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E-M:/ (I) Vreba-Hoff: Some background



Vreba-Hoff is a milk producer in southern Michigan with more than 6,000 cows.  It's also the central figure in a story about the Right-to-Farm Act (RTFA) colliding with clean environment and public health legislation.
 
Years ago, virtually all of the states adopted some form of right-to-farm legislation.  The huge concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) so common today were few and far between when RTFAs began to appear.  With the introduction of RTFAs, dairy, beef, hog and poultry CAFOs multiplied exponentially.  Many CAFOs in Michigan and elsewhere couldn't survive without the immunity from certain lawsuits provided in the RTFA. 
 
Piling up layers of conflicting legislation is nothing new.  If the legislature won't revisit these laws and make the cogs in the wheels mesh, it's left to the courts to sort things out and that can take a long time, sometimes decades.
 
The defining characteristic of these factory farms is excess -- too much manure, urine, stench and pollution; too many dead animals piled up; too many flies and bacteria; brim-full manure pits holding thousands, sometimes millions of gallons of liquid waste. The land, air and water are overwhelmed.  The quality of the neighbors' lives is ruined and their property values diminished.
 
The Vreba-Hoff operation in south central Michigan has been a constant challenge to Michigan's clean air, clean water and public health laws.  Violations have resulted in numerous fines.  The fines, like the dairy's promises to reform, have been accumulating for years.  The balance at present exceeds $400,000.
 
--  Jim Lang
 
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