Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · CAFO Farmers
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CAFO Farmers

Anne Stanton - December 20th, 2010
CAFO farmers: ‘Our cattle are healthier’
Last week, Northern Express wrote about a confined animal feeding
operation in Mesick. Here, two owners of CAFOs in Alpena and Mount
Pleasant talk about their operations and their value to society.

Confined dairy cows are healthier animals.
So says Corby Werth, a dairy farmer with 185 cows in Alpena, and Jerry
Neyer in Mount Pleasant with 1,000 dairy cattle. They say that confined
animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is a term used for regulatory purposes,
but that CAFOS in Michigan are generally owned by families who have been
farming for generations and take pride in their work. That’s in contrast
to mega-dairies out west, where the largest dairy CAFO in Oregon holds
55,000 milk cows.
Werth and Neyer agreed to explain the operations of a dairy CAFO to the
Express, hoping to shed light on the operations.
Both farmers keep their cattle sheltered from the elements in a facility
with curtains they raise or lower to let in sunshine or block the bluster
of wind and snow. The farmers make it a point to give the cows enough room
to move around and to lie down, in part, because cramming cows into tight
quarters stresses them out, which can lead to illness, udder infections,
and lower profits, Neyer said.
“Some guys will do it (pack them in), but most of us don’t do it or very
much at all. If they don’t have a comfortable place to lay down, they
won’t get the rate of gain as fast as they want.  Not only will the cow
suffer, but so will the producer.”

Although dairy cattle in their CAFOs don’t get to walk around in a sunny
pasture, they are healthier, eat a more balanced diet with nutrient
supplements, and are less likely to be caked with mud or manure, which
means cleaner milk for the consumer, Neyer said.
A dairy cow begins her working life at the age of two, beginning with
artificial insemination, which is actually less dangerous for both the cow
and farm workers, Werth said.
“A bull in the pen, they are big and not exactly easy on animals.
Sometimes they can kill the cow,” said Werth, whose grandpa was killed by
a bull.
As for those who are concerned about bovine growth hormone that increases
milk production, Werth and Neyer are among virtually all dairy farmers in
the state who have voluntarily pledged not to use it. But neither farmer
believes it’s really harmful to humans.  “It’s a hormone that’s naturally
occurring in a cow, and it was an extra amount we gave to them when their
hormone levels naturally dipped lower in the cycle. I considered it
greener because you’re making more milk with less animal,” Werth said.
Once the calf is born, it’s removed from the mother and bottle fed with
powdered milk. The calf must be separated in order for the mother to be
commercially milked, the farmers explained.
“What happens to the calves on our farm is they are kept with other calves
in an individual pen, bedded with the straw. They are kept with the mother
for an hour, and she’s able to lick it off.” Werth said. “The big reason
we do that is for the safety of the calf. The cows, when they get up and
going, the calf automatically wants to nurse. So it’s for the safety of
the animal, the cow knocking the calf down, stepping on the calf. That’s
why we remove it.”

Male calves are typically sold to a beef farm, while the females are kept
to later provide milk. Farmers milk the cows twice a day in a mechanized
milking parlor—usually producing about 6 to 10 gallons a day per cow,
about two and half times the amount of milk as they did in the 1950s.
Females have a nine-month gestation and are kept pregnant most of their
lives in order to keep milk production going. On average, they give birth
to a calf once a year. Once they stop producing milk, they are normally
slaughtered and sold for beef. If antibiotics are given to the animal in
the case of illness, they cannot be slaughtered or sold until 30 days
afterward to ensure the medicine has been flushed out of the cow’s system.
Like all dairy farmers, Werth and Neyer said they don’t routinely
administer antibiotics, only doing so when an animal is sick. (In
contrast, beef cattle and pigs are routinely administered low levels of
antibiotics daily at most CAFOs in order to promote growth.)
Critics believe it’s cruel to keep a cow nearly constantly pregnant and
milking. But Neyer doesn’t agree.
“Nature’s that way, out there in the wild,” Neyer said, adding that deer
have fawns once a year. “Your pets would do that all the time if you
didn’t get them neutered or spayed. It’s a natural thing. It’s not
unnatural to have a calf every year.”

Critics contend that this style of intensive milking leads to a shorter
life span for the cow, averaging two to seven years.  Organizations, like
the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter also have qualms with the potential
environmental impact of dairy CAFOs, such as manure spillovers to
groundwater, rivers, streams, drinking wells, land, and air--the stench of
the larger CAFOs is often very nasty and can burn nostrils and raise havoc
with asthma sufferers.
CAFO manure is typically used to fertilize the fields of corn and hay,
which is fed to the cattle. Although this is a long-time and traditional
farm practice, the amount of manure from larger CAFOs is vast and the
nutrient load can overwhelm available fields. Manure from a CAFO is often
a brew of growth hormones, antibiotics,and chemicals used to clean the
facilities. The manure can also contain dangerous pathogens, such as
e-coli, according to the website of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, the
state’s most active CAFO opponent.
Dairy cow manure may also contain birthing fluids and blood, milkhouse
wastes,  and copper sulfate that’s used in the footbaths for cows before
they are led into the milking parlor.
Werth, who has had no environmental problems, said they scrape the manure
into a lagoon, which has a solid cement floor with plastic side walls.
“It’s completely contained like a swimming pool. We irrigate it into the
fields for nutrients,” he said. “There is no chance of contamination
Phil Durst, a Michigan State University extension agent in Mio, said
organic wastes such as placentas pose no concern since they are  naturally
broken down by bacteria. Copper and sulfur—the two elements in copper
sulfate—occur in soil and don’t create a problem that he’s aware of. He
believes the excretion of growth hormones or antibiotics are in amounts
too small to be of concern, although neither is tested in manure before
The biggest threat to the environment is to overload fields with manure.
Too much nitrogen and phosphorous will contaminate groundwater. Therefore,
the manure is analyzed for the content of both elements before it’s
applied to fields, Durst said.
“It’s really important to manage manure and nutrients well. I find that
farmers are conscious of that,” he said.

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