Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

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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