FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: SEN. LIZ BRATER
SENATE DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE BILLS TO PROTECT FAMILY FARMS, RURAL COMMUNITIES
Saginaw, Monroe, and
LANSING—Addressing one of the greatest threats to Michigan family farms, rural life, drinking water, and air quality, Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor), ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, & Tourism Committee, along with Rep. Frank Accavitti (D-Eastpointe), today introduced legislation that would provide adequate oversight for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms. Every year, these corporate animal factories put smaller family farms and rural communities at risk by generating massive amounts of pollution, contaminating Michigan’s air and water with animal waste and toxic byproducts.
“These operations are corporate animal factories, not
farms,” said Sen. Brater. “
Democrats referred to their package as AG SAFE, Adequate Guidelines for Safer Animal Factory Emissions. The Senate legislation would:
themselves to be good stewards of land and water,” said Marilyn Momber,
President, Michigan Farmers Union. “We depend on
“Companies who impede a farmer or rural resident’s ability to work and live where they have for decades must be held accountable for their actions,” said Sen. Burton Leland (D-Detroit). “The only way to make them pay attention is to make them pay for the damages they inflict.”
Corporate farms create a net loss of employment because they drive
local farmers and the merchants that service them out of business. A
“Setting up a corporate animal factory next to a family homestead is like building a multi-million dollar house and then pouring your sewage in the neighbor’s ditch,” said Rep. Accavitti. “But the multi-million dollar homes of factory farm executives are seldom near the facilities themselves, and the large companies that run the operations contract equipment and services. Host communities don’t even get compensated for the stench they face daily.”
Unmanaged livestock production is one of the biggest threats to community health in rural areas, yet corporate factory farms are not subject to the Clean Water Act, the federal rules and regulations to which all other factories must adhere. The clay-lined lagoons that store manure at corporate farms can be expected to leak up to several thousand gallons per acre per day, contaminating drinking water, spreading disease, and affecting air quality for miles.
“Corporate animal factories are wreaking havoc on
Residents living near corporate farms experience increased rates of bronchitis, depression, headaches, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and an array of other ailments. Additionally, birth defects and miscarriages in communities surrounding factory farms have been linked to high levels of nitrates and other chemicals that are produced when the excessive amounts of chlorine required to “clean” contaminated drinking water mix with organic matter, like fertilizer, in surface water.
“As we work to strengthen and diversify our local and state
economies, we need to level the playing field so that small farmers can
compete,” said Sen. Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek). “An
indication of our competitiveness and quality of life is how we care for and
protect our environment. If we want to bring jobs to
Waste produced by corporate factory farms contains antibiotic-resistant
bacteria, hormone-laced animal carcass remnants, and chemical byproducts.
“Corporate animal factories aren’t just a problem for the
communities where they exist. They affect the water supply, food quality,
and recreation areas of all
AG SAFE is supported by Farms without Harm, Michigan Farmers Union, Sierra Club, and Michigan Environmental Council.