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Re: E-M:/ Tragic loss of family farm to a mega-dairy



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Enviro-Mich message from "Grant Trigger" <GTrigger@honigman.com>
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Bill

Until the end most of what you said is right on - the size of a farm can look corporate without being corporate and a farmer who does it right does not hide behind the "hat"  My brother farms 800 acres and had to borrow money this spring to buy fertilizer and seed.  Just because a farm is generating pollution does not excuse it - but my concern is too broad a brush the other way - lets not make all farmers appear guilty just because they have a large operation - and frankly 800 acres really is not large any more.  I suggest those in this debate drive up M-53 through Imlay City toward Bad Axe and count the number of closed animal feedlots - they cannot make any money so they close - the only ones who can make any money are large - or animal feed operations are nothing more than a hobby - So how do we support farming with good agricultural practices and avoid these problems?  And finally the "family farm" as it has been viewed does not exist anymore - a small operation that everyone has a part in - the bills cannot even be paid - so in these changing times how do we support farming and not make em all seem like corporate "slobs"  (Bill - your word not mine)

>>> "William Tobler" <WilliamTobler@CrittersWoods.org> 05/02/02 10:14PM >>>
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Enviro-Mich message from "William Tobler" <WilliamTobler@CrittersWoods.org>
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Admittedly, American farming is difficult these days.  Prices are low and
expenses high.  Politicians and lawyers have created an estate planning
situation that is difficult for the average person to understand, or
negotiate without purchasing expensive services back from politicians and
lawyers, often too late.  Why should it be nearly impossible for the family
farm to be passed on to successive generations in order to maintain a
successful farm?  Apparently it was difficult, even for Grant.

I have a love of the family farm and of the "country and small town life".
I believe that the family farm is being decimated by taxes, growth, and
regulation.  I am all for quickly seeking solutions for these dilemmas.

However, as the "family" farm becomes larger and larger, it begins to lose
its aura as it becomes a corporation.  The love affair is gone as corporate
profits at any expense become the quest.  The love affair is gone as the
concept of cattle grazing in a pasture is replaced by filthy feedlots oozing
with manure and with sick and injured livestock living in horrible
conditions.  Do I want to subsidize these operations with my dollars?  Not a
chance.

The patriarch of the family farm can be a model conservationist, and to have
as a goal to pass on his heritage to his family.  The owner of the corporate
farm is looking at the bottom line of the ledger sheet and rarely looks
beyond next year (in my opinion).  A farmer CAN be a conservationist, but it
doesn't follow that a farmer IS a conservationist.  I resent the notion that
if one wears a farmers cap, that he MUST be a conservationist and a great
guy.

I know differently, because I have plenty of examples around me.

It might be one thing if a "farmer" operated a feedlot and contained the
filth, disease and poison upon his own property.  It is quite another matter
when this "farmer" allows this to flow into streams, leach into wells, foul
up the air, and contaminate and destroy nature well off his land.  I resent
the notion that he should be allowed to hide behind his farmer's badge as a
symbol to make this behavior acceptable.

It doesn't follow that a financially successful farmer is a good farmer.
Nor does it follow that a good farmer is financially poor (but perhaps today
this is closer to the truth).  It is interesting and instructive to pull off
of the internet the dollar subsidies obtained from the government to each
farm, and then relate each farm to its owner, and then determine the
political "activities" of each owner.  In SE Michigan, it is not pretty what
you learn from this.  Many millions of dollars in subsidies are going to
help strengthen the development "rights" of these wannabe snowbirds, in the
name of preserving farms (what a farce).

I am all for developing the "environment" to promote the survival of farming
and countryside, but not at the expense of pollution, poison and suffering,
and making rich snowbirds.

Quite frankly the following statement rings very hollow to me:  "we just
have different ideas as to how best to achieve truely environmentally
beneficial results, that can be economically viable, and consistent with the
rights and freedoms of the citizens of this great country."  It smacks of
the current DEQ motto, which is a resounding failure.  Economic viability is
used over and over again as an excuse to be a sloppy polluter.  Viability is
confused with dollars and more dollars.  Dollars are put first, second and
third, and common sense environment and social justice is put last.

I often wonder how Ken and Grant go home at night after a busy day of
successfully defending slob corporations (I'm not saying that corporations
must be slobs), getting them off the hook for any meaningful remediation,
and then look at themselves in the mirror and reflect upon their
environmental sensitivity.  Deeds speak louder than words.  Admittedly,
there is not much profit in being an environmental good guy.  But please,
don't expect us to forgive your daily deeds because you cough up an annual
membership fee to the Sierra Club.

Accused criminals deserve a good legal defense to obtain justice.  Do true
murderers deserve freedom because your lawyer is better than my lawyer?  Is
it justice that we want, or a game?

I'm not too keen on preserving the rare 3 eyed mosquito.  I DO want a decent
place to live.  However, this is inconsistent with the slob corporations and
the slob farms being defended here.




----- Original Message -----
From: "Grant Trigger" <GTrigger@honigman.com>
To: <dzaber@chorus.net>; <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>; <VERMEUKW@wnj.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 10:33 PM
Subject: Re: E-M:/ Tragic loss of family farm to a mega-dairy


> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from "Grant Trigger" <GTrigger@honigman.com>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> One point of clarification - I did not mean to put any "blame" on anyone -
many people do not consider the consequences of estate planning in the
context of preserving farms - I am particularly sensitive to it because I
have had to help my Dad (before he died) and my brother figure out a way to
keep the farm together (in an area of the state not facing huge development
pressures - I can only imagine how hard it would be in Macomb county).  My
point was meant to focus on how hard it is to be a successful farmer these
days - and I see some of the way this issue is being managed making it
worse.  A dairy of beef farm may simply be impossible to operate without
large herds - why make it harder?  Most farmers were the first
conservationists - work with em and not against em. And I suggest that
government subsidies are much more complex than simply creating an adverse
impact by consolidating certain wealth.  I suggest a month on a farm during
planting season might open a lot of eyes and minds (maybe even a weekend
>
> >>> "David Zaber" <dzaber@chorus.net> 05/02/02 04:16PM >>>
> Folks,
>
> This was sent to me by Mr. Vermeulen.  My response in caps below.
>
> Dave Zaber
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: Kenneth Vermeulen
>   To: dzaber@chorus.net 
>   Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 9:40 AM
>   Subject: Re: E-M:/ Tragic loss of family farm to a mega-dairy
>
>
>   Once again, David, your environmental fanaticism has blinded you to the
point of Grant's message.  I completely agree with you that the whole issue
of farm subsidies needs to be re-examined.  But are you against ALL farm
subsidies?  including the Conservation Reserve Program?  recognized by just
about everyone, including every environmental group that I know of, as one
of the most successful habitat restoration programs EVER?
>
>   WELL, GIVEN THAT I DID NOT TRY TO PIN A LABEL ON MR. TRIGGER, BUT RATHER
FOCUSED ON THE ISSUES RAISED, I'LL IGNORE YOUR AD HOMINUM CHARACTERIZATION
OF ME AS A FANATIC.  IT MAKES ME WONDER IF YOU HAVE ANY FACTS ON YOUR SIDE
OR DO YOU NEED TO RELY UPON MISCHARACTERIZATIONS OF INDIVIDUALS TO MAKE YOUR
POINTS?
>
>   AS FOR ALL SUBSIDIES, I'M AGAINST THOSE THAT CONCENTRATE WEALTH AND
RESULT IN ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE.  THAT SHOULDN'T BE TO HARD TO UNDERSTAND.
I'M SURE IT WILL BE DISTORTED BY THOSE SEEKING TO CONTINUE TO PULL THE
(SUBSIDIZED) WOOL OVER THE EYES OF THE MAJORITY OF TAX PAYERS WHO DO NOT
RECIEVE SUBSIDIES TO POLLUTE THEIR NEIGHBORS AND POISON THEIR (OUR)
ENVIRONMENT.
>
>   The fact is, better estate planning, as well as the elimination of the
death tax, would be a HUGE benefit to small farmers.  Why not agree with
Grant on that issue and move forward, rather than using his message as an
opportunity to attack him?
>
>   OH, SO NOW THE REPUBLICAN "DEATH TAX" CANARD IS THE REASON THEY LOST
THEIR FARM.  HMMMMM.  AS FOR BETTER ESTATE PLANNING.  YOU BET.  BUT SINCE
MR. TRIGGER'S ARGUMENT WAS BASED ON THE FAILURE OF THE FAMILY ITSELF  AS THE
REASON FOR THEIR LOSS OF THEIR LAND, IT'S WHAT I RESPONDED TO.
>
>   I understand that you think of attorneys like Grant and myself as the
incarnation of evil, but you and your organization would be better served to
accept the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Grant and I both share your
basic concern for the environment, we just have different ideas as to how
best to achieve truely environmentally beneficial results, that can be
economically viable, and consistent with the rights and freedoms of the
citizens of this great country.  We will do more to help the environment by
working together, rather than constantly bashing each other.
>
>   HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT YOU OR MR. TRIGGER?  WE'VE NEVER MET.
ALL I KNOW ABOUT YOU IS FROM YOUR POSTS ON ENVIROMICH.  WHERE DO THESE IDEAS
COME FROM?
>
>   There is an economic reality in farming (like all other business), that
has NOTHING to do with subsidies.  The more efficient the operation, the
higher the profit.  Without subsidies ALL farmers, large and small alike,
were suffering.  I suggest we work on finding a way to improve farm
efficiency WITHOUT DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT.  The two goals are NOT
mutually exclusive.
>
>   DO WE WORK ON IMPROVING FARM EFFICIENCY WHILE NOT DESTROYING THE
ENVIRONMENT BEFORE DURING OR AFTER THE NEXT POISONOUS FACTORY FARM BEGINS
OPERATIONS IN MICHIGAN?
>
>   Ken
>
>   >>> "David Zaber" <dzaber@chorus.net> 05/01/02 10:22PM >>>
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
>   Enviro-Mich message from "David Zaber" <dzaber@chorus.net>
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
>
>   Mr. Trigger wrote:
>
>   "We still need to figure out how to reconcile the pressures to grow farm
>   operations (including dairy) in order to make any money with the
conflicts
>   land use issues raise."
>
>
>   Dave Zaber replies:
>
>   The pressures to grow farm operations comes from a variety of sources,
not
>   the least of which is massive government subsidies that unbalance the
>   playing field.  These terribly destructive taxpayer subsidies are set to
>   grow under the new farm bill.
>
>   These subsidies take many forms but the outcome is sadly too often the
same:
>   privatization of public dollars by small groups of individuals who's
actions
>   have disproportionate impacts on their neighbors (of course that is when
the
>   actual owners of these farms lives on site). One of these impacts is the
>   suppression of prices (made easy by externalization of the cost of waste
>   disposal on to the environment and neighbors) which undercut smaller
>   operators.
>
>   You see, Mr. Trigger, this phenomenon - where costs are socialized while
>   benefits are privatized - is at the heart of the expansion of animal
factors
>   such as those metastasizing across Michigan.  Whether its oil (subsidies
>   through military/depletion allowances/waste externalization) or coal
mining
>   (waste externalization, worker health costs, global climate change) or
>   paper-making (below-cost national and state forest timber sales, agency
>   responsibility for costs of monitoring compliance, deterioration of
roads
>   from log transport) or any number of other such endeavors much of their
>   success is due to a transfer of money from taxpayer to private entity
via
>   government.
>
>   So, rather than blame the loss of this farm and its take-over by another
>   mega polluter on the family who ran it, lets try evening the playing
field.
>   After all, its only fair.
>
>   Regards
>
>
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: "Grant Trigger" <GTrigger@honigman.com>
>   To: <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>; <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
>   Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2002 3:10 PM
>   Subject: Re: E-M:/ Tragic loss of family farm to a mega-dairy
>
>
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
>   Enviro-Mich message from "Grant Trigger" <GTrigger@honigman.com>
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
>
>   Aside from the dairy farm issue this is a classic example of the need
for
>   estate planning - no heir has any right that a person does not want to
give
>   them.  So if anyone wants the "farm" to stay intact they provide for it
and
>   you can avoid forced sales etc.   Without knowing any detail here -
farms
>   can be preserved - Nature Conservancies can help with development rights
>   issues and pressures and good estate planning can help secure the farm.
>
>   We still need to figure out how to reconcile the pressures to grow farm
>   operations (including dairy) in order to make any money with the
conflicts
>   land use issues raise.  All anyone has to do is drive through the
country
>   and count the number of closed dairy and beef farm lots - it is almost
>   impossible to make any money unless you grow very large.  We need to be
>   careful or we will drive farming out of the realistic future of many -
>   including my brother and many of his friends.
>
>   >>> "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org> 05/01/02 01:56PM >>>
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
>   Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
>
>   Folks:
>
>   I have been sent a letter to the Editor of the Morenci Observer that I
want
>   to share with you -- I have to say few things have made me a sad for the
>   tragedy we have allowed to be inflicted on our rural communities.  Note
that
>   this farm is in the area of 9 other mega-dairies, so the writer clearly
>   knows the effects of these facilities:
>
>   "Regrets expressed about large dairy
>
>   The Taylor Family cannot begin to express the deep sadness that has
taken
>   over our lives at this time and will continue for the rest of our lives.
>   The farm has been the heart of our family since 1941 when it was
purchased
>   by my grandparents, Roy and Minnie Taylor.  The greatest gift from them
was
>   their love of the farm and the importance of family. That gift could be
felt
>   four generations later, long after they passed away.
>
>   Every room of the house, every rose bush, every tree and every inch of
the
>   farmland could spark the wonderful memories that we had all enjoyed.
>   Grandpa's wish was for it to be home to everyone even when they had
their
>   own homes.  His wish was to have that beautiful property last forever,
to be
>   a remembrance of his hard work and the joy that it brought to him and
his
>   family.  Unfortunately, the farm was ordered to be sold due to the death
of
>   one of the heirs.
>
>   The months leading up to this dreaded event have been like a slow death.
Our
>   family farm, our connection with the past, the sights and sounds that
spark
>   those little reminders of all the loved ones that have passed before us
>   would soon be gone.  What kept us going through the wait was a small
hope of
>   buying some of it back, for grandchildren to enjoy and grow to love the
way
>   we had.  But that did not happen.
>
>   The farm, the heart of our family, will hold a mega dairy.  If we had
been
>   asked before the auction what is the worst possible thing that could
happen,
>   the answer would have been that we will lose it all. Now I know the true
>   answer and it has happened.
>
>   So now we offer our deepest regret to our neighbors and friends that
will
>   have to live with the possible effects of the dairy. We are truly sorry
that
>   this has happened and would never in a million years have done this if
it
>   had been up to us.  We loved the farm and the neighborhood just the way
it
>   was.
>
>   So, as you drive by in the future and resent the giant buildings, the
smell
>   and the flies, please try to remember it as it was: a beautiful farm
that
>   was home to five generations who will miss it terribly.
>
>   We were not the ones that invited the mega dairy into our community.  We
>   respect your right to live the lifestyle you have chosen for yourself
and
>   your families.  We are just sorry that other people do not feel that
way.
>
>   Sincerely,
>
>   Debbie Miller and family
>
>   Representing other family members:
>   Andy Taylor, Richard Taylor, Robert Taylor and family, Gary Taylor and
>   family, Frank Beckett, Pat Beckett and family, Joanne Beckett-McGuire
and
>   family, Roger Leininger and family, Harold Leininger and family, Jerry
>   Leininger and family, Roberta Spadafore and family and Robin Scott and
>   family
>
>
>
>
>
>   AW
>   <<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->>
>   Anne Woiwode, Staff Director, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
>   109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48906
>   517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108  anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org 
>   visit the Mackinac Chapter on the web at http:\\michigan.sierraclub.org
>
>
>
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