Despite the fact that the DEQ is taking legal action against the state’s most notorious CAFO polluter, illegal spreading of raw animal wastes is still taking place around the state. More CAFOs appear to be in disaster mode, madly dumping sewage to avoid lagoon overflows. Applying CAFO sewage on frozen or snow covered ground violates the law and Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPS) and poses severe risks to human health. Michigan is facing an epidemic of animal sewage!
The number of reports of illegal sewage application from CAFO neighbors around the state is increasing. Distraught neighbors have reported the following to the Sierra Club:
Weller Farms, owned by John Weller, Middleton (New Haven Twp) just east of Carson City has been spreading raw sewage for a week on frozen ground. The facility is currently using fields on Warner Rd., 1 mile South of M-57 for its sewage disposal. Neighbors are suffering, as their homes have begun to stink with the emissions. As soon as the weather warms, Weller’s sewage will likely flow into the Maple River and potentially Rainbow Lake between St. Johns and Carson City. According to neighbors, Weller recently expanded his herd of animals and is clearly unable to manage the increased levels of sewage.
Bakerlad Farms (which has had two water quality violations and is supposed to be under permit, but has failed to obtain the permit) in Clayton, MI is also spreading waste on frozen ground. The facility started applying sewage three days ago onto fields owned by them at Beecher and Morey Roads in Lenawee County. As soon as temperatures rise, sewage is expected to begin flowing into the south branch of the River Raisin via the Miller Drain.
We also know that the Hartford Dairy in Coopersville (now known as Red Arrow Dairy), owned by Tim Den Dulk was applying raw sewage last week. Nor further details on this incident are available at this time. The Hartford Dairy was the subject of an extensive DEQ water quality investigation last year, revealing many dangerously high E.Coli bacteria levels in most of the waterways near their sewage application fields. Some E. coli bacteria counts were over 1 million “colony forming units” (cfus) per 100 ml of water – orders of magnitude above the safety level of 300 cfu/100 ml.
Jelsma Dairy (now known as Waldron Dairy and newly purchased by Vreba Hoff), located near Camden, MI was also spreading waste yesterday on property owned by the Vreba Hoff Dairies. Sewage from that facility is expected to flow into Toad Creek and ultimately into the Maumee River.
Rural residents of Niles, Michigan were horrified last week to find that a 2,000 head hog operation was setting up shop just a few hundred feet from homes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to neighbors there, representatives of the Farm Bureau were on hand and told residents at a community meeting that they might as well go home because of the Right to Farm Act they, as citizens, don’t have any rights or choice in the matter. They’re getting a hog factory whether they want one or not! Residents were incensed and terrified that the value of their homes just went down the sewer.
The arrogance of CAFO operators and their blatant violations of law and endangerment of human health and property must stop! What is going on in this state? Our Great Lakes State is soon to become the Great Sewage State! Michigan’s public health and tourism industry clearly means nothing to the animal factory industry – those who stand to make millions of dollars in profit while destroying the lives and homes of thousands of Michigan’s rural residents and family farmers, not to mention our second biggest industry: water-based tourism.
Please contact your legislators and tell them that this outrage MUST stop!! Go to http://mackinac.sierraclubaction.org/ to send your legislators a message. The ONLY way to stop animal factory pollution is to change Michigan law. The Right to Farm Act has become the Right to Pollute Act – and that must change!
109 E. Grand River Ave.
Lansing, MI 48906
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fax - (517) 484-3108
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