Sep 17, 2014

Citizen Farnham Lied to by Wisconsin State Senate Office of Scott Fitzgerald on Safe Water

Home of Greg Farnham in Juneau, Wisconsin
As many Wisconsin politicians remain nothing less than hostile to protecting the environment, an incredible and short-sighted political position, perhaps there is nothing more hostile to citizens working to protect the environment than being told by a politician that they'll at least follow up and get back to the citizen, only to ignore the man.

Greg Farnham is waiting to hear from State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Clyman), and waiting. Perhaps Mr. Farnham should give Fitzgerald's campaign committee some money, this seems to work with Fitzgerald.

Greg Farnham 
Waterdown Farms
N5036 St. Helena Road                         
Juneau, WI  53039-9636

Dear Senator Fitzgerald
April 15th I met with Dan Romportl and Tad Ottman (legislative aides) to discuss concerns regarding human health risks from using aerial spray irrigation to dispose of manure at intensive livestock operations, a practice that is promoted by dairy and livestock producers and the departments of natural resources and agriculture, trade and consumer protection.  I provided them with technical documents regarding public health risks of manure irrigation as well as copies of ordinances of Wisconsin counties and townships that have taken their own actions to restrict manure spray irrigation in an effort to protect the health of their residents. 
I asked Messrs. Romportl and Ottman to review the information with you and convey that I find state action in this matter to be irresponsible.  I shared with them my belief that the health and well being of our rural residents in CAFO counties have been marginalized by agency leadership at DNR and DATCP.  I also find that DHS Secretary Rhoades has demonstrated she is uninterested in the serious public health consequences from manure irrigation and the need to find safer methods to dispose of rapidly growing quantities of livestock manure.  
It was my understanding that Messrs. Romportl and Ottman were going to review the information and discuss it with you, and then let me know their recommendations; however, I've not heard from them.   
As part of constructive dialogue I'd like to share additional technical information with you that I believe casts an even greater sense of urgency on the need for our state agencies to recognize the serious human health risks inherent in aerial spray irrigation of animal manure and to act responsibly. 
Nancy Khardori, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Infectious Diseases, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, is author of "Overview of Potential Agents of Biological Terrorism" available on the university website (  Dr. Khardori reports that spray aerosols are the most effective means of dispersion of biological weapon systems, with secondary or tertiary transmission of pathogens and toxins person-to-person and via vectors. 
Even more chilling is the fact that a number of bacterial agents of bioterrorism are pathogenic microorganisms found in livestock manure (US Environmental Protection Agency).   These include: 
  • •Bacillus anthracis   Category A bacterial agent of highest priority.  Anthrax can be easily disseminated or transmitted person to person with high mortality.  B. anthracis was weaponized by the US in 1954. 
  • Category B bioterrorism agents of second highest priority include Salmonella species, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Cryptosporidium parvum and Cloxiella burnetti. 
  • Brucella species  Category B bioterrorism bacterial agent causing brucellosis.  Easily transmitted, stable to environmental conditions and long persistence in wet ground.  Infection by skin contact, ingestion and inhalation of contaminated aerosols.  Highly infectious with only 10 - 100 viable cells required. 
  •  Clostridium tetani  Category B tetanus biological toxin 
  • Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B  Category B biological toxin from Staphylococcus aureus.  This toxin was one of seven agents in the US biological warfare arsenal in the 1960s. 
This is what leadership of DNR, DATCP (Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection) and DHS (Wisconsin Department of Health Services) plan for our rural communities -- to expand the use by livestock operations of aerosolizing liquid manure and dispersion of pathogens and toxins identified as agents of biological warfare and bioterrorism to ourselves, our neighbors and our animals! 
DNR Deputy Secretary (Matt) Moroney spoke at a gathering of agricultural producers in February 2013.  He is on record as claiming collaboration between DNR and producers is to facilitate dairy industry expansion.  His message at the seminar included statements that DNR is no longer a strong advocate on environmental issues and further that DNR is supportive of manure spray irrigation.  These words are from leadership of the agency providing over $300,000 of public money to fund supposedly objective research on manure irrigation by agricultural scientists. 
Further, I understand that DNR has arranged for the quantitative microbial risk assessment for human health risk determination to be conducted by a forage research scientist with the US Department of Agriculture, not by medical officials and experts in public health. 
Given the overlapping interests in this arrangement, there appears to be significant prejudice in the research plan and health risk assessment and I see little reason to trust the outcome of the DNR project. 
I believe there is sufficient concern regarding human health risks to request a moratorium on the manure irrigation project until a more complete scope of work is defined and further that an agency with public health responsibilities and accountability is designated to conduct human health risk assessment. 
I'm not anti-farming nor a tree hugger.   I believe you know that my wife and I own 400 acres of farmland on Lake Sinissippi.  My grandfather was a dairy field man for Nestle creamery in Waterford, Wisconsin, and I have fond memories of riding with him to his farm patrons in the early 1950s.  My father was a dairy chemist in the industry.  My business career was in international marketing in the dairy and food industries, and in the 1980s I served as a US representative to the International Dairy Federation in Brussels, Belgium. 
I don't believe the livestock CAFO concept is sustainable.  The costs to our rural communities and residents, our environment, human health, the workers on the farms and the animals themselves are too high -- witness the tragic drowning of 2,000 pigs in a manure pit at a swine CAFO in Guelph, Ontario a month ago. 
And I envision serious, long-term problems for our state with the current administration policy of unfettered expansion of dairy and livestock CAFOs.  Aggressive promotion of manure spray irrigation by DNR and DATCP is an ill-advised consequence of that policy.  We're buried in manure, farm fields are saturated with waste and nutrients, and additional land for spreading is unavailable in many areas. 
I believe we can evolve a more balanced approach to farming in this state that places a limit on expansion of CAFOs and instead encourages and supports economic development of farms with sustainable land-use practices and opportunities for our rural young people.  I hope you are willing to explore more sensible options for our farm families and rural residents.  In the meantime I believe there is a clear need for you to demand responsible action by our state agencies to protect public health from the hazards of manure spray irrigation. 


Greg Farnham 

No comments:

Post a Comment