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E-M:/ Correction: Spin on proposed Bustorf Dairy CAFO in Kazoo Gazette

In article 2 of the Kazoo Gazette series there is reporting of people objecting to the odors from the CAFO near them, but the vast majority of space is given over to proponents or excuse makers for the CAFOs.


Anne Woiwode, State Director

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

(517) 484-2372


From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net [mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Anne Woiwode
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 12:17 PM
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: E-M:/ Spin on proposed Bustorf Dairy CAFO in Kazoo Gazette


Additional articles have shown up in the Kalamazoo Gazette on CAFOs, and finally the bottom line becomes clear.  Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development, the Wal-Mart or McDonalds of CAFO propagators in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, has been working overtime to get their “spin” out on the proposed Bustorf Dairy CAFO in Leonidas Twp.  It is extremely disappointing that Gazette has not provided a balanced overview of the topic or this specific proposal -- in the three articles so far the first comments from any person objecting to any CAFO in any form comes in the last few inches of the third article, and is just a quick breeze through that by its brevity dismisses the significance of concerns.  


The comments from the Vreba Hoff spokesperson do such injustice to the very legitimate concerns of people who are actually paying attention, looking at the reality on the ground in their community and running into the brick wall in Michigan that pretty much says until the poop hist the creek, any CAFO is good to go. And once the poop is in the creek, it is far too often millions of dollars, and usually years, if ever, before the community can get back to what everyone in this state and country deserve -- unpolluted water and air.  The Township Supervisor points out that, like a lot of these facility proposals, there was no effort to engage the locals in the discussion about the proposal -- why talk to people who understand what a threat you pose to their community when the political balance is in favor of shoving it through now because the law favors these facilities over virtually every other industry or other activity in your community?


In addition, while the articles do post the Pew Charitable Trusts recent, extremely detailed and comprehensive report on Industrial Farm Animal Production (http://www.ncifap.org/ ), the only other link is to something called the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which despite their pretty website is pretty much the complete list of the biggest pushers of CAFOs in the country, specifically:

Animal Agriculture Alliance Coalition Member Organizations:

American Farm Bureau Federation
Animal Agriculture Alliance
Animal Health Institute
American Meat Institute
National Chicken Council
National Milk Producers Federation


National Pork Board
National Pork Producers Council
National Turkey Federation
United Egg Producers
United Soybean Board
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association



Where is the Gazette’s reporting on the other side?  Where is the conversation with people in MICHIGAN who actually know this issue, know the Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development LLC, their record of building CAFOs many of which have been cited for environmental violations?  Where is the review of easily available reporting, including in the Dayton Daily News, the Toledo Blade, the Washington Post, and even other Booth Newspapers in Michigan like the Muskegon Chronicle and the Bay City Times?


Where is the mention that Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development operations have had a significantly less than stellar performance record in the three states where these facilities are being propagated?  In 2005, of the 33 Vreba Hoff Dairy Development operations set up in Ohio (22) and Indiana (11),  6 in Indiana and 14 in Ohio had been issued administrative orders by the US EPA for violations of the Clean Water Act.  Just this year, the DeGroot Dairy CAFO in Indiana (not identified as being cited in the 2005 document) was found to be so out of whack with environmental laws that the state environmental agency forced the operation to be sold back to Vreba Hoff Dairy Development, and banned the operator from operating in Indiana until 2048.  As the local paper in Indiana said regarding this case: “In the eyes of opponents, the decision to sell the former DeGroot Dairy in southern Huntington County to Ohio-based Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development rids the community of one accused polluter and installs another.” 


In Michigan the 8 operations created by Vreba Hoff Dairy Development or its precursors as of 2005 have all been cited by EPA and/or DEQ for violations of water quality laws.   In fact, the proposed permits for the Vreba Hoff Dairy CAFO and the Waldron Dairy CAFO are finally being considered by the DEQ much later than other CAFOs because of the continuing problems coming into compliance with their respective court orders.  The lack of mention of the extensive coverage of the Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development is surprising, and suggests a unbecoming bias by the Kazoo Gazette in this reporting.


While it will be argued that one should not judge the proposed Bustorf facility by the record of the Vreba Hoff Dairy Development’s other ventures, the question should definitely be how will Mr. Bustorf distinguish himself from these facilities?  The contention that the Michigan DEQ permitting process sets “a tough standard” may be accurate, but what it ISN’T is a plan to PREVENT pollution from CAFOs.  DEQ has resisted the requirement that the permit seekers provide complete information regarding the proposed facility for public review and DEQ review before the permit is issued.  In fact the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that this information was required in a ruling issued earlier this year in a case brought by Sierra Club, but DEQ is appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court instead of complying. 


While more information is provided now in the permitting process as a result both of public demand for that information, legal efforts by Sierra Club and increased experience by DEQ with the unbelievably bad problems posed by poorly designed and operated CAFOs, the permit is only as effective as the ability of the agency to assure that it is being followed.  The CAFO program now takes in less than 10% in fees of the cost to the DEQ of handling permits, doing enforcement, etc., and as anyone on this list knows DEQ’s funding is in the tank, leading to handing some programs back to the EPA.  Groups like the Farm Bureau want to even remove the requirement for permits for CAFOS, taking away even the ability to know that there is a facility being built, but fortunately DEQ has been adamant, despite the strain, that this would be unacceptable.


I hope that the final article today makes up for all the deficits, but even then the presentation with such positive spin up front will outweigh a balanced presentation on the issues.


Anne Woiwode



Anne M. Woiwode, State Director

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter - 109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906  - 517-484-2372    anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org

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