Ohio Farm Bureau is off base

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Editor:

The latest issue of the Buckeye Farm News contained an article written by Jack Fisher of the Ohio Farm Bureau that lacks credibility.

Calling the groups opposed to the industrialization of the livestock industry as being “well funded” is incredulous. Who is more well funded than Nationwide?

As a Farm Bureau member with traditional farmer ancestors, I question the motives of the Ohio Farm Bureau for this type of livestock raising, which has created so many problems around the country and created so much suffering for the neighbors, here in Ohio.

My husband passed away Dec. 2. For 13 years, he endured the problems of living 500 feet east of 10 poultry buildings raising Park Farms’ chickens. His greatest desire was left unresolved – to return to the ocean to do some salt water fishing. His greatest enemy was depression over the helplessness of dealing with the realization his lifetime investment in his property was lost.

Folks passing in the street with their air conditioning and windows rolled up notice only the superficial aspects of the farm, the flowers, the landscaping, etc. I would ask them if they would like to live across from this industry.

Having recorded all the calls on our property during the three years it has been on the market, I can assure you, they would not. The dust, flies, noise, environmental damage, property value loss are undeniable. CAFOs breed flies year-round; they should not be near homes.

Under normal circumstances, I would never have felt the need to put in a reverse osmosis clean water system. Due to the 60 poultry buildings in a mile and a half, raising 7 million broilers, I had no choice.

If Park Farm’s showplace, the North Preston farm, is such a pleasant environment, why the constant change of employee managers?

I would suggest Mr. Fisher look up and note the amount this property has been insured for and then question why he thinks this is the way to grow the livestock industry.

Teaming up with powerful people is not my idea of how agriculture should conduct its business. The less-than-honest approach Farm Bureau has taken on this issue is also not the way to go. Why not make Ohio the provider of quality products, raised humanely on pasture, and in an environmentally sound way, as all good farmers do.

I do not purchase my meats in supermarkets. No, I am not a vegetarian. I have an egg lady, drink organic milk and feel Ohio is missing the boat on this issue.

Please encourage some honesty from the Ohio Farm Bureau. You may have the money, but we have the consumers, and educating them is my goal.

Mary G. Gibson

Louisville, Ohio


Reader questions long-term effects of large farms

Does a community benefit from a large farm facility over the long run?

Editor:

After reading the heavily slanted special report on Dutch dairies (Changing Places in the June 12 edition), I couldn’t help but wonder why these facilities were presented as such a boon to Ohio farming.

Yes, they could initially provide investment dollars into the local rural economics: dollars to whoever sells the land, designs the facility or builds the building. Over a period of years, they will, I am sure, purchase supplies, groceries, clothes and household items, and pay taxes as does every other citizen in the area.

What I have to question is whether or not the community benefits from the facility over the long run.

According to Bowers and Hamrick’s Rural Conditions and Trends: Socioeconomic Conditions, studies have found that CAFOs displace three times as many jobs as they create.

The overproduction brought about by these facilities will only bring the hundredweight milk price down even lower – knocking those dairymen who are just making ends meet right off the farm, creating a downward spiral as less money is spent in town and retailers and feed mills downsize to adapt to lower sales figures.

Property taxes are going to continue at CAUV rates, so these facilities won’t bring enough additional income into the local government coffers to cover the expense of the cleanup after one of their “learning curve” manure spills. There is no mention of the history of the loss of property values near these facilities.

At the state level, it becomes even less cost efficient to have these facilities.

Where the EPA rarely was called in to deal with farm spills before CAFOs became “the way to raise livestock,” Ohio now needs a separate division of the Department of Agriculture to regulate, inspect and police them.

And it is the one division not subject to cuts as our legislators try to work out a budget in a sea of red ink.

Do the fines brought in from state-level citations cover the costs of inspections, policing and cleanup? What about the costs of citations and litigation?

I can’t even begin to imagine what the state of Ohio has spent to investigate and prosecute just Buckeye Egg Farm, much less the other lower profile farms like Ohio Feedlot Inc., Sunnyside Farms or Day Lay.

Whether the “farmers” are Dutch- or American-born, these facilities are not farms. They are factories and the animals confined in them are no more than pieces of equipment, pushed to produce, and disposed of before their time simply to prove that more milk can be produced on smaller acreage by fewer farmers.

They lower the value of the product by flooding the market, put neighbors out of business – not only off the farm, but also off of Main Street USA – and turn our rural areas into stinking, fly-infested wastelands as fields are over-manured and prematurely worn-out livestock are loaded into compost piles to rot.

To those readers who wrote in claiming they would welcome these farms into their communities, I suggest you contact Vreba-Hoff directly to offer the location nearest you.

Nancy Raeder

Caldwell, Ohio

(The author is the chair of the Ohio Family Farm Coalition.)

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