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E-M:/ MSU asked to Address Harm caused by Livestock Factories

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>

Three professionals, including an MD and an RN from Lenawee County have
written to MSU President Peter McPherson and the Board of Trustees appealing
to them to create a task force of diverse faculty to "provide a context to
confront and remediate -- not ignore--the disastrous environmental impacts
in Michigan communities with Confined Animal Feeding Operations."  The
letter, printed in its entirety below, points out MSU's Dr. Jekyl and Mr.
Hyde characteristics on this issue, noting that livestock factory "waste
systems in our area are closer to 19th century practices than 21st century.
Milk technologies may be state-of-the-art, but manure technologies as touted
by MSU researchers are rudimentary: dig a hole, fill it up, spray or pump
manure on the ground."

I think we will ALL be eager to see how Michigan's largest public university
responds to this request!  Kudos to Dr. Leland Wolf, Dr. Janet Kaufman and
Kathy Melmoth for putting the onus where it belongs on livestock factories!!

Anne Woiwode


									28 August 2001
President Peter McPherson and MSU Trustees
450 Administrative Bldg
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Dear President McPherson and MSU Trustees:

We are a medical doctor, a professor, and a registered nurse, from the
Hudson, MI, area, bordering Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties, where 9 Confined
Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)– 9 industrial dairies – have been built
within the last 3 years.  We have seen our agricultural community, known for
its clean air and clean water, suddenly put at risk, degraded by pollutants
from these facilities, which confine 700-3,000 cows each and collect manure
in 1-15 million gallon waste lagoons.

This letter is an appeal to the President and Trustees of Michigan State
University to request that Dean Jeffrey Armstrong create a Task Force of
faculty within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, MSU
Extension, Natural Science, Human Medicine, to promote an environmental
context for agricultural research and policy.  Such a Task Force could be
charged, as in North Carolina universities, with researching, developing,
and promoting alternatives to the current polluting systems of Confined
Animal Feeding Operations.  Such a Task Force would provide a context to
confront and remediate – not ignore – the disastrous environmental impacts
in Michigan communities with Confined Animal Feeding Operations.

MSU promotes its green campus, its commitment to the environment.  Numerous
researchers at MSU have studied environmental risks and water resource
protection, including faculty in Natural Science (see attached David T. Long
et. al, abstract from USGS technical proceedings on Effects of Animal
Feeding Operations on Water Resources and the Environment, p. 74).

Yet for years, MSU’s Construction Design Program, Biosystems Engineering,
MSU Extension, and others have researched and promoted CAFOs, and done
little to research or promote alternative waste-handling systems, or to
inform decision-makers of the critical impact on watersheds, on surface and
groundwater, on air, in the agricultural communities where these facilities
locate.  Other areas, such as North Carolina, have seen the risks,
responded, and challenged their land-grant institutions to find alternatives
to the manure lagoon systems to achieve a phase-out of lagoons over 5 years.
It is crucial that MSU do the same.

We are distressed that MSU has not taken the initiative, not moved to the
forefront in agricultural design and alternative waste handling systems, and
not collaborated across departments to ensure that watershed issues and
other environmental concerns are addressed.  CAFO waste systems in our area
are closer to 19th century practices than 21st century.  Milk technologies
may be state-of-the-art, but manure technologies as touted by MSU
researchers are rudimentary: dig a hole, fill it up, spray or pump manure on
the ground.

Numerous MSU faculty served on this year’s Michigan Department of
Agriculture’s Site Selection GAAMPs (Generally Accepted Agricultural
Management Practices) Committee, including Dr. Maynard Hogberg as Chair.
Yet watershed questions were not addressed – How many facilities may be
safely sited in one sub-watershed?  In areas like ours, with high water
tables, how deep may lagoons be dug, without risk to groundwater?  Who will
assure that facilities, lagoons, are not built adjacent to streams, or on
(as in one case here) a County Drain?  Who will ask and answer these, and
many other, critical resource questions if not university voices?  Who
should know better?

We have not had Hurricane Floyd, as in North Carolina, flooding lagoons.
That’s true.  But the risks to watersheds and water resources are
nonetheless extreme in Michigan, this state of invaluable lakes and rivers.

Here is what we have had in the Hudson area.  In 2000-2001, we have had 7
illegal discharges of manure and other pollutants to our watersheds from 7
different facilities (DEQ Notice Letters attached).  Two lagoons have
experienced cracks or seepage.  The air quality during too many days of the
year, especially within 3-4 miles of the facilities – which means just about
the entire area around Hudson – is fouled with liquid manure stench and its
gasses and particulates.  The amount of untreated liquid manure applied to
this area equals the sewage of a city of 200,000.

There is voluminous scientific data on the degradation of soils, water, and
air from CAFOs (see attached materials with references).  In addition, there
are particular construction and systems concerns with these facilities.
Subsequent to illegal discharges, Michigan DEQ and federal EPA inspections
found “design flaws” in some of these facilities, with floor drains directly
connecting to tiles, through which contaminated water reached area streams.

A USDA Air Quality Research White Paper and Recommendations for CAFOs
(Executive Summary, July 2000 attached) documents air quality and health
risks associated with CAFOs.  The report recommends further research into
“relationships among odor, odorants, particulates and airborne microbial
species,” development of accurate measurement technologies for odor and fine
particulates, and strategies to “ensure these systems become widely
available.” Other studies are concerned with bacterial contamination of
surface and groundwaters, with the use and overuse of antibiotics as
preventatives in confined animal facilities and the related public health
problem – critical and much-publicized now – of bacterial resistance to

The risks to watersheds and public health posed by CAFOs and lagoon systems
of manure-handling have not been addressed by MSU faculty as part of
consultation with the Department of Agriculture in Site Selection
discussions, for instance.  Voluntary programs such as MAEAP (Michigan
Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program), are promoted by MSU
Extension, although no facility here has participated.  Such MSU
participation, as researchers in “sound science,” is a farce, the process a
sham, meant only to promote the industrial livestock industry and the
placement of CAFO facilities anywhere.  That is exactly what has happened
here – facilities have sited themselves anywhere.  Near streams and
wetlands, on County Drains, 9 facilities in the headwaters of two
watersheds, one of which includes Lake Hudson State Park, where the largest
manure discharge, in March 2000, contaminated Lake Hudson with 12 million
gallons of polluted water.

Where are your voices?  Who benefits from MSU research?  The citizens of the
state? – with our precious agricultural lands, soils, water resources?  Or a
few operators – the largest – within the livestock industry?

Dr. William Bickert recently noted in Michigan Farm News that, “society now
has environmental concerns and we are changing our views on manure
management.”  It is encouraging to see that change in viewpoint.  However,
without alternatives to the lagoon system, the environmental risks will
remain.  Dr. Bickert states on his web page that his “focus is on developing
designs for dairy facilities that enhance dairy farm profitability.”  That’s
fine, as far as it goes.  But MSU serves the public, the citizens of the
state; and agricultural designs, facilities, and waste systems, must enhance
the health of us all, must protect our invaluable water and air and farmland
resources, not just enhance one part of one industry’s profitability – at
our expense.

We are calling on legislators for a moratorium on construction of CAFOs in
Michigan, and for an immediate phase-out of lagoon waste-handling systems.

We call on you and Dean Armstrong to create a Task Force for the Environment
in Agriculture, bringing together appropriate MSU faculty, including
fisheries, watershed, epidemiology, public health, and natural science
researchers as well as agricultural researchers, to promote an environmental
context for all agricultural research and policy.


Janet Kauffman, Ph.D.
     14671 W. Cadmus Road
     Hudson, MI 49247
Kathy Melmoth, R. N.
     11360 Union Road
     Pittsford, MI 49271
Leland Wolf, M.D.
     14511 Squawfield Road
     Hudson, MI 49247

Anne Woiwode, Staff Director
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108

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