Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jasper Co Indiana Hog Farm draws more attention

It hit the front page today of the Chesterton/Valparaiso Post-Tribune with the headline: "Hog farm could ruffle crane migration haven"

Excellent article. Way to go Post-Tribune!

And the article emphasizes something I mentioned before on this blog. Here's quotes from the self-proclaimed expert-on-Cranes DNR official, Jim Bergens, who has been told by his boss that he can no longer talk to press (or anyone else) on this subject.
Bergens said he is not concerned about the cranes eating the manure when they probe into the soil with their beaks for food. Most of them are eating waste grain off fields that people have already tampered with, Bergens said.

“There’s fertilizer, there’s all kinds of other things in the soil,” Bergens said. “When they’re feeding on waste grain, they’re probably not probing the soil at all.”

Bergens said his two-decades worth of background knowledge on the birds is enough to help him come to these conclusions.
And now I have to wonder what cranes Jim was actually observing to gain this knowledge?

Since marrying my husband and moving here less than 2500 yards from the new hog factory under construction, I've been thrilled to watch the majestic Sandhill cranes surrounding our yard -- hundreds and hundreds of them -- feeding on the leftover corn that is usually disced into the ground after harvest.

Jim, being the expert he claims he is, should already know that CORN is their favorite food. He should also be aware that they will dig as deep as they can to get it, even if it has been disced down deep after harvest. Yes, maybe he is completely aware of this...

But maybe Jim isn't all that well-versed on hog sewage, and perhaps that's why he "thinks" it will pose no problem, even if it's knifed 6" to 8" into the soil.

Considering that pig sewage will contain the bacteria and drugs that those 2,496 pigs excrete every day, and considering it will be collecting into manure pits mixing nicely together BEFORE being spread on the soil -- without purification treatments of any kind -- here's a few links to some research Jim REALLY NEEDS to read, in my humble opinion:

1. Fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Manure-Amended Soil

Above report indicates the length of time E. coli (common in livestock manure, particularly swine manure) can survive in soils, and the serious threat to public health.

- "Escherichia coli O157:H7 cells survived for up to 77, >226, and 231 days in manure-amended autoclaved soil held at 5, 15, and 21°C, respectively."
(That's anywhere from over 2 months to as high as 7-1/2 months!!)

- "E. coli O157:H7 cells were inactivated more rapidly in both autoclaved and unautoclaved soils amended with manure at a ratio of 1 part manure to 10 parts soil at 15 and 21°C than in soil samples containing dilute amounts of manure."

(Remember, Jim, in the BZA meeting Belstra reps. stated they only plan to use 500 acres in this area to spread TONS of hog waste. Now Jim, do you honestly think they won't be spreading it where it's likely to be "foraged" through and eaten by wildlife? Jim, IT'S RIGHT BESIDE THE WILD GAME RESERVE for which you are the DNR "property manager".)

An interesting point made in the above scientific study:

"Animals from which food is derived are recognized as reservoirs of many significant food-borne pathogens, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Campylobacter spp."

The study was intended to be used to reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 transmission to foods produced from soils using livestock waste for fertizlizer.

Now, if it's dangerous to OUR health, and dangerous to use without CAREFUL application on land proucing fresh fruit/veggies... and since E. coli can be LETHAL to birds (you know this, right Jim?) do you think it just might affect the more than 20,000 cranes stopping to eat here each year? Now picture those birds flying off with their new viruses as they continue on their migratory journey...

What do you think, Jim?

2. In another study: "The persistence of L. monocytogenes for several weeks in manure-amended soil suggests listeriae could be transmitted through soil to fresh produce or to shoes, clothing, and hands of field workers, especially during the cold months."

3. In yet another study - "Thus, flies that come in contact with contaminated materials (i.e., manure, food, and water) are capable of transmitting Salmonella." ...and it also states... "In summary, the high nutrient content of sewage results in a good fertilizer, but the ability of Salmonella to survive in the fertilized soil may help perpetuate the presence of Salmonella species outside animal hosts."

And how about this quote from the same scientific study mentioned directly above... "Salmonella is frequently isolated from water sources, which serve as bacterial reservoirs and may aid transmission between hosts."

It won't just be our maginificent Sandhill Cranes drinking from ditches that may (or to be fair, may not) contain this bacteria from possible [in my humble opinion -- likely] leaching into water sources surrounding the manure spreading acres designated by this hog factory. Just think of all those wild deer, rabbits, foxes, moles, frogs, and... the list goes on.

Look, I can quote study after study after study that has been done regarding the bacteria associated with swine manure (and other concentrated farming livestock manure) -- it's enough to make some people sick just in reading about it.

I haven't even started on the avian flus that are found naturally in swine. Of course, you're already aware of the dangers of mixing a large concentration of swine in amongst a large concentration of birds, right Jim?

Another study for you Jim, in regards to avian HA viruses -- "These results show that the receptor-binding specificity of the HA is altered early after the transmission of an avian virus to humans and pigs and, therefore, may be a prerequisite for the highly effective replication and spread which characterize epidemic strains."

Yes Jim, you've probably already read some of the many vetrinary tutorials out there on the subject of avian flus and swine.

The Grey Book on Animal Disease: "Swine appear to be important in the epidemiology of infection of turkeys with swine influenza virus when they are in close proximity."

Jim... did you forget about the wild turkeys and quail running around this area?

Now let's take a little journey into antibiotic resistent pathogens. (Keep in mind, Jim, they feed a LOT of drugs to these pigs and plenty of it will be excreted into the manure pits.)

- check out "Occurrence and Diversity of Tetracycline Resistance Genes in Lagoons and Groundwater Underlying Two Swine Production Facilities"

There's a WHOLE LOT more studies similar to the above. Just search the journals, Jim.

What about other diseases and/or pathogens?

Here's something you might want to read, Jim:

Infectious Swine Hepatitis E Virus Is Present in Pig Manure Storage Facilities on United States Farms... Quote from Abstract: "Pit manure slurry is a potential source of HEV infection and for contamination of the environment. Contamination of drinking or surface water with HEV was not found on or near the pig farms."

Whew! It's not in our water (maybe) ...but what about the soil?

What other diseases can pigs carry?

Let's take a quick trip to China's mysterious pig disease that was killing humans earlier this year through this link.

Or here's another study - "Results of this study indicate that swine in the United States harbor STEC that can potentially cause human illness."

Look, maybe you know a lot about Sandhill Cranes, Jim (I'm a bit doubtful) but I'm thinking maybe you don't know a whole lot about concentrated livestock operation manures and the pathogens they carry, so let me help you out even further:

- how about starting here Analyses of Livestock Production, Waste Storage, and Pathogen Levels and Prevalences in Farm Manures

- and another study "...Our results indicate that not incorporating contaminated livestock wastes into soil is a potential intervention measure that may help to limit the spread of zoonotic agents further up the food chain. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to current advice for livestock waste disposal."

- and another study "...concerns have been raised that increased slurry generation as a consequence of more intensive farming practices could lead to increased survival of zoonotic agents in the environment."

- and another study "The long-term survival of E. coli O157:H7 in manure emphasizes the need for appropriate farm waste management to curtail environmental spread of this bacterium..."

- and another study "Overall, the diversity in E. coli populations in manure slurry storage facilities is significant..."

There are hundreds more studies, Jim, but I don't want to overwhelm you.

Now, there was one particular comment you made that really UPSET me. It is most CERTAINLY NOT something anyone charged with the responsibility of protecting our wildlife should ever say:

"Recently, Bergens said, endangered whooping cranes have joined the migration path. Some of them have been found in Jasper County as recently as mid-November. They are part of a 'nonessential experimental' project, Bergens said. 'If something were to happen to these birds,' Bergens said about the whooping cranes, 'they're not essential to the actual wild population.'"

I'm wondering if both Jim Bergens and Malcolm DeKryger, Belstra’s vice president, think the same way about "the small population of people in the surrounding area."

Looks like they BOTH completely forgot about the thousands of people who visit the Game Reserve each year, directly in the path of those warm summer breezes that blow up from the south. Kinda seems to me like the entire State of Indiana might be opening itself up for some Common Law civil suits on this issue once the hog factory is in operation.

But, I'm no lawyer. And I'm no scientist. And even more important, I'm not the person in charge of protecting wildlife and/or tax-paying voting residents in this region, or the many visitors to this area.

Jim, on the other hand, is going to have an awful stink to deal with (pardon the pun)...

Hey Jim, I'm thinking it's time for you to take a long sabatical, go back to school and freshen up on a few of those many courses you claim to have taken, and while you're gone, how about letting someone who REALLY CARES about our wildlife step up to manage the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area game reserve.

Would you like me to put in a recommendation for you with your boss, Glen Salmon (Director/Division of Fish & Wildlife/DNR), to see if it will help you take the time off for this important study? I'd be happy to!

Uh-oh, on second thought Jim, we might not find much luck with Glen's support for you to take time off and learn more about this situation. You see -- I just read a copy of the letter Glen sent to IDEM regarding approval of this whole mess. Hmmm... maybe I should post a copy here for the public to read.

What do you say, fellow Netizens? Would you like me to post a copy Glen's letter to IDEM here?

Place your VOTE in the comments section.



kmyers said...

p.s. I just heard the word that the Associated Press has picked up on the story. If you have a link to anything they write about this important issue, please post it here. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Love your site. I am a moron too. Yeah Bush in Iraq!