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E-M:/ GR Press covers Livestock factories



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Friends: 

Today's (Nov. 22) Grand Rapids Press has a front page article about the
growing controversy over massive livestock factories.  I assume it is on the
MLIVE web page for the GR Press (http:\\gr.mlive.com) but haven't yet been
able to load it this morning. 

The report includes the information that a family in Midland County has been
granted a 20% reduction in the assessment by their property by the Michigan
Tax Tribunal as a direct result of the smell of a hog barn located 830' from
their back door. If anyone would like to see the actual language of the tax
tribunal decision, let me know and I can fax it to you on Monday. 

One key thing about this story is that you can really get a feel for the
struggle between the massive corporate interests backing these livestock
factories, and the people in a community (both farmers and non-farmers) who
feel trapped by having no good options.  The rep. of High Lean Pork, a
corporation sponsoring some of the new facilities, stresses the economic
impact of these facilities, telling folks suffering from the outrageous smells
and fearing water pollution to jingle the change in their pockets and "think
we have done some things for the area."  Then later in the article he is
quoted suggesting that "Maybe people shouldn't live in that locale. Maybe they
should live in a suburb" saying that if they don't produce hogs this way the
production will move overseas.

By contrast, a farmer focused on in the article, runs his family's farm that
has been in that community for many generations.  Why is he now switching from
techniques that a local official described by saying "Everybody looked at
Marhofers for the show farm" to the exceedingly expensive, concentrated
feeding technology High Lean Pork is urging him to adopt?  Basically, the big
corporations are undercutting this family farmer and pushing him out of the
business if he doesn't adopt their technology.  It makes sense since the MI
Right to Farm Act doesn't require the large, concentrated feeding operations
that produce huge amounts of slurried manure to provide any greater
environmental controls than the family farmer who was doing fine for
generations.  It doesn't seem that the interests of the local community OR the
family farmer is being considered and protected -- only the increasingly large
corporate livestock operations.  These seem to be the equivalent of the
piecework sweatshops of the clothing and other industries -- the farmer here
carries all the costs, the risks, etc., and ends up leaving behind successful
technologies of the past to feed a distant corporate bottomline.

Anne Woiwode



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