Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · The Big Pig Out
. . . .

The Big Pig Out

Gayle Miller - January 18th, 2007
When wealthy developers purchased land just north of a lovely Michigan town, citizens were curious. Will it be a new
subdivision? An industrial park? After many inquiries, the residents learn the worst: the new “development” in Gratiot County will be a hog factory, home to 2,000 stinking pigs.
Smashed together like sausages, the hogs will eat, poop and give birth within huge buildings sitting atop enormous pits of manure. Exhaust fans will run 24-7 to vent toxic fumes that would otherwise kill the pigs. When the manure pits are full, the untreated sewage will be dumped on nearby fields.
Promoters tell residents that hog factories bring economic prosperity. Doing their own research, however, citizens find study after study documenting economic decline and plummeting property values caused by animal factory pollution. They learn about groundwater contamination, fish kills, rivers polluted with fecal bacteria, and stench so bad it can cause spontaneous vomiting.
The community organizes. They distribute fliers, meet in overcrowded gymnasiums and consult experts. They ask the planning commission to deny building permits. They try to change the zoning. They plead with the health department. They petition the city. They consult attorneys.
What they learn is this: Because of the protections offered to farms (even factory farms) under the Right to Farm Act,
communities are powerless to stop animal factories. Those same protections also shield animal factories from liability for harm to human health or loss of property value resulting from their pollution. Welcome to Alma – future home of Sietsma Hog factory.
In another part of Michigan, a similar tale unfolds. Lenawee County residents living near the state’s most polluting dairy factory farm watch in horror as the operators dig yet another gigantic sewage lagoon. Soon, the facility will be able to store more than 70 million gallons of sewage.
The state has charged the dairy’s operators with more than 75 water quality violations. The operators were finally required to install a $1 million sewage treatment system. It isn’t working - and area streams continue to flow with raw sewage.
Recent notices from the State Attorney General and state regulators note that the situation at Vreba Hoff Dairy has “deteriorated substantially over the last few months.” Despite continuing violations and extreme environmental pollution, the state does nothing to protect public health. Welcome to the town of Hudson.
Think these stories have nothing to do with northern, lower Michigan? Think again.
Michigan is in frenzy to build corn-based ethanol plants, a number of which have been proposed for northwest Michigan. Ethanol plants produce a byproduct which can be fed to cows and pigs. So, where ethanol plants go, animal factories follow. Where animal factories go, severe pollution follows. Welcome to reality.
Under current Michigan law, animal factories are considered farms and receive the same protections as farms. This needs to change. As long as animal factories receive exemptions under Right to Farm, Michigan will continue to be plagued by animal factory pollution, and communities will be powerless to protect themselves. Think that animal factories won’t show up in northern Michigan? Think again.
Do you want a hog factory in your backyard? If not, tell Senators Jason Allen and Michelle McManus and Representatives Howard Walker and David Palsrock to change the Right to Farm Act. Animal factories need to be regulated like the polluting industries they are, and communities need to be able to say NO.

Gayle Miller is the legislative director for the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter.
 
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