2007.08.15 Neil Hinkley

Written by David Green.

Tourism is a major economic asset for the state of Michigan. Our state offers 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams and 11,000 inland lakes—not to mention parks and woods for hiking, camping and sightseeing. However, if steps are not taken to regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) one of Michigan’s greatest economic assets—our natural landscape—will be destroyed, to say nothing of the health and welfare of Michigan residents.

In his August 5 letter to the editor (Daily Telegram), Sen. Cameron Brown spoke of the need to support CAFOs, noting that they contribute to Michigan’s second largest industry—agriculture. However, he failed to mention that CAFOs are also the state’s leading polluter. If these factory farms were regulated like any other manufacturing industry, the problem of water, air, and ground pollution would be solved.

Instead Sen. Brown continues to write and push for laws (Senate Bills 447 - 448 and 501 - 504) that seem “green” but that really give CAFOs a license to pollute. In a speech to the Senate regarding these new, “strict” farm laws, Brown rebutted a fellow senator’s comment comparing North Carolina (where new open pit lagoons are banned) to Michigan. Brown asserted that North Carolina has been slow to regulate farm pollution compared to Michigan. The truth is a state ban is all the regulation North Carolina has needed. Not surprisingly a recent television news report stated that North Carolina has the cleanest beaches in the country. Compare that to tens of thousands of fish killed in Kent County’s Tyler Creek, as a result of a legal CAFO’s accidental discharge. Or compare it locally to the mysterious disappearance of fish and frogs from our streams or songbirds from our own backyards.

The field tiles coming from CAFOs run to our creeks, rivers and lakes. Concentrated animal waste, antibiotics, E-coli bacteria and who know what else are injected or spread on top of the ground for disposal. This concentrated waste does not quickly disappear like CAFO operators and certain senators would like you to believe. Michigan currently hosts more than 200 CAFOs and that number is growing, due to bans elsewhere in the country and world (e.g. the Netherlands). Hopefully the bogus laws mentioned above do not pass the State House. Watch closely to see how our representatives vote.

In future elections please vote for the well-being of our state and its residents—not, necessarily, along party lines.

– Neil Hinkley
Seneca Twp.
  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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