Sunday, December 31, 2006

dead duck conspiracy

It all started when a hunter found a handful of dead ducks along Land Creek Springs, about 150 miles southeast of Boise, on Friday, Dec. 8/2006. By the following Wednesday, the count was up to 1,000 dead mallard ducks. By Thursday, it grew to 2,500 ...and at least one report has the final count at 3,400 dead ducks.

Photo courtesy of Idaho Fish and Game Department

Eventually, the official cause of death came out on the newswires:
The official cause of death is acute aspergillosis, a respiratory tract infection caused by a fungus commonly found in soil, dead leaves, moldy grain, compost piles, or in other decaying vegetation. It can cause respiratory tract infections in birds that inhale the spores.

"It's not contagious to people, not something for people to worry about. It's a relatively common waterfowl disease. It happens around the country every year," said Tom Hemker, state wildfowl manager.
It's almost like they were saying -- "Nothing to see here. You can all go home. Move along now."

But then one blog had an interesting discussion heat up as one scientist, one medical doctor and one anti-cafo contributor started bringing forth further facts in the case.

Questions were raised:
"The first being the FACT that the local Sheriff's office was kept absolutely out of the loop. WHY? ...According to published news reports, the ONLY way the Sheriff was getting ANY information was through the media outlets. That, in my mind is very telling.)"

"Secondly, WHY is the Idaho State Department of Agriculture involved? Could it have something to do with the fact that there are several VERY large Dairy CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) nearby."
In her lengthy post, the commenter also added:
"If anyone doesn't believe that ISDA is the MASTER of coverup, then do a google search on Washington County and take a look. Twenty two PRIVATE domestic wells were contaminated by a feedlot called Sunnyside. ISDA DENIED the contamination was coming from the feedlot. The neighbors sent water samples to a Scientist with the University of New York at Buffalo... It was ONLY when these test results were made public that ISDA FINALLY ADMITTED THAT THE SOURCE OF THE CONTAMINATION WAS INDEED THE FEEDLOT." (See this link regarding that particular story.)
Another commenter who is "a well-published researcher in M. avium with appropriate credentials" addressed her post with more questions on the subject of cause of death:
"Alma is hitting some serious paydirt with her confined Animal Feeding Operations thought."
And further review of this commenter's posts implicated that something in addition to the aspergillosis spores had to be present in order for such a massive (and presumably fast) mortality to occur in such a concentrated area. The commenter suggests tuberculosis might have been found as well, if acid-tests had also been performed on the dead birds.
"By the way MYCObacterial infections include tuberculosis and leprosy. Tuberculosis can be found in not only humans, but cattle and birds (fowl tuberculosis or Mycobacteria avium). In fact it can be found in all warm-blooded vertebrates and also in human, cattle and bird sewage.) It is also a known disease due to overcrowding, in eiher man or animals. Repeatedly, Mycobacterium avium or fowl tuberculosis has been isolated in the form of a subspecies called Mycobacteria paratuberculosis in the intestines of man, and cattle."
And so began my own little journey through Google, where I found this document from the The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Department of Veterinary Pathology, in which CASE 1 involving a mallard duck death where
"Mycobacterium avium was isolated from the lung, liver and humerus."
The report confirms what the scientist on the blog referenced above was stating --
"Aspergillosis is a common opportunistic infection and should be the top differential when fungi are identified in lesions lining airways. Conidiophores are specialized structures from which asexual spores, or conidia, arise. The end of the conidiophore forms a terminal vesicle which develops sterigmata (phialides) from which chains of conidia are produced. Only if the Aspergillus is growing in a cavity with airspace can it form a 'fungus ball' in which conidia and conidiophores are frequently observed.

The moderator stressed the need to run acid-fast stains on all granulomatous lesions in birds and reptiles in order to detect mycobacterial infections which might otherwise be attributed to an opportunistic infection."
And then I tripped across yet another study involving -- mallard ducks -- of all things... a mass duckling death that occurred in Georgia on a game preserve farm. In this case, just as in the Idaho duck case, Aspergillosis was present in the autopsies, but interestingly the actual cause of death was traced further back from the fungus infection to the "stress" inducer -- namely, E. coli contamination.
"...Aspergillosis has been sporadically reported in multiple free-ranging avian species and, although it may be attributed to an initial debilitating/immunocompromizing insult, it is often the only infectious agent identified. For the 2-wk-old mallard ducklings, the straw litter may have been a contributing factor as the dust created a medium upon which E. coli and Aspergillus spores could attach. Inhalation of the aerosolized dust, created by the ducklings' movements, likely resulted in the introduction of the bacteria and fungal spores into the air sacs.

In summary, good husbandry is a key factor in managing captive-born mallards. Overcrowding, with subsequent gross fecal contamination and poor ventilation were the primary factors in these birds deaths. Further, water contamination of E. coli can pose a potential threat of human exposure to the facility caretakers and possibly to humans and animals downstream from the facility. Additionally, the potential use of subclinically infected birds as game could potentially affect consumers (hunters and their families) either during the cleaning and cooking process or if the meat is undercooked. This case study highlights the importance of good husbandry in facilities that raise captive mallards for game preserves."
Next, let's go to a pet care website where one vet states,
"Aspergillosis is the most common fungal infection in birds caused by aspergella fumigates. Although birds are commonly exposed to the spores of this fungus, they develop the disease only under certain conditions. If a bird's immune system is suppressed by a concurrent illness, malnutrition or stress, it may become sick after exposure. Stress-induced Aspergillosis is frequently seen in birds subjected to surgery, reproduction, environmental changes, capture, confinement or shipping.

Aspergella, as well as other fungi, grows readily in damp, dark conditions with poor ventilation. Encrusted fecal matter, damp feed, dirty feeding utensils and food that falls through cage grates all encourage mold growth. Interestingly, we see a high incidence of Aspergillosis in birds in the southwest where the environment is dry and not conducive to fungal replication. The speculation is the low humidity, coupled with the dusty environment, interferes with the normal mucous secretion in the birds' respiratory tracts and predisposes them to mycoses."
So, in several scientific journals, pathology reports, vetrinary reports and more, it appears the experts are telling us that, in most cases, some other "stressor" has to be present before the Aspergillosis can become invasive enough to cause such a wide-spread death.

Now, we have the formal report from Idaho Fish and Game:
"State and federal officials have confirmed that about 2,500 mallard ducks found dead southeast of Burley, died of an acute fungus infection.

The official cause of death is acute aspergillosis, a respiratory tract infection caused by a fungus commonly found in soil, dead leaves, moldy grain, compost piles, or in other decaying vegetation."

And we have reports, even from the US Army, that in order for this to be the cause of death, another stressor should be present (ie tuberculosis, or e. coli, etc. etc.).

With that in mind, you really have to wonder... if there really is a conspiracy, who is at the helm?

They are calling it an outbreak, and...
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped with the investigation of this outbreak. As well as Dept. of Homeland Security in regards to testing for H5N1. And even, U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center -- QUOTE:

The chances are "extremely high" that Aspergillosis, which can create a fungal toxin on moldy grains and rotting corn, caused the mass die-off, Paul Slota, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., told The Associated Press.

Aspergillosis will not spread from bird to bird. All the dead mallards probably ate from the same tainted food source, Slota said.

"We've seen that before with birds that feed heavily on grains," he said. "Never in Idaho, but there have been enough reports elsewhere in North America. Aspergillosis die-offs are not a terribly uncommon thing. It happens."
Never in Idaho... hmmmm... which brings up a question of what happened to the 500 mallards that died the previous year in Iowa?

I also refer back to the F&W quote, "It's not contagious to people, not something for people to worry about. It's a relatively common waterfowl disease."Now why would he say that when spores that cause Aspergillosis have also been found by the Center for Disease Control to be...
"Ubiquitous in the environment. Found in soil, decomposing plant matter, household dust, building materials, ornamental plants, items of food, and water."
And a Merck drug site states,
"Aspergillus is very common and is frequently found in compost heaps, air vents, and airborne dust. Inhalation of Aspergillus spores is the primary cause of aspergillosis.

Aspergillosis usually affects open spaces in the body, such as cavities that have formed in the lungs from preexisting lung diseases. The infection may also occur in the ear canals and sinuses."
Interestingly enough, in the Idaho dead duck case, they haven't found the supposed source of the supposed contaminated grain.

And here in Jasper County, 4 out of 5 BZA members believe a calf farm located in the center of more than 800 homes poses no public health threat whatsoever. And for the record, the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Manager, Jim Bergen, believes manure from a hog CAFO won't have any effect on wildlife, either. What do 2500 dead Sandhill Cranes look like? (shudder)

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thousands of mallards dying

A lot of people have said, "What if you're wrong? What if all that manure being spread on the ground in the heart of an International Migratory Bird Flyway really doesn't hurt those birds at all?"

Frankly, I'm hoping I really AM WRONG. I'm praying that I am wrong.

In fact, I hope it isn't CAFO manure that caused the death of thousands of mallard ducks reported this month (Dec. 14/2006) in Idaho. QUOTE:
"Wildlife officials are calling the massive die-off alarming, with the number of dead mallards rising from 1,000 Tuesday to more than 2,000 by Wednesday afternoon." (link)
As I read the news article, this quote caught my eye:
"Preliminary findings by state veterinarians suggest the mallards succumbed to a bacterial infection, officials said. They said it was unclear why a similar outbreak had never before occurred in Idaho."
The U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center stated that the only mallard die-off roughly equivalent in recent years happened in Waterloo, Iowa in 2005, when 500 ducks died from a fungus.

Now, I know researchers will NOT implicate livestock manure in any way... I've noticed a trend where vetrinary scientists always do their best to NOT implicate livestock operations in most research of this nature. Hey, it's just my observations -- not fact. Who knows, maybe there are studies that prove otherwise.

But what I am saying, have said repeatedly, you can't keep dumping more and more tons of pathogen-laden manure on more and more and more ground throughout the USA and not expect something to happen -- sooner or later.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Gloves are Off in Jasper County

Citizens for Responsible Government... that's the orange flyers that were being passed around during the meeting tonight. They'll be setting up a website soon where you can contact them, and they're looking for volunteers now. If you're interested in making positive changes happen in our area -- you definitely want to be a part of this. Contact me if you want me to put you in touch with the organizers...

Meanwhile, back to the meeting tonight.

Nine uniformed police officers were stationed at various points inside the building. At least one police car was outside patrolling the parking area... there may have been more -- not sure.

And as you might have already guessed, the BZA ruled, yet again, in favor of this new CAFO trashing our neighborhoods.

Yes, there were protests made when the CAFO rep was given free reign to give, what appeared to the crowd as a full blown presentation -- that was stopped quickly by the opposition lawyers, not the BZA lawyer.

Yes, there were considerable feelings of disappointment, disgust, anger and more rippling through the audience.

Yes, there will be appeals...

The vote regarding whether or not the new proposed Veal calf operation would endanger public health: 4 to 1 -- 4 saying it would not, 1 saying it would.

The vote regarding whether or not it would take away from surrounding area residents' enjoyment of their properties: 4 to 1 -- 4 saying it would not interfere with residents, 1 saying it would.

The vote regarding whether or not it would negatively impact property values, etc.: 3 to 2 -- 3 saying it would not, 2 saying it would.

The vote regarding infrastructures already being in place for the planned facility: 5 said they were already in place.

The vote regarding egress and ingress: 5 said they were already in place.

In other words -- it's been voted in -- by people who don't live anywhere near where this facility is going -- people who don't drink our water -- people who don't have to breath our air -- people who don't have to smell it, hear it, live with it in and day out.

Three of those five people had every intention of voting in favor of the CAFO on all issues. Don't ask me how I know this. Ask them. More specifically, ask John Korniak. Don't expect the truth. You'll have to dig deep for that... and all his connections to CAFOs and more.

Those 3 men have placed my family in harms way.

Whatever the future brings, should anything serious happen as a result of this decision tonight, my hope is that they will be held accountable.

And now, I have some very serious questions for IDEM, since they used the excuse that IDEM regulates these CAFOs so well as part of their reasoning to allow this one to go forward. In fact, I have a few questions regarding the hog farm as well. Hi Jon... yes, I noticed you standing there.

Now, I'm not a hoosier by birth. My husband is. My son is. Here's a curious question...

What happens when you push a hoosier up against the wall and threaten his livelihood, his family, his home?

2007 the year of responsibility and accountability

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, tonight -- Dec. 27, 2006 -- at 7:00 pm CST at the Jasper County Fairgrounds ... the BZA will announce their decision on the Special Exception Permit requested by Mark Shuringa and Gilbert Den Dulk.

I also mentioned that I'd like to look hopefully to the new year ahead as being the "year of responsibility and accountability" in regards to CAFOs -- both present and proposed -- for the State of Indiana.

Accountability -- responsibility -- Indiana Government ...

I'm guessing the year ahead will be a wake-up call for many different reasons as the Federal Government steps in to take stronger actions in preparation for the 2008 elections.

It's already happening...

For one example, on October 5, 2006 the Federal EPA announced, QUOTE:
"In an important action to protect the health and environment of its citizens, the city of Indianapolis signed a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make more than $1.86 billion in improvements to curb overflows from its sewer system." (link)
What's important to note about this particular case is that, even though no one (to their knowledge) had gotten sick as a result of the deficiencies in the Indianapolis sewer system, the Federal EPA stepped in anyway because it has been proven elsewhere that the situation could lead to outbreaks in disease. Quote:
"Although EPA is not aware of any health problems from sewage overflow in Indianapolis, nationwide, sewer overflows can lead to outbreaks of disease from such substances as E.coli bacteria and cryptosporidium."
Now, I've already brought up calf manure issues relating to c. parvum (aka cryptosporidium) and E. coli -- on more than one occassion in this blog.

I've also provided links to scientific studies directly linking calf manure to these same health risks, including the dangers as they relate to shallow wells, public waters, etc., etc.

But the burden of proof as it pertains to public health threats/risks does not rest on my shoulders...

One of the duties of due diligence the BZA must perform before reaching their final decision is the public health risk/threat-potential for the proposed calf factory at this location. To ignore this issue would be a violation of public trust, in my humble opinion.

The burden of proof that this proposed calf operation poses absolutely no threat to public health rests on their shoulders.

I'm hoping they have done their due diligence.

Because, you see, if they haven't done their homework, there are other entities out there right now doing homework of their own. Quote:
"Investigations by Federal and State agents have turned up a number of cases of inappropriate procedures and fraud that have the potential to affect human health. Because of the complexities of evaluating the effects of data manipulations and falsifications that occurred in several of the laboratory fraud cases, the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigators have been unable to determine the actual health risks and magnitude of population affected." (link)
The report provides details of investigations into EPA and/or State certified public water testing laboratories in our nation. The number of fraud cases is on the rise. I wonder if any Indiana laboratories are under investigation?

Until I started reading through the EPA cases completed in recent years, I had no idea that they had Special Agents. One particular case on the long list of Environmental actions caught my eye, about "Conspiracy to Violate Environmental Laws" ...this is new terminology to me.

What would fall under that category?

Would separating large CAFOs into smaller groups under separate legal ownership (connected by marriage) to avoid more stringent Federal regulations qualify? Would filing for environmental permits indicating 4-head under Federal regulating guidelines while building a facility to contain 1,000-head over Federal regulating guidelines qualify? I don't know. I'm no lawyer.

I didn't hear an answer from the BZA on the hog farm permits, and the strange number of 2,496 swine (2500 would place them under Federal environmental requirements i.l.o. State regulations)... and I didn't get a satisfactory answer in the IDEM response on the same subject. Maybe I need to ask the OIG?

See you tonight, 7 pm CST, at the Jasper County Fairgrounds where the BZA will announce their decision regarding the Special Exception Permit.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

See you tomorrow night

The third (and final?) meeting on the proposed conversion of the Poultry CAFO to a Veal Calf CAFO will be held tomorrow, Dec. 27, 2006, at 7:00 pm CST at the Jasper County Fairgrounds ... where the BZA will announce their decision on the Special Exception Permit requested by Mark Shuringa and Gilbert Den Dulk.

As the next meeting approaches and the year 2006 is quickly coming to an end, I'd like to look hopefully to the new year ahead as being the "year of responsibility and accountability" in regards to CAFOs -- both present and proposed for our State.

This past year, it was the Food Industry that had to step up to the plate and answer serious questions regarding food safety. However, the E. coli outbreaks (from contaminated spinach and contaminated lettuce) have been steadily drawing attention "back to the farm" -- where some experts believe public health and safety is increasingly at higher risk.

Manure is becoming a serious issue, not just as it relates to environmental pollution, but also as it relates to public health risks. For example, "More than 150 known enteric pathogens may be present in the untreated wastes, and one new enteric pathogen has been discovered every year over the past decade." (link)

The general population is just now waking up to what has been happening to farming over the past few decades. What will they think when they start learning more? (Read this report regarding emerging food-borne diseases.)

What pressures will people place on governments everywhere in regards to accountability and responsibility? The Farm Bill of Rights may give several environmental and nuisance protections to the Big Agriculture ...but I sincerely believe people won't let it stand in the way of public health and safety issues.

At this next Jasper County BZA meeting, a pivotal decision will be made affecting Walker Township.

Meanwhile, the year 2007 could be the year where "hoosiers" everywhere step up to the plate to remind public officials who they really work for in Indiana. And it just might be the year Mitch Daniels receives his wake-up call.

See you tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Senator Brandt Hershman weighs in on the CAFO issue

Just when you think no one is listening... when you think you're all alone, feeling like David facing Goliath, at least one Government representative is stepping up to the plate.

Meet Senator Brandt Hershman: Majority Caucus Whip
He's on the following Committees:

- Utilities & Regulatory Affairs, Chairman
- Rules & Legislative Procedure, R.M.
- Tax & Fiscal Policy
- Energy & Environmental Affairs
- Agriculture & Small Business

And in his own words quoted from this letter, he states, QUOTE:
"As someone with a 150 year family history in agriculture and a clear understanding of the challenges facing the successful merging of residential growth and preserving our agricultural heritage, I understand the difficulty you face with respect to the Schuringa CAFO. To this point, I have not expressed a position on the issue because of my respect for the role of the BZA in making this decision. However, comments made at the recent public forum regarding my sponsorship of Indiana's agricultural nuisance law may have given the appearance that I support the application for a special exception. For the record, I do not support the exception."
Does this mean we're actually being heard this time? It appears Senator Hershman has been doing some research on the subject of this CAFO, as he further states in the document -- QUOTE:
"A number of CAFO’s have been approved in Jasper County with little or no opposition, primarily, I believe, due to the rural character of the tracts. This is not the case with the Schuringa application. While much discussion has focused on the newer subdivisions in the area, and their written acceptance of agricultural operations via covenants, these new homes represent only a small percentage of the homeowners in the area. Twenty eight subdivisions with approximately 500 lots exist within 1.5 miles of the Schuringa farm. Many of these homes are located in residentially zoned areas, and pre-date the construction of the poultry CAFO. Their interests need to be considered as well."
Again, many people have been under the mistaken assumption that most residents in the area of this proposed Special Exception are new to the area. Just as our family is not new to this area, in fact 5 generations of our family have resided in this very same home, many of the subdivisions in the near vicinity of this particular proposed veal calf CAFO have also been around long before the poultry farm ever existed.

Although I take exception with his wording that... "A number of CAFO’s have been approved in Jasper County with little or no opposition, primarily, I believe, due to the rural character of the tracts." (Where was he when thousands of people protested the HOG CAFO that went in 2500 feet from my front steps??) ...still, I'm glad he -- at least -- appreciates the fact that this is definitely THE WRONG SITE to place a veal calf operation!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Property Values & the CAFO spin

Last Monday, at the BZA meeting, I recall a pro-CAFO comment indicating property values don't decline... that many values actually increased around Fair Oaks.

I don't know about that. But what I do know is this...

While the hog CAFO was under construction, we had an appraiser at our house -- this was before the construction was complete, before the BZA made it's final decision, before they sealed the fate of our property value.

The appraiser gave us a "ballpark" estimate while in our home. It was significantly higher than the previous estimate back in the late 90's -- due to the tremendous amount of work my husband had completed on our home. His is a labor of love... as I mentioned previously, this home and land has been in his family for 5 generations now.

But, the appraiser said he had to check surrounding values before committing any estimate to writing.

A month rolled by... then two... the hog farm got its Special Exception permit and was open for business ...and still we hadn't heard from the appraiser. Several months later after numerous requests for the written appraisal, the appraiser sent our money back. He could not hold to his previous estimate in writing.

So please, don't tell me a CAFO has no negative effects on nearby residential property values.

But, for those of you living near a CAFO, did you know about the "Right of Exclusion" laws in the USA? This is information that even surprised me when I started reading through it today. Quote:
"Right of Exclusion

The right of exclusion -- often called the right of exclusive use or right of exclusive enjoyment -- provides that those who have no claim on property should not gain economic benefit from enjoyment of the property.

In other words, the right of use is exclusive to the property owner, and any violation of the right of exclusive use typically carries either payment of compensation to the rightful owner or assessment of a penalty. For example, if "A" trespasses on land owned by "B," then "A" will be guilty of a crime and a possible criminal penalty may be in order, as well as civil damages. Physical impairment, such as the odor or flies, in effect is a trespass on property rights and violates the right of exclusion.

Society places a high value on the right of exclusion, for justifiable reasons. Exclusion provides that both the current benefits of ownership as well as future benefits accrue only to the rightful owner, and his/her successors and assigns.

In the absence of exclusion, the right of use is under constant threat of nullification without just compensation. In an economy without the right of exclusion, property owners would adopt short-term strategies for use, rather than long-term strategies. In an economic sense, this would lead to widespread inefficiency in the allocation of resources.

Hence, the right of exclusion carries with it a significant societal good, and thus a significant, societally recognized Value."
Interesting... Here's the link for those wishing to learn more.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"An Angry Mop"

The day after the Dec. 11, 2006 BZA meeting, our little boy was playing one of many computer strategy games on my husband's computer. I was in the kitchen when I heard him chanting loudly...

"Angry mop! Angry mop! Angry mop!"

I thought, "What in the world...?"

When I asked him, he explained,

"See that group of good guys? That's a angry mop. See that group of bad guys? That's a angry mop, too. The angry mops get together and fight and that's how I win the game..."

In a 6-year-old's mind, an angry mop can solve a lot.

As a housewife, I have a different vision of what an angry mop is. It's when you tackle the floors in your house with a heavy mop. After you've finished, you're left with sparkling clean floors and an incredlibly fresh smelling house.

But I digress...

I went to the meeting last Monday night -- not to fight -- but to watch, to listen, and to learn.

Here's what I learned from the meeting:

1. The proposed facility is intended to be a veal calf operation, not a dairy calf operation... although it may house some dairy heifers in addition to mostly male calves.

This is important information for several reasons, some of which I will be writing about in the weeks ahead.

2. The watershed in our area is unique ...and apparently very precious and rare... as the hydrology expert pointed out in his presentation. Even though I already knew many of us are forced to use shallow wells owing to the geological make-up of our area, I had no idea our aquifer is that close to the land's surface.

It's more fragile than even I had first considered... and gives me even more consternation about the health risk potential any CAFO brings to our region.

The recent e. coli in spinach scare comes to mind.

As does the Walkerton, Ontario incident in 2000 where 6 people died...

And the Cryptosporidium parvum outbreak in Milwaukee, WI, 1993 from which it's estimated 50 to 70 people died...

and other equally disturbing cases.

To a mother with a young child... hearing this information about our aquifer, seeing it presented so clearly protective instincts were "silently screaming" inside.

I simply can't help thinking how crazy it is to allow tens of thousands of tons of bacteria-laden manure to be dumped every year on that shallow shell of sand and gravel separating us from our water -- millions of tons when you consider some of the other CAFOs that have already forced their way in here amidst public protest. In my humble opinion -- it's insane!!

Where are the public health officials in all of this?! Who is protecting us???

3. I also learned that, although the amount of major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) will not increase by the switch from 350,000 poultry (actually 345,500) to 10,000 calves, the overall volume of manure will increase.

By how much?

I wasn't sure, because the numbers presented were for a dairy operation, so I requested further info from the Purdue expert that attended the BZA meeting. The answer I received indicated that there would be, a whopping 241% increase in the volume of manure!!

"Using manure production numbers provided by the Midwest Plan Service, we estimate total manure production to be as follows:

350,000 Laying Hens = 9,581 tons/year

10,000 Beef Calves= 32,712 tons/year (i.e., +241% increase)

Please note that the amount of major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) will not increase; however, the mass of the manure, heavy metal, antibiotics, hormones, etc., are all likely to increase."
In other words, you can expect the total volume of contaminants to increase by 241% an area where the watershed lays very close to the land surface.

4. I learned there are a great many more people in this area that are opposed to the calf operation than I had first thought, as evidenced by the number of people who showed up, and many who lined up at the mic to express their opposition publicly for the record.

5. I learned that some members of the BZA did not appear very interested in much of the information presented by groups in opposition to the calf CAFO, and that they could be quite obvious about it -- astonishingly obvious.

Their lack of respect towards many of the presenters and the citizens in attendance was pointed out in a very severe reprimand given to some members of the BZA panel by a member of the Wheatfield planning board. His comments stated "for the record" were followed by very loud cheers from the audience.

Now, I had to leave the meeting on 2 occasions.

Once, when the lawyer for one of the CAFO-opposition groups got up to do his presentation. My son was extremely restless, and before he could become disruptive to those sitting near us, I left with him so he could get a drink of water and get some fresh air outside.

I wish I could have heard everything the lawyer had to say. My apologies for not being able to bring you specifics on his presentation.

We returned near the end of the lawyer's presentation... and sat by ourselves at the back of the auditorium so as not to disturb those down in front. My husband remained down in front, closer to the stage.

The second time was when people lined up to voice their stance publicly for the record with their 2-minute time alotment "granted" by the BZA speaker. After about 50 or 60 people had their say, my son, who had just woken up from a brief nap "had to go" ...most parents out there know what that means.

Sidenote: My son was woken up by the booming voice of the BZA speaker shouting at the audience yet again, trying so desperately to make it appear as though he had an unruly mob on his hand. He's a strange man, that one.

I rushed to the front to tell my husband I would be taking our son to the washroom and then out to wait in the truck.

We were both asleep in the truck when my husband appeared about an hour later. The meeting still wasn't over... that was close to midnight. Needless to say, we had to get our son home to bed.

So we missed the private conference held onstage ...and the final announcement that the Special Exception Permit would be "tabled" until a later date -- Dec. 27th, according to one astute reporter who got a picture of the "private mics-off mini conference" held on the stage.

Hmmmm... There are some Govt. appointed officials that could lose their jobs for doing that at a public meeting in Canada. It's interesting to see the differences between Canadian laws for public meetings and USA laws.

Now, back to the "angry mop" thing...

A cell phone rang out in the auditorium late in the meeting (before I left with our son) at which point the BZA Speaker harshly reprimanded the citizens about turning off their cell phones -- again trying to sound like he was addressing an unruly angry mob. Sheesh! He should have been an actor. The police officer who answered the call on his cell phone was out in the hall at the time of the reprimand.

I left the meeting with more questions ringing in my mind that I think need to be "cleaned up" with an angry mop. Questions like,

1. Why is it that every time the BZA speaker chose to rebuke the audience, his eyes fell on those opposed to the CAFO, and avoided the small group of CAFO supporters near the front? Was this a "grandstanding" play? He must have felt very powerful, indeed. I think he needs to clean up his act.

2. Why is it that one specific BZA member can stubbornly refuse to watch ANY AND ALL presentations brought forth by experts called on behalf of those opposing the operation ...and then still be allowed to vote on whether or not this calving operation can proceed? His attitude was extremely childish, in my humble opinion. Who appointed him to the Board? I think they need to clean house and replace him, and possibly replace the govt. official who appointed him.

2. Why were 4 policemen -- yes, FOUR -- called to be in attendance? Are they trying to make out like we're nothing but an angry mob? Sure, applause became loud on occassion. And yes, even a few pro-CAFO people who stepped up to the mic were interrupted by rumblings from the crowd ...but I can assure you, even though everyone living near the planned calving CAFO are clearly upset by the threats they perceive this CAFO will bring to this community, they were NOT in ANY WAY acting like an irrational angry mob. Who specifically requested 4 police officers? And why?

3. What are the REAL plans for this calving CAFO? You see, they have applied for an IDEM permit that indicates they will have 5,000 calves. Then they present to the BZA meeting that they intend to have 10,000 -- 5,000 in the existing poultry barns (after modifications to the barns are made) plus another 5,000 to be housed elsewhere on the property.

And I got really tired of how, almost gleefully, the CAFO lawyer pointed out that residents and property ownders in the two subdivisions in the immediate vicinity of this CAFO signed waivers of their rights to complain regarding agricultural operations. It's like he completely ignored the rest of us residents who signed absolutely nothing at all.

I'm still not clear on where they plan to house the additional 5,000 calves, or what their true intentions are for this calving operation.

I think the CAFO owners need to "clean up their act" and submit clear, specific plans outlining their intentions for this CAFO as well as more detailed and specific information regarding their plans of operation for minimizing their impact on area residents and their public health-risk prevention measures. The tree buffer was a nice touch, but it comes nowhere close to addressing potential risks and/or threats to our water, in my humble opinion...

I hate that moronic "easy-out" about their intent to use "best management practices" as per state guidelines. That doesn't tell me a thing in regards to the unique -- and rare -- nature of our acquifer. Maybe they addressed it after I left?

4. And another question... Who is really going to be the owner/operator of this operation? Is it going to be a partnership between Mark Shuringa and Gilbert den Dulk? Relatives and/or family friends of Mark Shuringa swear he has nothing to do with the calving operation... that he's just trying to sell off his egg farm because it has suffered severe financial losses in recent years.

Do the other Den Dulk operations (such as their Michigan farms and their Fair Oaks farms) have anything to do with ownership and/or overseeing this operation?

Speaking to one reporter recently, the reporter mentioned that Gilbert den Dulk swears this CAFO has nothing to do with the other Den Dulk operations -- that it's not related in any way. And yet, at the meeting I'm quite certain I heard the CAFO lawyer state that the calves would be coming from many places, including Fair Oaks and Michigan.

5. And lastly for this blog post, but not the last of the many questions I have remaining, particularly in regards to the bacteria in that mountain of manure -- 241% more manure -- why is it that 5 people who don't live anywhere near to my home have the power to decide whether or not my family is put in harms way?

In a democracy, majority rules -- doesn't it?

If we put it to a referendum in this area for people residing in Walker Township to vote on, do you think this CAFO would be approved?

In my personal and humble opinion, I think we need to take an "angry mop" to laws currently in place here in Jasper County, and in other Indiana counties ...change laws that seem to fail miserably in the areas of prevention, and in some cases even strip residents of their rights ...maybe we should require that CAFO approvals go to a referendum and not be left in the hands of people who don't live anywhere near where they are to be located ...clean house to better serve and protect public health and public interests.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Quick BZA Meeting update

Here's the first news article link I've receieved regarding last night's BZA Meeting.

The article begins:
"RENSSELAER - The Jasper County Board of Zoning Appeals voted at the end of a heated five-hour meeting Monday night to table a proposal that would allow an enclosed farm to change ownership and switch from chicken to calf production.

"There was just too much information given for them to make a good decision," said Pat Price, 54, of DeMotte.

The decision proved anticlimactic for the dwindling crowd, which began the evening by filling nearly to capacity Rensselaer Central High School's 600-seat auditorium. The venue was chosen after the board's vote, originally scheduled for Nov. 13, was postponed and moved from the Jasper County Courthouse due to an unexpectedly high turnout.

The board will again attempt to vote on the matter Dec. 27 at the Jasper County Fairgrounds."
Super busy here today... I'll be back later with my personal comments.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jasper County CAFO BZA Meeting Tonight

The BZA Meeting regarding the proposed calving CAFO is tonight.

Time: 7 pm CST
Location: Rennselaer High School (out by the hospital)

Parking is available on the North side and the East side of the high school.

See you there.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tomorrow we find out...

The Chinese have a saying...

"May you live in interesting times."

Well, guess what?

We are living in "interesting times" today - especially in Jasper County, Indiana.

This is an important time in the history of Jasper County.

At a time when sugar plums should be dancing in children's heads, when pleasant thoughts of hope, love and generousity should be ringing through our homes -- warming hearts and minds -- those who care about what that future will become for our children are scrambling to stop the onward CAFO march from swallowing up their heritage... devouring their dreams of good clean country living for their children -- and their children's children.

In Mitch's view, he's bringing jobs to Indiana by embracing CAFOs, encouraging them to settle here.

Considering the large number of CAFOs that have raced to take him up on his invitation, why is it that in 2004 reporters revealed so many Hoosiers are getting poorer ...?

Do the economic benefits truly exist for area residents?

Some experts strongly disagree.

Some area residents have also indicated that "the more land that is snatched up by CAFOs in this county, the more people are forced to search for work in other counties."

The smaller farms are disappearing, taking jobs with them. Communities located near large CAFOs are discovering first-hand how difficult it is to attract other industries and businesses to their area.

As for attracting new residents, quite frankly, who really wants to live next to a CAFO?

At tomorrow's BZA meeting, you will meet many who DON'T.

An equally important issue to consider is: what can we expect regarding the future condition of the land we pass down to our children?

Even years after Dairy CAFOs have been abandoned, high concentrations of phospherus can remain in the soils where they have spread their manure.

In fact, science has already shown that "Repeated manure application can lead to excessive soil test P (STP) levels and increased P concentration in runoff..."

Experts already know it can take decades to clean up impaired water bodies. Ask IDEM how long it is taking to clean our ditches, streams, rivers and lakes. Even better, ask them how many they've managed to fix vs how many more have become impaired over the past 5 years.

They know about the black shale that exists in our area.

They know about the sandy conditions ...the shallow wells many of us are forced to use owing to the geological make-up of northwestern Jasper County.

And they also know...

"Farming systems have intensified greatly over time, and in recent years it has become apparent that the concomitant increase in losses of N and P from agricultural land is having a serious detrimental effect on water quality and the environment." (source)

And as much as many would like to believe chlorination can deal with the more dangerous pathogens found in manure that might leach into our water supply, science has already proven this is not always the case.

- "The results of this study demonstrate apparent transmission of C. jejuni among feedlot cattle during the feeding period, unaffected by water chlorination, resulting in a high prevalence of C. jejuni excretion by cattle approaching slaughter."

- "No differences were observed in the fecal or water trough sediment prevalence values of E. coli O157:H7 in 10 pens supplied with chlorinated drinking water supplies compared with nonchlorinated water pens."

- "Water treatment plants cannot usually guarantee to remove all C. parvum from water because the oocysts are very small (4-5 micrometers in diameter) and are resistant to chlorine and other disinfectants."

The explicit instructions on the Center for Disease Control website instructing people to not drink water from shallow wells in areas that may be contaminated with c. parvum without first thoroughly boiling the water, is a clear indication that even health officials can't ignore -- there could be a problem here.

The simple truth is, many pathogens passed on through livestock manure can survive a very long time -- "Culturable E. coli O157 survived for at least 245 days in the microcosm sediments."

"The hazards associated with pathogens in land-applied animal and human wastes have long been recognized."

I don't even want to get into the global warming side of the issue... and yet, the situation is so urgent it deserves mention here. The free report titled, "Livestock's Long Shadow" published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presents a grim picture, indeed. (Thanks to kemplog for bringing this up.)

"Livestock's contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency." Source: Livestock's Long Shadow

For instance, animal agriculture is cited as being the largest contributor to global warming pollutants -- even larger than the transportation sector (ie. cars, trucks, etc.).
"The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent."

And yet, while many CAFOs have managed to secure environment "credits" ...they are not monitored nor charged with the global warming gases they emit.

Now, maybe global warming is not something you like to think about -- and if this is the case, you may want to check out An Inconvenient Truth my husband, it might change your mind.

The land use figures present another daunting picture for the future of our world:

"In all, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet."

This is not news to many scientists. In fact, Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases Technical Reports have been written on the subject of greenhouse gas emissions from Dairy farms before.

What's important to note, is...

Livestock production is expected to double by the year 2,050.

"The environmental impact per unit of livestock production must be cut by half, just to avoid increasing the level of damage beyond its present level."

Changes to livestock production are required TODAY -- not TOMORROW.

Instead of RACING AHEAD TO BUILD MORE AND MORE CAFOs... a line must be drawn in the sand.

It truly is -- TIME TO STOP -- TIME TO THINK -- TIME TO CHANGE THE PICTURE -- we are painting for future generations!

We HAVE to consider the CAFO impact. We HAVE to put new regulations into effect TODAY to protect the future we pass down to our children in Jasper County.

The call for a moratorium on CAFOs in Indiana to assess their impact and risks to public health, to determine new legislations to protect our land, air, water and health, in my humble opinion, is a necessity -- not something to ignore.

If not now... then when?

What are we leaving behind for our children?

What will remain for our grandchildren?

Yes, we are living in interesting times.

To paraphrase a quote, "The choices we make today will shape the future of our communities."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Call To Action

Our little boy wanted to see the online movie that I was watching last night. He jumped up on my lap, then he clicked the mouse to start the movie over.

Watching it, he exclaimed, "Mommy, they're scared! We have to help them. Can't we help those baby cows?"

I told him, "Honey, in many(1) small(2) ways(3) we already are helping them. And when we go to the meeting on Monday night we'll hopefully be helping other baby cows, too."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You Can't Kill It...?

What is C. parvum?

It's one more reason I want to find out what happens at the - meeting on Monday night Dec. 11, 2006 - 7 pm - at the Rennselaer High School.

And it's just one more reason I feel a calf CAFO should NOT go in anywhere near Wolf Creek, ditches, rivers, streams, lakes -- and most important, the A-2 zoned residential subdivisions surrounding the area where this particular CAFO would like to establish itself.

Here's what C. parvum is.

C. parvum (actually called Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts) are a common protozoan parasite that causes disease in humans. The pathogenic potential of the parasite was not fully appreciated until 1982.(1)

Water treatment plants cannot usually guarantee to remove all C. parvum from water because the oocysts are very small (4-5 micrometers in diameter) and because it has a thick outer shell, this particular parasite is highly resistant to disinfectants such as chlorine and iodine.(6)

Does this mean you can't kill it?

Not entirely... C. parvum is inactivated by heat, freezing and drying, heat-treated, frozen and dried foods are thought to be safe, according to one study.

However, in water (such as drinking water, rivers, lakes, streams, etc.), freezing temperatures are not adequate for assuring oocyst elimination.(1) The CDC recommends you bring water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute before using, if you suspect it may be contaminated with C. parvum.(6)


Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic infection (from C. parvum).(2) Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as "crypto." It can be VERY CONTAGIOUS!(6)

In humans it causes
- abdominal pain,
- profuse diarrhoea,
- weight loss,
- loss of appetite and
- anorexia,
but in otherwise healthy individuals the infection is usually self-limiting and resolves within a few weeks (Soave, 1994). "The symptoms may go in cycles in which you may seem to get better for a few days, then feel worse again before the illness ends."(6)

"In immunocompromised patients the infection is more serious; it can become chronic and is sometimes fatal."(1)

For immunocompromised people there is no cure.(1)(6)

A new drug, nitazoxanide, has been approved for treatment of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium in people with healthy immune systems, according to the CDC.(6)

The Indiana Department of Health have indicated that outbreaks have been associated with contaminated drinking water, recreational water venues, consumption of unpasteurized apple cider, and daycare centers. Populations at most risk of developing severe infection include young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.(2)

Here's a chart which shows reported confirmed cases in Indiana(3):

"Cryptosporidiosis represents a classic ‘emerging infection’; previously unknown in such severity, it has become important owing to its potential for fatal outcomes in HIV+ individuals. Since treatments are still in the developmental phase, current control efforts are largely directed at prevention methods."(1)

The Point

One study has indicated that, "on average, fresh fecal material from throughout feedlot systems (recent arrivals to nearing slaughter) contained about 1.3 to 3.6 oocysts/g feces, which roughly translates to about 2.8 x 104 to 1.4 x 105 oocysts/animal per day."(4)

Young calves are the primary source of C. parvum in dairy herds.(2)

Keep in mind, C. parvum oocysts are VERY SMALL, resistant to chlorine and other disinfectants, and survive up to 18 months in cool, damp or wet environments. They are quite common in rivers and lakes, especially where there has been sewage or animal contamination.(1)

The CDC recommends to Avoid water that might be contaminated, as follows:
1. Do not swallow recreational water.
2. Do not drink untreated water from shallow wells, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, and streams.
3. Do not drink untreated water during community-wide outbreaks of disease caused by contaminated drinking water.
4. Do not use untreated ice or drinking water when traveling in countries where the water supply might be unsafe.

On another section of their site:
If you touch a farm animal, particularly a calf, lamb, or other young animal, or visit a farm where animals are raised, wash your hands well with soap and water before preparing food or putting anything in your mouth.(5)

Do you want to see a calving CAFO go in so close to a residential area here in Jasper County?

I don't.

(1) CRYPTOSPORIDIUM PARVUM - A Review of Cryptosporidiosis
(2) Survival of Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts in Calf Housing Facilities in the New York City Watersheds
(3) Indiana Cryptosporidiosis Cases by Year -- 1999 - 2003 and Cryptosporidiosis Cases by Month - Indiana, 2003
(4) Environmental Load of Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts from Cattle Manure in Feedlots from the Central and Western United States
(5) Preventing Cryptosporidiosis: A Guide for People with Compromised Immune Systems
(6) Center for Disease Control (Division of Parasitic Diseases) - Cryptosporidium Infection; Cryptosporidiosis

Other Resources:
- Indiana Department of Health - Cryptosporidiosis 2002
- “Preventing Cryptosporidiosis: A Guide to Water Filters and Bottled Water”
- Release of Cryptosporidium and Giardia from Dairy Cattle Manure

PS: I posted my sources separately instead of embedding the links throughout my post because some people haven't realized the embedded links lead to source info for the educational information I've been posting. I hope that helps them.

PSS: Any information posted in this blog is for educational purposes only and is NOT intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease... but I'm guessing you already knew that, right?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Water - Another Reason to attend this CAFO meeting

No matter where you live in Jasper county, there is one MORE VERY IMPORTANT REASON to attend the BZA CAFO meeting coming up Monday night -- 7:00 pm at the Rensselaer High School...


Weaned dairy heifers (calves) consume approximately 1 to 1.5 gallons
of water per day per 100 pounds of body weight.


According to "Estimating water requirements" Worksheet 1:

And Fresh Water Needs for Dairy Farms

Heifers (calves) Average Weights Are:
16-24 months - 1050 lbs
13-15 months - 800 lbs
9-12 months - 600 lbs
5-8 months - 400 lbs
3-4 months - 250 lbs
0-2 months - 150 lbs

So... take 13,000 calves in a small area, ranging in weight from 150 to 400 pounds... on an average day, you can expect them to drink anywhere from the bare minimum of 19,500 gallons of water (if they all only drank 1 gal/day and were only 150 pounds or less) to as much as 78,000 gallons of water (if they drank 1.5 gal/day and averaged 400 pounds) --- that's just drinking water -- PER DAY!!

If they were all 400 lbs:
1.5 gal x 400 x 13,000 / 100 = 78,000 gallons PER DAY
1 gallon x 400 x 13,000 / 100 = 52,000 gallons PER DAY

If they were all 250 lbs:
1.5 gal x 250 x 13,000 / 100 = 48,750 gallons PER DAY
1 gallon x 250 x 13,000 / 100 = 32,500 gallons PER DAY

If they were all 150 lbs:
1.5 gal x 150 x 13,000 /100 = 29,250 gallons PER DAY
1 gallon x 150 x 13,000 / 100 = 19,500 gallons PER DAY

You can bump those numbers up anywhere from one to three gallons per day per heiffer on hot days where temperatures reach 80 degrees or higher.

So, on a hot summer day when many farmers are irrigating their crops, you can also see anywhere from 39,000 gallons to as much as 234,000 gallons per day being consumed by the calves.

That's just drinking water.

This does NOT count water required for farm maintenance and other parts of their operation. They will not have lagoons to use recycled water for some of the maintenance water requirements like washing pens, etc. Holding pens with sprinkler cow washers can use an average of 47.1 ± 17.7 gallons per cow per day.

If they are intending to use sprinkler cow washers, you can estimate anywhere between another 612,300 gallons to as high as 842,400 gallons of water used -- PER DAY!!

That's just the heifer requirements. I'm not talking about other water uses for day to day operations here. Okay, maybe those estimates for "maintenance use" aren't on the conservative side, and, since they won't be milking at the operation (?) maybe they won't be cleaning the heifers (or sprinkler cooling them) as much as a full blown Dairy CAFO with milking parlors would have to? Not sure...

About our watershed.

Interestingly enough, the location of this facility will be on top of a very unique split in the bedrock system for the Kankakee River Basin (see Water Availability Maps for the lower basin).

The location sits atop what is known as "Devonian Antrim Shale" -- aka black shale.

The few wells completed in this shale unit can only produce less than 15 gallons per minute (gpm), according to DNR Division of Water. DNR Division of Water also state,

"It is an unlikely source for greater amounts of water."

That's the side we live on. It's also the side where the hog CAFO was built this past year, and which is now sucking out tens of thousands of gallons of our freshwater supply -- PER DAY.

The other side sits atop SILURIAN AND DEVONIAN CARBONATE (limestone, dolomite, and dolomitic limestone). This is the principle bedrock aquifer in the Kankakee basin (over by Fair Oaks) and "the only bedrock aquifer capable of supporting high-capacity pumpage." Many large-diameter wells produce 300 to 1000 gallons per minute (gpm), but small-diameter domestic wells produce 10 to 30 gpm.

Now, the original application for this calving operation indicated:

5,000 calves to be housed in the poultry barns and bubble barns for 8,000 more.

This was replaced, I think(?), with a different application for just 5,000 calves. But there was a different application which in total indicated 10,000 calves.

Confusing, right? In my humble opinion, that's just sloppy paperwork in order to rush this deal through.

You can simply adjust the numbers for water requirements accordingly -- but any way you look at it, that's one heck of a heavy burden on our aquifer!

Keep in mind -- these guys (den Dulks) are already sucking HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of gallons of freshwater DAILY from our aquifer over at Fair Oaks.

Maybe they don't know about the bi-State Agreements between Indiana and Illinois regarding this particular watershed.

Maybe they don't know about the water protection laws that were put in place owing to water disputes in Jasper and Newton counties that happened in the past.

Maybe they didn't read the notice sent out to dairy farmers in the midwest warning of drought conditions coming within the next 3 years or less.

Maybe they just don't care?

Personally, I feel they should be paying a water tax (calculated per head of dairy cow) for every single farm they own in Jasper County.

Maybe -- just maybe -- a public official should start counting how many head of cattle they actually house on their farms?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Hope? God Is Watching...

"I saw an udder on one cow that was so gigantic that she had a hard time walking. ...I could tell just by the look on her face that all she wanted to do was lay down and die. It was probably one of the saddest things I've ever seen. She was at the back of the line and the employee [SIC] at the back was cajoling her to move along towards the milking carousel. It looked like it hurt her to move with every step. I'm sure she's dead now. Animals can only take so much."

I hope God was watching that day -- and that He also saw the cows who lay dead from slipping on the ice that formed owing to a heating system failure at the Fair Oaks dairy farm. There is no "Fair" in that picture... but maybe a higher power is needed to make it fair.

You know, I write quite a bit about the science; public health, the environment, the air, the water, the soil... may God forgive me for not writing enough about the animals that can't speak for themselves, and rely on eyewitnesses to tell their story.

Eyewitnesses like the person above who, as I promised, shall remain anonymous on this blog.

Most eyewitnesses won't tell their story. They're afraid for their jobs. They're afraid for their families. They're afraid about being sued for breaking their silence and violating non-disclosure agreements. Some, I've been told, are even afraid of being kicked out of the country...

Perhaps the best way to give the animals on factory farms like those witnessed above owned by McCloskey and the den Dulk brothers, is to put their employees on the stand, and ask them the oh-so-important questions under oath -- ask them to "...tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."

I'm guessing there are more than a few of them who have trouble sleeping at night. As I commend this one eyewitness for coming forward, my heart aches for all of those employees who are afraid to do so.

If you live in Jasper County, Indiana ...stand up and help make a difference.

Join us December 11, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rensselaer High School where the next den Dulk dairy plans are unfolding -- and where they intend to trash yet another area of Jasper County. The fate of 13,000 calves are potentially at stake here, too.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A vicious cycle?

Ever heard the song:

"...the knee-bone connected to the thigh-bone, the thigh-bone connected to the..."

Okay, I won't sing the whole song here.

But think about this:

You take tons (and I do mean TONS) of manure -- spread it on acres of cornfields -- you kill the weeds with glysophate -- you harvest the corn to bring to the ethanol plants -- you take the by-product distilled grains and feed it to the factory farm animals -- then take the factory farm manure (and I do mean TONS) -- spread it on acres of cornfields...

Okay, I won't "sing the whole song" here. But keep this in mind:

- The manure from CAFOs is often LOADED with bacteria.

- The glysophate (round-up) kills earthworms.

- The earthworms eat E. coli and other bacteria.

- The ethanol distilled grain by-products increase the phosperous and sulfer in manure when fed to animals.

Ummmmmm.... am I the only person seeing a problem with this picture? Some experts think we already have a severe E. coli contamination problem in our freshwater streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and ditches.

On a different note, here's another pesky little problem that has reared it's ugly head in Indiana.

Prior to 2001, this visitor wasn't found in Indiana waters. Guess what? It's here now ...I'm talking about a strain of the toxic blue-green algae (slightly different from the one I mentioned before in this blog). Read the full report to find out more.

Here's just a small excerpt:

Spring 2005 report, the Clean Lakes Program (Office of Water Quality, IDEM):
"Among the usual visitors to Indiana lakes during the summer of 2001 was a new and unwanted one – a blue-green alga called Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii (see Figure 1). This tropical species, which had never before been identified in Indiana, was first identified by Dr. Ann St. Amand from samples collected on August 15, 2001 from Ball Lake, a 75-acre natural lake in Steuben County."

In the same report they warn:
"State officials and citizens alike must keep a watchful eye on their lakes, especially in shallow, nutrient-enriched lakes in late summer."
In a separate unrelated scientific study it was reported, "The widespread proliferation of C. raciborskii in some drinking and recreational water supplies has caused international public health concerns. This concern is due to the potential for some strains to produce the alkaloid hepatotoxin cylindrospermopsin. Cyanobacterial toxins have been implicated in a range of animal and human health issues."

For more details on this pesky -- potentially highly toxic -- problem, check out:

Images of Cylindrospermopsis and Pseudanabaena from Several Reservoirs in Indiana, U.S.A.

And also check out:

Distribution and Abundance of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii in Indiana Lakes and Reservoirs

(Note that lakes included within the above study do not represent all public lakes in Indiana.)

"There have been multiple reports of cyanobacterial toxins affecting farm animals such as cattle (Saker et al. 1999a, Hawkins et al. 1997) and even humans. One of the worst cases of cyanobacterial poisoning occurred in Brazil in 1996, when a dialysis clinic treated its patients with water infected with microcystins and caused the death of 76 people (Carmichael et al. 2001). Most recently, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae and its toxin anatoxin-a were implicated in the death of a Wisconsin teenager in the summer of 2003 (Behm 2003)."

More info from the same report:

"C. raciborskii is perhaps best known for its role in the Palm Island Mystery Disease (Hawkins et al. 1985). In November 1979, 149 people (mostly children) became ill with symptoms of hepato-enteritis, vomiting, constipation (Griffiths and Saker 2003; McGregor and Fabbro 2000 [Falconer 1996]) kidney malfunction, and diarrhea (Hawkins et al. 1997).

Originally thought to be attributed to the consumption of unripe mangoes, medical officers noticed that the outbreak occurred three days after the major water supply was treated with copper sulfate to control an algal bloom.

An epidemiological study of the incident later confirmed the linkage between the outbreak and the water supply (Bourke et al. 1983). The copper sulfate had caused C. raciborskii cells to die and lyse, causing the release of toxins in to the water."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What is Acetaldehyde?

As promised in my post yesterday, here is a bit more info on Acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is probably best known as the chemical that causes "hangovers". One of the major toxins produced from Candida albicans is acetaldehyde, which is transformed by the liver to ethanol (alcohol), creating the feeling of intoxication and brain fog. It's been said there have been cases where Candida patients have been pulled over and tested positive with elevated blood alcohol levels above normal, even though they had not even touched a drop of alcohol. But there's a more hazardous connection to cancer here...

Acetaldehyde is more toxic than ethanol and is responsible for many hangover symptoms. It is also an air pollutant, emitted by cars and certain production facilities. And it is also contained in tobacco smoke, contributing to the smoke's addictive properties.

Acetaldehyde is a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP), and was identified as a toxic air contaminant (TAC) by the California Environmental Protection Agency on April 8, 1993, when the Air Resources Board (ARB) identified all 189 HAPs as TACs. Quote:
The [California] ARB staff has determined that acetaldehyde is the product of incomplete combustion, is emitted from a variety of sources, and can be detected in the ambient air throughout California. It can be formed in polluted ambient atmospheres from a variety of precursors. It is highly mobile in the environment, and is not naturally removed or detoxified at a rate that would significantly reduce public exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified acetaldehyde as a possible human carcinogen 2B), based on sufficient evidence in animals and inadequate evidence in humans. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has decided that acetaldehyde is a "probable human carcinogen" (B2).

The OEHHA staff has concluded that at ambient concentrations acetaldehyde may cause or contribute to an increase in mortality or serious illness and may therefore pose a potential hazard to human health.

What are the sources of Acetaldehyde emissions (in addition to ethanol fueled vehicles)?

According the California EPA report referenced above, "The largest sources statewide of directly emitted acetaldehyde are from combustion of fuels from mobile sources, agricultural burning, and wildfires. Direct sources are estimated to contribute approximately 44 percent of the acetaldehyde in the atmosphere."

In 1999, IDEM in it's statewide inventory of toxic air contaminants, reported an Indiana Acetaldehyde emissions inventory of 233,592.33 lb/yr, as follows:

Point Sources: 189,570.00
Area Sources: 44,022.33

About Point Source Emissions: As part of the annual emissions reporting package Indiana requests information on hazardous air pollutant emissions from point sources required to report to STEPS. Indiana has included this voluntarily reported information, and information from the TRI database, for many point sources. The voluntarily reported emissions and TRI data are primarily source totals, however some sources did report process level HAPs in STEPS.

Now, I don't know but I've been told, acetaldehyde has a sickly sweet "fruity" smell... however, the California EPA report referenced above states:
Acetaldehyde is a colorless, flammable liquid, volatile at ambient temperature and pressure, with an irritating odor.

By the way, did you know...? When MTBE is removed and ethanol is added to gasoline, the vapor pressure (Rvp) of the gasoline blend increases and thus emissions of volatile organic compound (VOC) increase. See this very detailed government document which discusses the difficulties associated with replacing MBTE (now banned in several states) with ethanol.

It also reveals a few other problems with gas prices and ethanol that many of us may not be aware of.

More on health issues relating specifically to Dairy CAFOs later this week.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday Hangover

The term "Black Friday" has been around for some time -- and often refers to the day after Thanksgiving -- a day of major Retail shopping sales. It's said to be the biggest sales day of the year for retailers, although some stats indicate it's actually the 5th biggest of the year.

It was called "Black Friday" because supposedly, it's the turnaround for the retail industry when their red ink (from losses) starts turning into black ink (for profits).

Others say "Black Friday" actually refers to a darker time in history -- the day of the largest stock market crash ever -- the dawn of the depression.

It was said to have been preceeded by a "bubble" in the economy -- a bubble that eventually burst. Learn more about "crashes and bubbles" here.

Briefly, a quote from the site referenced above describes it well:

"Like the soap bubbles a child likes to blow, investing bubbles often appear as though they will rise forever, but since they are not formed from anything substantial, they eventually pop. And when they do, the money that was invested into them dissipates into the wind."

I've received some very interesting feedback from my post: "The Ethanol CAFO Connection?"

Some who stand to profit were, needless to say, very upset. There is major hype and spin being directed towards the ethanol picture (which wears the eco-friendly disguise label: "bio-fuels"). And like any issue, there are people standing on both sides. Marty's "Big Eastern" blog brought up a few good links on both sides of the subject in his 18Sept2006 post titled "Bubble Trouble" are a few more:

- Crunching the Numbers on Alternative Fuels by Popular Mechanics

- Drunk on Ethanol by Business Week

- Ethanol Investing: Counterpoint by FSU

You'll notice the above links are not too pro-ethanol. You can get plenty of that from the major players and stakeholders in the ethanol game.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for progressive steps that will clean up the environment and reduce or eliminate the many toxins and related health risks assaulting us and our planet each and every day.

But the "pro ethanol spin" hasn't convinced me it's a viable solution. I still believe it was a necessary step in Gov. Daniels big plan. Think about it. His big goal when taking office was to double pork production in the State of Indiana. Since everyone who is anyone in the ag industry knows one of the biggest drawbacks for CAFOs are the damages they do to our environment, it's not too big of a stretch to think he piggybacked the big pork push with the environmental spin of bio-energy.

Ethanol has become the "darling" of some mass media outlets, as this Bio-Town video on ABC Nightline clearly indicates. Turning all that gawhd-awful smelling hog manure into ethanol to power up our nation sounds like a perfect solution on the surface, right?

Stepping ahead on his plans to paint the "green" picture, Daniels gave away 200 FREE 2-year leases on brand new hybrid vehicles to residents in his BioTown -- namely Reynolds, Indiana. They don't have an ethanol gas station -- yet -- so those 200 vehicles are now guzzling up the gas, running at approx 27% less fuel efficient than other vehicles.... but hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

In politics, it's the "thought" that really counts when it comes to image. While Daniels makes his strongest push ever to "green" up his agenda for the State of Indiana spear-heading his PR campaign with the ethanol push, few people even know about his hidden plans "to increase timber harvest by 400 to 500% on State Forests"

...and it's not just him pushing the ethanol agenda. The subsidies in place (that expire in 2007) come right from the top -- where ethanol was madated as the fuel additive of choice, replacing another additive that was proven to pollute groundwater.

A little known fact about ethanol emissions can be found in Consumer Reports article, "The Ethanol Myth."

QUOTE: When we took our Tahoe to a state-certified emissions-test facility in Connecticut and had a standard emissions test performed, we found a significant decrease in smog-forming oxides of nitrogen when using E85. Ethanol, however, emits acetaldehyde, a probable carcinogen and something that standard emissions-testing equipment is not designed to measure. But that might be a relatively minor evil. "Acetaldehyde is bad," says James Cannon, president of Energy Futures, an alternative-transportation publication, "but not nearly as bad as some of the emissions from gasoline."

What is Acetaldehyde?

I'll bring you more on that (and other important health related info) next week. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Location, Location, Location - CAFO Considerations

You hear it talked about by Real Estate reps all the time -- location, location, location -- and there are many factors that will influence their assessment of a property prior to listing.

But, what are the Top 5 location decision factors for Dairy CAFO owners when selecting a potential site?

According to one study published in 2003 in the Journal of Dairy Science titled "Identification and Characterization of Location Decision Factors for Relocating Dairy Farms" here they are in order of overall importance to Dairy farm owners.

The Top 5 overall most important Location Decision Factors for Dairy Farms were:

1) availability of fresh water supplies
2) availability of land for waste management
3) average mailbox price of milk
4) quality of fresh water supply, and
5) complexity of laws governing waste management

The study also noted: "Factors pertaining to dairy production activities, such as cost of feeds and milk handling, were prevalent among those LDF in the upper quartile of importance."

What happened to:

1) public health/safety considerations in regards to proximity to area residents?

2) environmental safety considerations? (potential runoff dangers, potential water contamination issues, potential insect problems, etc.)

3) potential for spread of disease &/or infection of cows and/or wildlife?

4) sufficient infrastructures in place for traffic to and from location?

5) potential for future "nuisance lawsuits" in future?

Maybe the 2nd list of 5 items isn't very important to the Dairy CAFO owners in this Jasper County case, but perhaps they should take a closer look at the location they've chosen before the next BZA meeting.

Regarding item 1; it's no secret they're planning this facility adjacent to a large residential subdivision... and I'm pretty certain they're also aware it's a fairly populated area ...for a rural location.

Studies like the following should come as no surprise to them:

- "With increased productivity has come the need for fewer cows to produce milk on a per capita basis and increases in net income per cow. However, compared with energetic efficiency, the efficiency of using feed protein to make milk protein has not increased as dramatically, partly because cows are often fed protein in excess. This nitrogen waste is an environmental concern; N (Nitrogen) losses in manure contribute to water pollution and ammonia emissions from dairy farms."

- "Soil P (Phosphorus) levels in the 30-cm layer were above state threshold standards, most likely from overapplication of manure."

- "The economic risk of underfeeding protein is greater than the risk of overfeeding protein, so protein efficiency has not been maximized in the past, nor is it likely to be maximized in the near future. Most cows also are fed excess P, a notable contaminant of surface waters, but several recent studies have shown that feeding P above NRC recommendations has no utility for milk production or fertility."

There's tons more clinical studies on the subject of manure problems relating to Dairy CAFOs... I just listed a handful of the more recent studies above. You have to travel outside of the USA to look at some of the more dangerous health risks associated to Dairy farms. For example:

- "Bacteria were isolated from dairy cows, dairy farm environments, and dairy workers in 2 geographically different areas of eastern and northern Taiwan. Isolates were evaluated for antimicrobial susceptibility and the phylogenetics of isolated Escherichia coli O157:H7 were characterized. A total of 1,346 bacteria were identified, including 226 E. coli, 30 Pseudomonas spp. (7 Pseudomonas aeruginosa), 259 other gram-negative bacteria, 271 Enterococcus spp., 314 Staphylococcus spp., 195 Streptococcus spp., and 51 other gram-positive bacteria."

Regarding item 2; since they're calling it "Wolf Creek Calf Company LLC" I'm assuming they are aware of the water bodies in the area. And from what I've heard they're aware that there just might not be enough land for the distribution of their manure. (Just a rumor at this point -- I heard they're bidding on more land in the immediate vicinity.)

You can read through some of the studies above, or easily find hundreds more, on the subject of Dairy farm manure and waste water problems.

To get the "Big" picture regarding waters in Northwestern Indiana, check this out.

Now, maybe the CAFO owners are thinking they can just tap into the environmental grant budgets to solve any problems that come up?

Think again. According to "Clean Water Indiana" administered by the DNR, a multi'faceted strategy, including focusing "...state resources at the local level to reduce water pollution from agricultural and urban stormwater runoff"


"There is simply not enough conservation cost-share and grant money available from current state or federal programs to fulfill the need for assistance to Indiana's urban and rural landowners. In 1999, public demand exceeded available federal and state conservation cost-share and grant dollars by more than $11 million."

Sidenote Regarding Water Supply in this area: "Between 1981 and 1989, IDNR staff investigated more than 225 complaints of water-supply problems in northern Jasper and Newton Counties. Most problems reported for shallow water wells were the result of seasonal water-table fluctuations in the sand aquifer, and generally were corrected by upgrading the wells. Losses of water supply in wells completed in the carbonate aquifer, however, frequently resulted from water-level declines induced by high-capacity irrigation pumpage from the bedrock."

In response to recurring ground-water conflicts in Jasper and Newton Counties, the IDNR Division of Water has suggested several water-management alternatives in an attempt to alleviate the potential for future conflicts, particularly during the irrigation season and during periods of drought. The suggested alternatives call for

1) the additional development of the surficial sand aquifer as an alternative or complementary ground-water source for irrigation;

2) an examination of the need for localized restrictions on the drilling of new high-capacity bedrock wells;

3) the implementation of water-conservation practices in some irrigation areas;

4) the proper installation of small-capacity wells; and

5) continued coordination with the State of Illinois to manage irrigation development in the bi-state area where the carbonate aquifer is heavily pumped.

(Link to source.)

As for item 3; this new proposed Dairy/Calving CAFO is nestled nicely in a forested area frequently visited by white-tail deer, so I'm assuming the owners already are aware of this study by divisions of the USDA and the Center for Disease Control completed in Wisconsin regarding black-legged ticks. In it the authors state, "The risk of encountering adult blacklegged ticks on dairy farms in Barron County, Wisconsin is therefore greatest in woodlands habitat."

Oh, but maybe they aren't aware of the coyote problem in this neck of the woods? By now, they already know this is a major flyway for Sandhill Cranes. I'm assuming the CAFO operators are aware of what E. coli does to migratory birds?

As for item 4; I guess they're not worried about this, since they managed to get quite a long stretch of newly blacktopped road (more like a highway) put in for other facilities they own -- hundreds of thousands of $ -- compliments of the taxpayers. They'll just "lobby" the politicians for more of the same.

Regarding item 5; well jeepers creepers, when that many people turn out (I heard someone counted up to 500 people) in protest of a CAFO operation before it has even begun, don't you think that maybe -- just maybe -- area residents are going to be keeping a VERY CLOSE eye on everything they do? I'm no lawyer, but doesn't it spell a higher potential for "nuisance lawsuit" trouble down the road?

My heart goes out to residents of Roselawn. I've heard of their plight -- drove through that area yesterday -- being upwind, as they are, from Fair Oaks Farms. The comments I've received thus far are heartbreaking. I'm just guessing (and this is just a humble guess on my part) that if a group of environmental attorney's listened closely, I'm thinking they could probably find a strong class action suit within that community.