All too often, when a company wants to locate or expand in a certain geographical area, the people who live near there don’t learn of it until a related hearing makes its way onto the agenda of a local zoning board, city council or county commission.

Then, the people from the NIMBY (not in my back yard) movement, and the CAVE (citizens against virtually everything) people come to those meetings in droves, normally quite angry.

There’s a common question that arises: Why all the secrecy?

And when people question a company’s transparency on expansion plans, they are also apt to question its transparency on issues involving food safety, animal welfare, and the list goes on.

Luckily, nobody can accuse Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch of being secretive about its hopes to expand in the area of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.

Herbruck’s website shows effort to be transparent

On April 20, Herbruck’s posted what it referred to as a special message on its website. In that message, the egg company offers background on the company, and reveals that it is considering an expansion in the Mercersburg area.

However, it assures the readers that the plan is not final and bringing the plans into fruition depends on partnerships with community members.

“As we consider potential growth in the Mercersburg area, we want to be sure to communicate regularly to members of the community. We are committed to working in close partnership with community leaders, local businesses, and farmers across the agricultural supply chain as we evaluate options for the future.  We believe that any new farming operation must be a “win-win” for the community in terms of job creation and local economic development,” the company stated on its website.

Additionally, Herbruck’s left an email address to which people with questions can ask them.

A secondary page, linked to on the “special message” page, explains the company’s plans to construct poultry barns in the area to house cage-free and organic laying hens. Herbruck’s explains why it chose the Mercersburg area as a potential region in which it would like to expand, and how many jobs it would expect to provide if the project comes into fruition.

Animal welfare and the environment

Typically, the biggest concerns people have regarding expansion of any animal agriculture operation are those of an environmental nature.

Herbruck’s, in both written text and a video message, explains that it will strive to minimize those impacts and highlights its technology to process hen litter into organic fertilizer on site, which it says will reduce odors while creating a product that could benefit local farmers.

A secondary concern from neighbors is often whether the company follows good animal welfare practices. Herbruck’s also addresses its philosophy on its website, stating “We serve the bird. The bird doesn’t serve us.”

Time frame for potential expansion

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch has not revealed any time frame as to when it might start construction, as it wants to make sure it has taken the time needed to work with community leaders and members, as well as local businesses. It vowed to provide regular updates on the website and through the local media.

Will the community embrace company’s plans?

There is no doubt there will be some people apprehensive to see Herbruck’s expand its operations near the Pennsylvania community. However, one encouraging sign is that I have seen no published reports of people voicing their opposition.

Opponents may surface on May 5, as Public Opinion Online reported that the Montgomery Township will meet that evening, and that officials from Herbruck’s are expected to give a presentation on the plans.

If people have concerns, they should feel free to express them. However, let’s hope the dialogue is kept civil, as Herbruck’s has done an excellent job about being open with the public about its plans – such a nice job that I hope other companies with expansion plans can look to Herbruck’s as a good example.