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RE: E-M:/ Posthumus -- Anti-family farm, Pro- Pollution fromCAFOS

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

Responding to Grand Trigger's post:


Manure is a great substance for farm fields, in the right quantity, of the
right consistency, resulting from the right feeds, etc. If we went back to
pasturing the livestock for significant parts of the years and keeping them
in barns for just the worst weather, cleaning out the barn once or twice a
year, spreading the partially rotted manure and straw mix in a solid form on
the ground in quantities that didn't overload the earth and at the right
time of year, that would be a fine idea.  That is EXACTLY what Mr. Posthumus
seems to be calling entirely out the window these days.

I get the feeling with both you and the Lt. Gov that there is a lack of
contact with the realities of these types of operations, otherwise these
kinds of arguments would not come up -- some of the worst problems occur
because you take:
a) huge amounts of manure, as occurs in "concentration" of so many animals
in one space (minimum CAFO size is the equivalent in quantity of urine and
feces production to 16,000 people);
b) add substances such a subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics that are often
included in the feed which lead to antibiotic resistance in bacteria
normally found in those animals (more than 3/4s of the antibiotics produced
in this country today are fed to livestock, almost all of that to help add
weight faster to the animals to be slaughtered, according to Union of
Concerned Scientists);
c) wash these wastes into huge cesspools, either under the animal buildings
or outside of them, where they are "stored" until spread, but are NOT
treated (there is in Michigan no such thing as treatment for wastes in the
lagoons from CAFOS);
d) where the wastes in the "lagoons" often outgas hydrogen sulfide, ammonia,
and any number of other pollutants yet to be identified;
e) and where the liquified wastes or semi-liquid wastes are often spread in
such a quantity or during precipitation or onto frozen or saturated ground
or onto tiled fields, that they completely overwhelm the capacity of the
soil to absorb the waste and instead end up creating a river of pollutant
contaminated, pathogen laden wastes flowing into our state's waterways or

Now, Mr. Posthumus touts his credentials as an agricultural economist, not
as a livestock specialist or soils scientist, or someone else who actually
studies these types of technologies or facilities. As a result, his comments
are only as good as his attempt to obtain objective, accurate information
about the issue, which for all intents and purposes seems not to have
happened at all.

The question here is whether he is endorsing the current totally unregulated
approach of the Engler/Posthumus administration to CAFOs out of ignorance or
because he is totally in the pocket of the agribusiness interests that stand
to profit from cutting corners on protecting the environment and running
small operations out of business.  Either way is unacceptable.

Anne Woiwode

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

Careful about these generalizations - consider how many rural
communities have waste water lagoons as the only feasible method of
wastewater treatment.  The simple fact the lagoons are used does not
make them cesspools - and I suspect (but do not know) that we may still
manage more human waste via septic tanks than CAFO  lagoons - the facts
on that might be interesting.  It is unclear to me what the alternatives
are - since manure has been spread on farms since even before horses
were pulling wagons what else does one do with manure?

I also suspect Mr. Posthumus has more knowledge of farming practices
than you are giving him credit.

>>> "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org> 09/30/02 11:39AM >>>
Enviro-Mich subscribers:

The past week has seen a number of statements from Dick Posthumus about
position on the death of the family or small scale farm in Michigan,
and how
(despite his campaign statements about the importance of water quality
Michigan) we are just plain going to have to learn to wallow in manure
like it.  What is astonishing is how remarkably ignorant this man seems
be of the facts surrounding these issues.  Evidently he thinks manure
cesspools, euphemistically known as "lagoons" are a treatment
technology for
the waste, instead of what they really are: large, often unlined dirt
for holding the liquified manure that is rife with pollutants and
increasingly with anti-biotic resistant bacteria, until it can be
spread on

Below are two sources of these comments:

A roughly transcribed answer to a questions by an MPR reporter run on
Friday's news reports (apologies for any errors -- this was transcribed
me by going to the WKAR Radio website while the news item was still
and repeatedly playing it until I think I got it right):
That means having environmental regulations that will allow for the
concentrated livestock operations that need to operate --That is the
difference that many of the environmental  advisors to my oponent
understand -- that thats what's happening in agriculture and and argue
well, we can still have these small operations, The fact is they won't
in the future and that they don't exist today.

Second, an extensive section of the Detroit Free Press's editorial
interview with Mr. Posthumus was devoted to CAFOs and agriculture,
none of it showed up in the paper.  He claims to have been partly
responsible for the "compromise" that was struck with EPA on permits,
in fact no permit has yet been put out for public review, so nothing
been settled about permits.  Here is the website:
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/webpost27_20020927.htm -- go
3/4 of the way down in the interview to find comments like this:

Q: But I think some people would argue that one of the reasons the big
operations might not be feasible would be if they were paying for
water treatment to run waste systems away?
A: I don't think that is true. I don't think any agriculture economist
argue that. I think maybe some environmentalists would. But I think if
looked at the economics of the operations, that isn't true. Because
most of
them are already paying for that. Most of them have already said, for
example, the operations in our township have to have very large lagoons
the manure has to be stored in. In then has to be placed in the land
certain times. In fact, this one has even got in some DNR troubles
they didn't do it properly.  (excerpt from Detroit Free Press interview
Dick Posthumus, posted to website)

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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