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E-M:/ So called Farmland Preservation



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Enviro-Mich message from melmoth <melmoth@dmci.net>
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Dear Enviro-Mich,
MDA, MDEQ, Farm Bureau, MSU and producer associations  are seriously
jeopardizing future plans for Farmland Preservation by refusing to
address the realities of agricultural pollution, particularly animal
agriculture pollution from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,(
CAFOs) and by letting the process of  preserving farmland be hijacked by
proponents of industrial agriculture, with no input from rural
residents, or the public at large. The promoters of so called Farmland
Preservation in Michigan, are depending on the public supporting any
plan that preserves farmland, no matter how flawed.

Farmland Preservation in Michigan has shifted from the state government
to local governments. Counties and townships are expected to set up
their own boards and criteria and provide matching funds with state
funds. A complex point system based on agricultural capacity,
development pressure, zoning, closeness to preserved land, is used to
decide what parcels are eligible for purchase of development rights. No
discussion on conservation practices.
 The complicated point system mentioned above favors purchasing
development rights of large blocks of land instead of smaller parcels as
owned by small family farms.  There is a desire to create "Agricultural
Security Zones" displacing rural residents, rural businesses and small
farms with large blocks of land for industrial agriculture.
The concern with "Agricultural Security Zones" and  Concentrated Animal
feeding Operations or large blocks of land for industrial agricultural
operations, besides the obvious; odor, water pollution, noise and
residential rural displacement, are the devastating effects such
agriculture has on the rural landscape. I have witnessed large blocks of
trees, bulldozed out of these fields, fence rows of native vegetation
destroyed, massive tiling of fields, dredging of drains, which in
reality are streams that drain large fields. Erosion has greatly
increased with these large operations. Vegetative buffer strips get
smaller and in many of the fields are nonexistent. Fields are worked in
wet and saturated conditions. Few cover crops or plant residue stay in
fields over winter, exposing the soil to wind and erosion. What was once
an area of diverse agriculture is now monoculture with the sterility and
pollution of such enterprises. Is this what the citizens of Michigan
want to do with their tax dollars? Is this how you preserve farmland?
The shift to "local preservation boards" has some major problems. In our
area of Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties, local government officials are
often proponents of  Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and benefit
directly and indirectly from industrial animal agriculture. Small
farmers, rural residents and businesses not involved with CAFOs or
agribusiness, fear voicing their concerns or opposition. Township
officials are neighbors with the power of taxation. Talking with an
owner of a small dairy farm, I learned the family was in favor of
preserving farms, individual farms, just not large blocks of farmland
that favor industrial CAFOs.
In our area, one large landowner, who rents ground and brokers land for
a CAFO, received a "Farmland Development Rights Easement payment of
$794,957. He is also a township supervisor.
Ignoring agricultural pollution coupled with no local control (or any
control) of agribusiness and lack of enforcement of environmental laws
has led many local residents, farmers and non farmers to question
farmland preservation plans.

Those of us who are small farmers, doctors, nurses, bed and breakfast
owners, nurseries, vegetable growers, truck farmers, many of us will
oppose Farmland Preservation, if our concerns for a clean, healthy,
diverse, sustainable rural environment are not addressed.
Sincerely,
Kathy Melmoth, farmer




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