Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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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