Part I: Oversight of Livestock Industry Fails Farmers, Environment
Investigation reveals state ignores spills, sets farms up for fines
February 6, 1999 | By Patty Cantrell
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service
OVERSIGHT ILLUSION CONCLUSION United in this call for corrective and responsible action are:
The Institute’s investigation, however, reveals the Michigan Model is an illusion.
These cases point to serious problems with Michigan’s current and proposed program for protecting the environment and rural communities from hazards inherent to large-scale, concentrated animal feeding operations. As federal regulators conclude in the USDA-EPA Draft Unified Strategy, from which Michigan is seeking exemption: "Large facilities (those with more than 1,000 animal units) produce quantities of manure that are a risk to water quality and public health whether the facilities are well managed or not."
Industrial-scale operations are increasing in Michigan as both industry and state-government promoters encourage farmers to adopt high-volume production. But, as the Institute’s review proves, Michigan is not prepared to ensure the shift to industrial agriculture is environmentally responsible.
It is incumbent upon state policy makers to recognize the flaws in the Department of Agriculture’s complaint response program, acknowledge the industry’s accelerating trend to larger livestock operations, and protect Michigan’s rural communities, groundwater, clear streams and clean air.
It is also essential that Michigan’s livestock producers receive clear and consistent guidance from state officials. Individual farmers pay a heavy price when the Department of Agriculture responds to a complaint but fails to identify problems that may exist or specify corrective measures required to prevent the problem from happening again.
Five of the state’s largest public interest and environmental policy groups, listed below, now call on the Michigan Department of Agriculture to immediately comply with its existing obligations under the law.
This coalition also calls on state policy makers to:
The Michigan Land Use Institute
The Michigan Environmental Council
The West Michigan Environmental Action Council
The Sierra Club, Mackinac Chapter
Clean Water Action
United in this call for corrective and responsible action are: