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Re: E-M:/ Gerald Henning and MDA failure to respond: LSJ today

Enviro-Mich message from Kathy Melmoth <melmoth@dmci.net>

I was a public health nurse in the 80's. One of my jobs was to answer 
the phone and try to answer questions. I encountered poor, desperate and 
sometimes angry people. It was MY job to listen and try to move a 
problem to a point of discussion and referral, if not resolution.
I now farm full time for a living in Hillsdale County and have been 
exposed to the incredible stench of CAFOs while trying to work outside 
in our plant nursery. I live 5 miles away from Vreba-Hoff, another dairy 
CAFO, responsible for multiple violations and stench.  Hartland Farms 
too is responsible for multiple violations and stench and has yet to pay 
any fines. Our water data show ongoing water pollution downstream from 
all the CAFOS.
Gerald Henning is a long time farmer in the area. The stench from 
Hartland Farms has been incredible as many of us have experienced first 
hand driving past Gerald's place or visiting. He has been diagnosed with 
hydrogen sulfide poisoning by an expert M.D. as have other people living 
in the vicinity of CAFOs.
This method of livestock production is extremely dangerous to public 
health, both mental and physical, as has been documented in every state 
where CAFOs exist. It is extremely dangerous to the environment.
We have all gone through the "chain of command" with MDA,  I have seen 
MDA officials state at a public meeting that there were no complaints 
about CAFOs. Many MDA officials are or were Farm Bureau members, a 
private insurance organization with ties to the industries involved in 
CAFOs. Most of us have stopped even calling MDA. It is not worth our 
time. But Gerald, along with the rest of us, was told to call MDA for 
complaints. Complaints they later called unverified because all rules 
pertaining to CAFOs are voluntary. He has been threatened, his mailbox 
had a bomb in it, and multiple insults and incidents have been suffered 
by his family. On top of that they have to live with the incredible 
stench of liquid feces and urine, over applied and unincorporated, on 
the same fields over and over. A stench that in no way resembles farming 
odors of smaller, nonliquid, operations without lagoons.
Legislators and MDA supervisors have been informed from the beginning 
with documentation and pleas for help. They have ignored the problem.
MDA handled this whole situation very badly and I hope supervisors and 
legislators are paying attention.

CAFOs are a very polluting and destructive method of production. The 
system needs to change. This method of livestock production is 
destroying rural communities across this nation and is doing the same in 
south-central Michigan. The  mental and physical health of individuals 
are as badly impacted as the water and air.
Instead of prosecuting a lifelong, small farmer, MDA should be 
investigating methods of production that do not harm neighbors or the 
environment. Instead, they appear to be simply spokespersons for a very 
wealthy, subsidized industry.

Kathy Melmoth, RN and farmer.

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