/13)
  • Marcellus Shale Supply Chain Benefits “Are Easy to See”: Driving through the south-western corner of the state, the benefits of this “shale gale” are easy to see. New roofs, fences, barns and tractors have sprouted on many local farms; plenty of shiny new pick-up trucks ply the roads. By one estimate, Pennsylvanians who allow drilling on their land earned some $1.2 billion in royalties last year. Suburban office parks are proliferating outside Pittsburgh, the biggest city in the area, with space being snapped up by oil firms, their suppliers and subcontractors, lawyers and environmental consultants. Even the most basic restaurants are overflowing at lunchtime, a local complains. … Cheap gas is also translating into cheap electricity, since America’s marginal power supplies tend to come from gas-fired plants. … Indeed, cheap energy is cited as one factor by those who predict a manufacturing renaissance in America. (The Economist, 3/16/13)
  • Western Pa. Farmer: “Natural gas a win-win”: The natural gas wells are not about financial gain or greed, but about the farms being able to pay for themselves. It’s a chance for farmers to update worn-out equipment, repair and replace old buildings and do the needed maintenance to keep the farm going for future generations. Signing a gas lease was not a quick or easy decision. Anybody who knows my father knows he is not quick to make any type of decision. I know there were at least five years of research and planning put forth in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of everyone, not just the landowners. I also know the gas drilling company and MarkWest did an outstanding job meeting my parents’ demands and answering their concerns. If the people who are so upset with the wells were given the same opportunity as us, they would do exactly the same as we did in order to preserve their farm. It is time to move forward because I am part of the generation that realizes we will need natural gas to survive. We as a community need to start thinking toward the future as everyone will gain from it in one way or another. It’s a definite win-win not just for the farmer or landowner, but everyone. I think we all need to keep one thought in mind: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” (Washington Observer-Reporter LTE, 1/30/13)
  • “Local Farmers Becoming Marcellus Millionaires”: All of his life, Mike Krajacic has coaxed a hard scrabble existence out of this 140-acre dairy farm in Avella, Washington County. But with natural gas drilling going on in upper field, he says hard times are over. … “I’ll make more money out of that field in one year than I made in 82 years of farming,” Krajacic said. He’s not alone. Dozens of farmers throughout Washington, Fayette and Greene counties are now collecting royalties. … “What we are doing is we are preserving open space in rural communities,” Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said. In the past five years, Range itself has paid out nearly $1 billion of royalty to landowners in our region — many of them farmers. … “You’re infusing very responsible people with large sums of money and they’re going preserve that land for many years to come,” Pitzarella said. “So I view this as a big win of the environment.” (KDKA-TV, 2/18/13)
  • Western Pa. Farmer Says Natural Gas Industry “Have Been Great” to Work With: Less than a mile south of the Grange Hall, Range was punching its latest hole into the Marcellus Shale on Rich and Bonnie Moore’s farm. … The Moore’s two nonadjacent farms will soon be joined by that same pipeline that will cross Campbell’s farm. “The people from Range and Markwest have been great,” said Bonnie Moore. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do.” And that pipeline, Hanover resident Jim Shoup says, is leading toward the future. … Shell Oil and other chemical companies are building and re-fitting plants along the Ohio River in Beaver County to take advantage of the multiple uses of the multiple products that come from Marcellus gas. It’s these jobs that Shoup says he hopes will create opportunity for his grandchildren. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Shoup said. “It’s what’s to come that will have the biggest impact on this area. All these smart kids who are going to school now to get jobs in the Pittsburgh hospitals will, 10 years from now, be going to school for chemical engineering and things like that.” (Lancaster Farming, 2/16/13)
  • Williamsport Sun-Gazette Editorial: Suddenly, the land of dairy farmers and other property owners in Pennsylvania, particularly the large rural tracts, became very attractive to natural gas companies. How attractive? Well, the royalty payments to property owners from gas companies could top $1.2 billion for 2012. Those payments have transformed the lives of many rural Pennsylvania property owners, a lot of them in our region. No more living off credit cards. No longer living paycheck to paycheck. For farmers using 30-year-old equipment, unable to afford the debt from a new purchase, life has changed with these royalty payments. Now, they can keep their equipment up to date and no longer worry about the next breakdown every day. “It’s a lot more fun to farm,” said Shawn Georgetti, a dairy farmer 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. (2/12/13)