I have been a 34-year member of the Stark County Farm Bureau. I did not renew my membership for 2012 as I find I no longer have any common interests.
My home has been on the market for 23 years. When it was put on the market originally, it was in pristine condition, having been totally renovated. Every real estate agent in Stark County had a crack at trying to sell it without success. The reason — the neighborhood, 500 feet downwind of the 10 poultry buildings owned by Park Farms, recently sold to Case Farms.
I was a licensed real estate broker in Wisconsin and as such had experience with the Clean Water Act. This home, which had been on the market for a day and already had an offer on it, was situated across from a wetland. Knowing the protection Wisconsin gave to such areas, I felt secure my home would be protected.
What I did not contend with was the power of Park Farms to skirt all environmental laws with all the governing agencies helping. The Stark County Health Board who was in charge of the revised codes for local zoning issues failed to do its job.
Neighbors went in numbers to this board but got nowhere, Most sold out at big losses (which I would have been glad to do too, had one been made.) A representative of the Stark County Farm Bureau contended I was a bitter person.
Perhaps a real weakness in Farm Bureau is a lack of compassion for wrongs done to its own membership. I have just filed Chapter 7, bankruptcy so I may get on with what remains of my life. At 77 I know I don’t have much time left but living as I am living, without any hope, is not constructive.
In other truly agricultural states making greater contribution to the state coffers than Ohio does, two tier systems of animal industry is the normal way of doing business. Park would have been considered a commercial operation, as the volume and the lack of having the owner work on a day to day basis would denote this category. Hiring employees who could care less about spraying herbicides destroying the neighbors landscaping is not the way to go folks.
What happened to bring about the demise of Park Poultry? Will the same thing happen to Case? Consumers call the shots. The poultry industry in Ohio should rethink what it is doing.
I will continue to tell my story until there is sense in the livestock industry. Nobody’s home or life deserves to be destroyed by an entity that should be regulated. Farm Bureau is powerful, but does that power come from its insurance company or from farmers? I would suggest Nationwide is the driving force of its power.
Mary G. Gibson