Monday, January 23, 2006

Yes you can help stop CAFOs in Indiana

I've received several emails as well as comments regarding my post yesterday "Taxation Without Representation" and have some answers to one blogger's questions:

At 9:14 AM, A friend said...
I wish you much luck in your fight against these horrible cafo's. Is there something that other people can do to support your cause? Is there an organization that is set up to help people in your situation? Have you visited the Grace family farm website dedicated to fight CAFO's?
I'll answer the last question first ... yes, we've been in almost constant contact with GRACE since this particular hog factory farm showed up in our area. They've been most helpful providing us with tons of information, recommendations and morale support.

In answer to the first question - yes, you can help stop the overwhelming flood of CAFOs that have been springing up since 2001 all over the State of Indiana... but to be fair, you need to be aware of the major strategic initiative set out by Governor Mitch Daniels and spearheaded by Lieutenant Governor Becky Stillman.

For full details, you can view the streaming media version of their first confernce on the subject "Possibilities Unbound: Plan for 2025 - Indiana Strategic Plan for Agriculture" (if you have version 10 of Windows Media) available through this link.

- Knowing their plans include DOUBLING pork production in the State of Indiana, and

- Knowing they plan to enact legislation (and have already begun doing so) that would make starting CAFOs in Indiana far easier, and

- Knowing that they have already installed officials in critical key job positions to make their strategic plan come together (such as the head of IDEM itself)

...then you become aware that the issue is much bigger than one CAFO next to a large and very important wildlife reserve in the heart of Northwestern Indiana - namely the Belstra-Harper Sow Unit ID #6383 here in Jasper County.

The first and most important step is contacting all local, state, and federal representatives -- here's a link to an article I wrote with contact links that may help -- protesting these facilities and requesting FULL RESEARCH AND REVIEW be properly conducted to ensure strong legislation is in place to protect -- citizens, our environment, animals (including the farm animals themselves) and our health and welfare -- prior to issuing any further CAFO permits in the State of Indiana.

In essence, a full and complete moratorium on CAFOs is desparately needed here in Indiana, before we become the next North Carolina.

To be fair, I doubt we will be able to stop IDEM from issuing further permits, but it's important elected officials know the numbers of tax-paying citizens against CAFOs are growing HUGE in Indiana, and that we don't want our State turned into one giant sewer from the over-abundance of manure (and related contaminants) these facilities produce.

If you're fighting a CAFO in your area, it's also important to be organized and I highly recommend the GRACE website as a good starting point. Also, you need the finances to be able to enter the legal battle...

For example, we opened a "Hog Farm Protest" bank account at our small National City branch in Wheatfield where residents have been chipping in to help pay for our legal fees on this case. Understand, that these are not tax-deductable charity donations, but that it's one way in which your entire neighborhood (and beyond) can help in the fight financially.

Also, in our case, there is a major wildlife concern/issue, so we've also been in touch with several wildlife conservation organizations both at the local area level and beyond. Some organizations, such as Audubon, have been wonderfully supportive and have helped us gather the scientific reports and additional research materials we need to fight for the innocent wildlife victims in this case.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly?) some of the wildlife organizations have been extremely helpful behind the scenes but have preferred to be kept annonymous owing to major troubles and conflicts they've faced in the past fighting CAFOs just like this situation. It's been a real eye-opener for me uncovering what's happened in previous years regarding the CAFO issue. Who knows -- maybe someday I'll right a book on this journey into CAFO awareness. Some of my discoveries have been downright shocking, in my humble opinion.

PS: to really get an eyefull of how serious the CAFO situation in Indiana has become, check out the Kemplog article "CAFO's: Where Do We Stand"

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