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E-M:/ =?WINDOWS-1252?Q?MDA_can=92t_take_the_heat_from_82_year_old,_lif?==?WINDOWS-1252?Q?e-long_farmer--_has_him_arrested?=

Press Release from Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan

MDA can’t take the heat from 82 year old, life-long farmer-- has him arrested

Lenawee County, Michigan – Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) today condemned the Michigan Department of Agriculture for taking an 82 year old, life-long farmer in Lenawee County to court for his outraged complaints against liquid manure sprayed near his property. 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture filed a complaint against Gerald Henning, Clayton, for “obscene communication” to MDA staff over manure complaints.  Henning and his wife Lia’s farm is surrounded on three sides by liquid manure-application fields of a large dairy Confined Animal Feed Operation (CAFO).  For the last three years, liquid manure sprayed on fields around them has ruined their quality of life and jeopardized their health. 

John Klein, President of ECCSCM, condemned the MDA action.  “Legal procedure dictates that complaints of these types must be filed with the MDA. And since the beginning of this CAFO issue, the MDA has failed to provide any relief to area residents. The only difference between Mr. Henning and myself is that he had the guts to say it to them directly. To have him arrested appears to be nothing more than intimidation.”

When liquid manure was applied near his boundary in October, Henning called MDA to report the violation.  He made numerous complaints about odor and manure-application violations anda left phone messages for MDA.  He says he spoke his mind.

Gerald Henning says liquid manure sprayed all around would make anybody mad.  “I told them, I’m a farmer, too.  But you can take your GAAMPs [the voluntary guidelines for Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices] and use them for toilet paper.  We got a stink-hit farm over here, I told them. I told it straight.” 

MDA apparently couldn’t take the heat.  They filed a complaint against Henning on October 13, and Henning was arrested.  His trial is set for May 19 in 54-A District Court, Lansing.   

Henning’s family has lived and farmed in Hudson Township, Lenawee County, for generations, with Henning Highway and nearby Henning County Drain named after his ancestors.  The Michigan DEQ has cited the dairy CAFO for multiple pollution violations of Henning County Drain.

People can’t live with these liquid manure operations, Henning says. “It was a stinking mess, and they didn’t do anything.  Hey, all they heard was stinking language.”  He says his wife often can’t go out and work in her flowers.  “She comes in with tears in her eyes, it’s that bad,” Henning says.

Neighbors of other dairy CAFOs in Lenawee and Hillsdale County have also called MDA and DEQ about liquid-manure application and air pollution violations.  Liquid manure sprayed on a frozen hayfield in February in Medina Township, Lenawee County, brought complaints from neighbors for weeks. 

ECCSCM is an advocacy group for responsible agriculture and water resource protection, demanding a transition from the polluting liquid system of CAFO manure management to no-lagoon/drier systems. 

Contact:  John Klein, President
Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan