Winter 2014 Newsletter - just posted.
Bulletin: International Joint Commission - Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority Final Report released, Feb 27. This final report strengthens the Draft Report recommendation to ban application of manure – and commercial fertilizer – to frozen or snow-covered ground. See p. 9, Recommendation #10:
ECCSCM supports the prohibition of winter application of manure – in Michigan's CAFO permit (undergoing revision), in the Michigan Agricultural Environment Assurance Program (MAEAP) Standards, and in Michigan's Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs). In late 2013, 2 important reports from the International Joint Commission and the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force, multi-national, multi-agency groups studying Lake Erie's excess nutrient/toxic algae crisis, both recommended that winter application of manure be banned in Lake Erie watersheds. One of the highest risk agricultural practices, manure on snow-covered or frozen ground, an impervious surface, has nowhere to go when it rains or melts except off the field and into streams. See the IJC Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority Draft Report and the Ohio Phosphorus Task Force Final Report.
CAFO waste application on snow-covered, frozen fields, all through February.
Nov 26 - Fall Newsletter just posted. Highlights: Medina Drain photos THEN (scum, creepy colors) and NOW(clear); Wolf Creek, Adrian-area CAFOs & Terrehaven violations.
BULLETIN: 7 Violations - Terrehaven CAFO, Wolf Cr Hwy near Adrian, was cited for multiple violations, including contaminated runoff from the feed storage and barns flowing into an undocumented “temporary holding pond,”contaminated runoff from the production area flowing “east toward an open field” and “west toward an open field, and eventually to a small pond,” clean stormwater from several buildings contaminated with production area waste. Woody vegetation was growing on the berms of the wastewater lagoon, which "can compromise the integrity of the lagoon liner by root penetration.”
Nov 23 - See results and total data from ECCSCM's 3 Water Monitoring Projects for 2013: Wolf Creek Watershed (River Raisin Watershed), and Medina Drain, Lime Lake Inlet (Bean/Tiffin Watershed). Medina Drain, in particular, shows recovery since the Vreba-Hoff shutdown. But what will happen when Milk Source LLC moves in with 3,000+ cows in Spring 2014?
Oct 4, 2013 - Health risks to neighbors from Hartland Farms heavy manure application and emissions – see report sent to MDARD and DEQ by local Registered Nurse. Hydrogen Sulfide levels reached 1.2ppm (1,200ppb) in a neighbor's home. The neighbor at this residence is ill, receiving radiation treatments, and on Oct 5 was taken by ambulance to hospital with "extreme stress in breathing." New Mexico, New York, and Kentucky have 1-hour air standards for Hydrogen Sulfide of 10 ppb. This is 1,200 ppb inside a residence! The World Health Organization recommends exposure no higher than 10.6ppb over a 24-hr period. Where can neighbors go to breathe safe air? If not in their own homes?
Aug 31 — SOLD: ex-Vreba-Hoff CAFOs sold to MilkSource of Wisconsin. See more details.
Aug 9 - serious Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) emissions from Hartland Farms manure application, Beecher Rd & Henning Hwy. The new Drager 2000 H2S meter registered 1.0 ppm (= 1,000 ppb) this afternoon, far above the 1-hour air standard in 13 states. Michigan has no air standard for H2S. New Mexico, New York, and Kentucky have 1-hour air standards of 10 ppb. This is 1,000 ppb! 100 times worse.
ADVISORY: Aug 1 – Lime Lake area residents, Medina Twp residents near Dillon Hwy: with the imminent sale, apparently within weeks, of ex-Vreba-Hoff CAFOs to MilkSource, a Wisconsin CAFO, consider doing baseline well water tests of your drinking water. If massive applications of liquid manure resume, baseline tests are important, should there be manure discharges or spills. ECCSCM is testing Lime Lake Inlet this summer for baseline data. (See July entry below).
Free water sample bottles with mailer for the Dept. of Environmental Quality Lab are available from your County Health Department or from ECCSCM. Click here for DEQ lab tests and fees. An E. coli test and nitrate test (included in Automated Partial Chemistry test) are especially important.
FIND THE CAFOS IN YOUR AREA – Click on this Food & Water Watch map
July - ECCSCM water monitoring team is testing Lime Lake Inlet, a stream already impaired and now threatened again, and more seriously, if the ex-Vreba-Hoff facility on US-127 is sold and manure application resumes in this watershed. We're testing 4 times this summer for E. coli, Nitrates and Nitrites, Phosphate, Ammonia.
2013 Spring Newsletter – Highlights: Taxpayer subsidies to CAFOs and livestock facilities in our area; FBI investigates Vreba-Hoff's Willy van Bakel, and more...
May 11 - Hoffland Farms is spraying fields adjacent to Lake Hudson, on Lake Hudson State Recreation Area public land. Who said yes, it makes sense to spray liquid manure across from a public beach? Who said yes, it makes sense to let manure emissions drive campers from a state campground? Who said, let hikers and anglers hold their noses?
April 27 – A water-quality team from Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water came to Hudson to train ECCSCM on the use of new water monitoring equipment, including hand-held digital meters for testing phosphate, nitrate, ammonia, etc. and in-stream equipment that samples for numerous pharmaceuticals and antibiotics.
April – it's raining cow pies (from Terrehaven CAFO manure hauler) on cars and Wolf Creek Hwy, Adrian. For drivers following, it's off to the car wash, again. These spatter and smear, but at least they're not the liquid slurry that takes 2 runs through the car wash.
early March, 2013 – Ground is still snow-covered, but thaw has begun. CAFOs are back in the fields spraying manure. These conditions pose extreme risk for runoff and pollution of streams in many locations.
Check your calendar – March 21, 2013 at 7 p.m. – Panel Discussion: Less = More: Restoring the Balance to Our Food System
ECCSCM joins new Michigan initiative: Less = More
2013 Winter Newsletter now online – print copies will be mailed next week
Claims of CAFO Operators – True or False?
See ECCSCM Monitoring Projects for 2013 – Air, water, DNA testing...
Update: November: another possible buyer for the ex-Vreba-Hoff facilities has appeared on the scene, with a purchase option in place. There is no indication on the part of the buyer of any willingness to monitor the impaired streams that originate on the CAFO properties. Consequently, ECCSCM is gearing up for water testing at several sites before animals fill the barns. We'll do baseline testing and follow up as soon as manure application begins. These facilities have the problem of being the ONLY source of contaminants in two of the impaired streams, at several locations. There's no upstream. Medina Drain and Durfee Creek, 2 of the impaired streams, originate on the Dillon Rd property. In addition, Lime Creek (the stretch called Lime Lake Inlet), is also impaired and drains major fields at the US-127 facility and flows directly into Lime Lake. More details on the monitoring projects will be posted soon.
Nov 12 - foul water discharging from Bakerlads manure field after rains last night. This water flows to the South Branch of the River Raisin – and on to Lake Erie. Contaminants and excess nutrients in agricultural runoff have been the major contributor to Lake Erie's toxic algae blooms and dead zone. See Nov 7-8 Stench Alerts for Bakerlads stockpiling details.
July 5 - SMD said in May, there was "no excuse" for draglines in waterbodies. But once again, SMD manure contractors have placed a dragline in the culvert of a waterbody, Covell Drain where it crosses Canandaigua Rd. Hoffland Farms manure spill at the lagoon, at tile riser leading to Rice Lake Drain.
May 12 - SMD cited for 2 discharges of liquid manure to surface waters. See Violations page for details.
May 3 - SMD dragline has been moved from Bean and its tributary on Medina Rd around the corner to the same tributary on Acker Hwy, where it's in the water, a fold in the line. Draglining application is along Munson Hwy. Along the way, the line is not only in the tributary but also on the Acker roadway itself and in the stormwater culvert at the US-127 facility.
May 1 - 7:00pm - SMD dragline breaks! Liquid manure flows down ditch.
May 1, 2012 - SMD is draglining again, the dragline placed across Bean Creek. The manure-inflated dragline is lying in the water of a tributary of Bean Creek, see photo below, and somewhere out of sight, also crossing Bean Creek itself, a natural stream, with the Michigan Nature Association Powell Sanctuary just 1 1/2 mi. downstream. In 12 years here, we have NEVER seen draglines in streams. DEQ says this is not their "jurisdiction." Think of the risks – to fish, freshwater mussels (several threatened species), drinking water sources downstream. How can this be legal? Could you stretch a pipe with septic waste across a stream, even temporarily? Given the extreme risk, should this be an "acceptable" agricultural practice?
weekend of April 28-29, Southern Michigan Dairies is draglining along Ridgeville Rd, with black water flowing through County Drains to Toad Creek. DEQ has not responded. See details, photos of manure-filled draglines along US-127, across several fields.
SPRING 2012 NEWSLETTER
January - Southern Michigan Dairies is fined $24,500 for violating its deadline for closure of the failed concrete manure lagoon at SMD 1. The lagoon was properly closed on Dec 27, 2011, 56 days past the deadline. The fine must be paid within 30 days of receipt of the DEQ Letter sent to Mark Fischels, Pres., Southern Michigan Dairies, Rabo Agrifinance, Ames, Iowa, on Jan 5, 2012.
Jan 5 - DEQ announces Public Hearing for Southern Michigan Dairies CAFO permits for Feb 1 in Hudson. See links below to the DEQ draft permits and SMD applications. Also see article with general information and details on the permits in our Winter Newsletter.
Jan 3 - Bakerlads CAFO field sprayed black with liquid manure, immediately upslope from the South Branch of the River Raisin (banks visible lower right). Thaw is predicted for later this week.
See New Year's Eve video of bulldozed houses, closed SMD barns.
December 14 - Press Release
Groups Call on State of Michigan to Shake Up Agriculture Practices
East Lansing, MI – A diverse group of faith, farming, conservation, community and food organizations today called on the Michigan Agriculture Commission to reassess and revamp some of the state’s most controversial livestock farming practices. The seventeen organizations called for a complete reassessment of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices, or GAAMPs regarding use of liquid livestock wastes and concentration of facilities. The organizations specifically ask the state officials to give “due consideration” of impacts of these practices on agricultural communities and the environment, as well as on individual operations.
- Adrian Dominican Sisters, Program for Justice Peace, and Corporate Responsibility
Nov 28 - Lagoons at SMD 2 along US-127 appear very full.
Aug 15 - SMD manure discharge into Medina Drain, tributary of Bean Creek. Details from DEQ email 8/15/11: "Friday afternoon there was a break at the pivot of the irrigation sprayer in the corn field west of Ingall Hwy. An unknown amount of liquid reached the beginning of the N Medina Drain. They immediately dammed up the drain at three separate points downstream, including at the field, downstream of Ingall Hwy and at the farthest point where any of the liquid reached downstream of Ingall. They called us late Fri morning and we were down there to observe that afternoon. They contained and pumped liquid throughout Friday and Saturday and either applied the liquid to approved fields or placed it back in lagoons. By Saturday night most of the work was done. Sunday they did some final flushing of the drain using clean water with contracted trucks from Leas Farms. The trucks were triple rinsed and filled with clean water for the flushing. Downstream of the flushing the water was again pumped out and field applied. Once the flushing was complete we approved the removal of the temporary dams and all is complete to our satisfaction at this point."
weekend of Aug 12-14 - Southern Michigan Dairies incident: A neighbor reported to ECCSCM that SMD tankers were hauling and discharging liquid into the North Medina Drain, Ingalll Hwy, beginning on Fri Aug 12, and continuing all weekend. North Medina Drain is a tributary of Bean Creek. ECCSCM photos on Sunday Aug 14 show a tanker dumping water directly into the Drain. A tractor with pump and another semi are in the field near a center-pivot irrigation system near the head of Medina Drain. Did manure discharge to Medina Drain? No report from DEQ yet on that.
early June 2011 - fields are finally drying, lagoons are very full. Millions of gallons of manure will soon be sprayed in our watersheds, all draining to Lake Erie, already contaminated with excess nurients.
March 2, 2011 - DEQ and Michigan Attorney General's Office files an Administrative Consent Order with Southern Michigan Dairies, the subsidiary of Rabo Agrifinance which took over the 3 Vreba-Hoff CAFOs in November, 2010. The ACO requires SMD to pay $100,000 as partial payment of Vreba-Hoff fines owed, requires SMD to empty and close the satellite lagoon on Packard Rd by Sept. 30, 2011, as well as close the failed concrete lagoon at SMD 1 (formerly V-H 1). The ACO also requires notification if any potential buyer is "involved with Wilhemus van Bakel personally or any of his business entities, including but not limited to: Vreba-Hoff Dairy, LLC; Vreba-Hoff Holding, LLC; Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development; the Van Bakel Group, or Nova Lait, LLC. The DEQ reserves the right to leave whole the Judgment Liens...should SMD transfer Dairies I, II, or III ...to a van Bakel or Vreba-Hoff affiliated entity." See the full ACO document.
Superbugs – an important national public health issue, including a recent editorial, "The High Cost of Cheap Meat," in the New York Times, June 2, 2011. Also, read the full EMU study, “Antibiotic Resistance, Gene Transfer, and Water Quality Patterns Observed in Waterways near CAFO Farms and Wastewater Treatment Facilities,” which used data from water tests in our watersheds. EMU researchers found multi-drug resistant bacteria in water near CAFOs here: “Our results indicate that CAFO farms not only impair traditional measures of water quality but may also increase the prevalence of multi-drug-resistant bacteria in natural waters.”
Feb 10, 2011 - Is Rabo/Southern Michigan Dairies selling former Vreba-Hoff equipment, tractors? See the trucks loading up at the facility on US-127 on our ECCSCM's YouTube channel.
Feb 2011 - Manure application on snow and frozen ground continues, at great risk to our headwater streams of Lake Erie. See article in this month's Newsletter about other states that prohibit this practice; and see it happening now, as usual, in Michigan.
Nov 2010 – Bank takes over Vreba-Hoff facilities. According to an article in the Adrian Telegram Nov 18, Rabo Agrifinance "has taken over ownership of the Vreba-Hoff Dairy facilities near Hudson following negotiations to avoid foreclosure on a $55 million loan. Rabo Agrifinance Inc. had ownership of the Vreba-Hoff properties transferred on Nov. 12 to one of its business entities, Southern Michigan Dairies LLC. The bank has been running Vreba-Hoff I and II and the Waldron Dairy since then." By mid-November, V-H 1 and Waldron Dairies were shut down, all cows and operations consolidated at V-H 1 facility on US-127.
Video: Nov 3, 2010 – several fields in Hudson Township are sprayed black with liquid manure, before predicted rainfall. This practice often leads to contaminated water in field drain tiles, which pour into streams. Awful stench filled the car. Neighbors downwind are suffering today.
Oct 2010 – Foreclosure action against Vreba-Hoff
August - Bridgewater Dairy buys Chesterfield (now called Oakshade Dairy) out of foreclosure. Chesterfield left over 20 million gallons of manure in pits, according to the Bridgewater website.
August - Vreba-Hoff misses Aug 23 deadline for payment of past fines. Also, court hearing on the new lawsuit (see July, below) scheduled for September 20.
July - Sturgis Journal reports Vreba-Hoff's business arm, Midwest Ag Investments, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Journal article quotes Peter van der Vegt, director of business development for Vreba-Hoff, asserting, "the bankruptcy is an opportunity for Midwest Ag Investments LLC to protect its assets, and the bankruptcy is a part of its restructuring plan."
July 19 - New Court Action against Vreba-Hoff - Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) files a new Amended Complaint against Vreba-Hoff with the 30th Circuit Court citing numerous, continuing violations – liquid waste still doesn't meet treatment standards; Vreba-Hoff has not had a certified operator of its treatment system since April 2009; Vreba-Hoff continues unauthorized dumping of waste in the satellite lagoon on Packard Rd, an illegal groundwater discharge. DNRE requests the court to order "depopulation of the dairy operation" if treatment standards are not met. DNRE also asks the Court to order Vreba-Hoff to hire a certified operator for the "Earthmentor" system immediately, to enjoin Vreba-Hoff to stop hauling waste to the satellite lagoon and, as ordered previously, to close the lagoon down.
May 11 - after heavy rains, massive runoff from Hoffland manure application sites. Manure draglines are still in place in the fields along Tomer Rd.
May 6 – Hoffland CAFO draglining at Wheeler and Haley Rds; also applying along Tomer Road, with liquid waste ponding on already saturated ground. Draglining pumps liquid manure direct from lagoons through hoses to the field.
April 23-24 - strong emissions from Hartland Farms manure application – before predicted rainfall of 1" – along Cadmus Rd east of Hughes; Bakerlads also spraying along Cadmus west of Morey Hwy.
March - With warmer days and thaw, winter application of manure runs off fields. On March 3, blackwater from Bakerlads field tile flows to South Branch of the River Raisin.
Dec 14 - DEQ files new lawsuit against Vreba-Hoff – 4th lawsuit in 5 years – see DEQ press release
Dec 13 - runoff from field application of Bakerlads manure leads to foamy discharge at Plank Rd, South Branch of the River Raisin.
Aug 11 - Bulletin: another apparent manure discharge from Chesterfield Dairy, this time in Michigan. A neighbor reports that Chesterfield "had to bring two tankers to suck out a major manure runoff at the corner of Mulberry Road and the Sand Creek Highway. Chesterfield has been spraying manure ... all day and the rain washed the manure into the nearby creek...I believe the DEQ has been called already, the police, the health department, the road commission, the MDA, probably other agencies." Another neighbor writes, "AS DUSK APPROACHED THE STILLNESS CAME WITH IT. THERE HAS BEEN NON STOP LIQUID MANURE SPRAYED, THIS IS THE THIRD WEEK IN ALL OF 120 ACRES. IT FINALLY RAINED SO HARD THAT MANURE RAN OFF THIS ROLLING GROUND INTO THE DITCH, WHICH DUMPS INTO THE NILE WITHIN 40 YRDS. CHESTERFIELD DAIRY BARRICADED A CULVERT WITH A BLOWN UP BLADDER BALL 2 HRS.LATER. HUGE VACUUMS ARE SUCKING OUT THE POOL THAT IS BUILDING UP. STILL PUDDLES OF WATER THAT LAY AROUND THE DITCH SMELL LIKE MANURE TOO. NOW EVERYONE IS GONE THE DITCH IS FILLING UP AGAIN IT LOOKS AND SMELLS HORRENDOUS NOW ITS JUST LYING THERE NO ONE AROUND TO SUCK IT OUT MY 9 YR OLD COULDN'T TAKE THE SMELL ANY MORE AND THREW UP. WE WENT HOME DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO."
Aug 4 - Blackwater in North Medina Drain, immediately downstream from Vreba-Hoff 1 fields. ECCSCM called DEQ Emergency hotline as possible discharge. At Vreba-Hoff 2 on US-127, field tile south of the facility is running gray water.
July 16 -At 10 p.m., emergency responders report a manure discharge from Chesterfield Dairy, Lyons, OH just east of Morenci, to Little Bear Creek, a tributary of the River Raisin. Pollution Incident Report says "the creek is running black from the manure." On Friday, July 17 at least 3 mi. of the stream are still black with manure, the stream edges lined with dead fish.
June 24 - The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the public has the right to know what CAFOs do with their millions and millions of gallons of manure. CAFOs' Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) will now be submitted with their pollution control NPDES permits and will be available to the public, following a Sierra Club suit that argued the same information is required and is public in all other industrial and manufacturing NPDES permits.
June 24 - ECCSCM sampling for ammonia at 5 stream sites near Vreba-Hoff spray-irrigation finds 6ppm–highest level of Hach test strip–at EVERY SITE. Ambient freshwater ammonia levels are typically less than 0.1 ppm. Ammonia levels above 1 ppm can be toxic to some fish.
May 18 - Vreba-Hoff paid its $223,500 fine (see April 16 below); Vreba-Hoff still owes $180,000 in fines, due when the EarthMentor "treatment" system is certified as operating as designed. Vreba-Hoff says it's working fine, but ... why haven't they got the certification
May - Livestock found to be the main source of E. coli in Lake Huron. After years of arguments over where the disease-carrying bacteria come from -- humans, livestock or wildlife -- DNA "fingerprinting" says human sewage is only a tiny fraction of the problem. Manure from cattle and pigs far outweighs human sewage as the source of E. coli pollution in Lake Huron, says a new Canadian study, published in the March issue of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. See article in Ottawa Citizen (May 5, 2009) or read the abstract or full scientific study, "(REP)-(PCR) analysis of Escherichia coli isolates from recreational waters of southeastern Lake Huron" in the March issue of Canadian Journal of Microbiology.
April 16 - Vreba-Hoff orderd by 30th Circuit Court to pay $223,500 in fines no later than May 18 (see entry Feb. 3 below -- Vreba-Hoff's motion for "relief" was dismissed by Judge James R. Giddings.
April 13 - Leonidas, St. Joseph County - Vreba-Hoff-developed Bustorf Dairy permit is being appealed by Society for Protecting Environmental Assets. DEQ initially denied a permit for the proposed 2260-cow dairy, then granted the permit in March. See article in Kalamazoo Gazette.
Feb 3 - update on ongoing Vreba-Hoff lawsuit: Michigan Attorney General files a motion in 30th Circuit Court for Summary Disposition, asking the court to rule that Vreba-Hoff's undisputed fines are "due and owing immediately" to the State of Michigan. Vreba-Hoff had requested "relief" from paying its $400,000+ fines until it could add more cows to produce more income. The Attorney General's brief concludes: "Perhaps what is most ironic about Vreba-Hoff's objection and requested relief is the fact that the reason for the lawsuit in the first place was because of Vreba-Hoff's inability to properly treat or otherwise control the vast amount of agricultural waste generated by over 6,000 cows. Rather than reduce or eliminate the source of the waste, Vreba-Hoff is requesting to add even more cows, with the 'hope' that the treatment system (which has failed to meet the agreed upon standards) will somehow work as originally represented sometime in the future...MDEQ has no confidence in Vreba-Hoff's projections or abilities, and merely asks compliance with the negotiated agreements." (Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, MDEQ vs. Vreba-Hoff Dairy LLC, 30th Circuit Court, Feb 3, 2009)
Feb/Mar issue of Mother Earth News publishes article on "The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness." This article provides links to numerous recent studies on health issues, focusing especially on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in factory-farmed meats.
Dec 31, 2008 - last year's tally of offenses, degradation: 65 violations and unlawful discharges from CAFOs in our area during 2008. (See details of these violations)
Nov 6 - Mediator recommends Vreba-Hoff fiines of $223,500 for multiple violations of the 30th Circuit Court's Interim Order. The Dispute Resolution Facilitator (DRF) established by the Interim Order notes that the Order required Vreba-Hoff to construct a partial-treatment system for animal wastes, and pay $180,000 in penalties for previous violations when the "Defendant [Vreba-Hoff] presents an engineer's certification that the Earth Mentor System is operating as designed...Defendant has not presented the certification." Total fines owed by Vreba-Hoff are now $403,500. The DRF Report cites at least 10 violations, some continuing for many days, including: overflow of a manure pit (Sept. 7, 2007), discharging to Medina Drain; 3 other illegal discharges to streams; failure to remove cows as required when waste storage was insufficient; lack of freeboard marking; missed deadlines for construction of the treatment building and sand separation devices; missed deadline for operation of treatment cells at both Vreba-Hoff 1 and 2 facilities in Hudson.
Oct 29 - CAFOs fined $213,000 for road damage by Lenawee County Road Commission, 2004-2008 -- including $178,000 in fines against Vreba-Hoff for damage to Dillon Hwy and Packard Rd. New Flevo CAFO paid $35,000 for damage to Forrister Rd.
Oct 14 - Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society on Oprah Winfrey show with agribusiness reps on California's Prop. 2. which would abolish confinement of farm animals in extreme conditions -- no room to turn around or stretch their legs or wings. See NYTimes editorial, Oct. 9 (link below).
Oct 9 - New York Times editorial supports California's Propostion 2, the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.
Sept 24 - MDA cites Agri-Flite Services, a crop dusting company, with violations of state and federal pesticide laws after spraying July 30 of Headline Fungicide on Hartland Farms cornfield drifted onto neighbors' property. Several residents became ill, and MDA testing found the active ingredient of Headline, pyraclostrobin, on the residents' property and crop fields. MDA "has initiated the appropriate enforcement action with Agri-Flite Services."
Sept 24 - Government Report Links Factory Farms to Harmful Air Emissions, Water Pollution - A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study released
Sept 10 - Concerned about the water usage at proposed Vreba-Hoff dairy in Ogden Twp, Lenawee Co. Commissioners unanimously backed a well protection resolution asking the Legislature to expand existing laws that govern high-capacity wells. Limited groundwater supplies in southeast Lenawee County leave homeowners vulnerable if a dairy or other large water user moves in. Commissioners passed a resolution two years ago asking the state for a moratorium on permitting new dairies. See full article in Adrian Daily Telegram.
July 7 - After 3 years and repeated air pollution violations, State Line Farms in Morenci will shut down its swine barns at Ridgeville Rd, removing all animals by Nov. 9, and pay $28,000 in fines, under a Consent Order negotiated with Michigan's DEQ. Consent Order and details are posted for 30-day public comment.
June 30 - For the first time, the Michigan DEQ denies a proposed NPDES permit for a CAFO. Bustorf Dairy in St. Joseph County was denied a permit after very strong testimony by the township, local businesses and residents, Republicans for Environmental Protection, and the Huron Potawatomi Tribe that demonstrated “considerable disagreement on the validity of the assertions made by the applicant” regarding social and economic benefits to the community. See DEQ decision and Kalamazoo Gazette article.
May 22 - Pulic hearing in Hudson on Waldron, Vreba-Hoff permits was packed with neighbors, downstream residents, telling their stories of CAFO pollution, asking DEQ to deny NPDES permits to both CAFOs. See Adrian Telegram article. Written comments can be emailed until May 29 to Mike Bitondo, DEQ: firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLIC HEARING FOR WALDRON DAIRY AND VREBA-HOFF PERMITS -- MAY 22, 2008 -- 6:30 p.m.
week of April 14 - neighbors report Chesterfield Dairy in Lyons, OH (which receives Vreba-Hoff manure) is transporting manure back to Michigan, spraying in Seneca Twp. Numerous complaints from residents to ECCSCM and local officials.
March 27 -DEQ cites Hartland Farms and Bakerlads for illegal discharges of manure (see March 3 below).
March 12 - For 7 months, Vreba-Hoff has violated repeated DEQ orders to immediately close a manure storage structure that failed and overflowed last summer (ordered Aug 24, 2007, Sept 17, 2007, Jan 22, 2008, and again March 12, 2008). When will they comply? This manure lagoon lies adjacent to the source of a tributary of Bean Creek -- the tributary was added to Michigan's impaired water list in 2004, after repeated manure discharges by Vreba-Hoff. Think of the consequences as Lake Erie headwaters are polluted, year after year.
March 7 - Hoosiers for Sustainable Agriculture serves Notice of Intent to Sue the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Vreba-Hoff CAFO for failure to protect a rare colony of Mitchell's Satry butterfly, one of the rarest species in the world. See full press release. The Notice sets forth violations of the federal Endangered Species Act resulting from Vreba-Hoff’s plan to build “Toll-Tail Dairy, LLC” next to the fragile Pigeon River habitat. Mitchell’s Satyr lives only in a rare type of fen, at only 2 small locations in Indiana and only 13 small locations in Michigan. Under the Endangered Species Act, when proposed development threatens a listed species, the FWS has a duty to ensure that a Habitat Conservation Plan is prepared and approved before construction begins. However, in this instance FWS refused to exercise its duty even though the planned Toll-Tail Dairy will likely extinguish the Pigeon River colony of Mitchell’s Satyr. Ironically, the FWS website lists “livestock production” as one of the top threats to Mitchell’s Satyr.
March 10 - DEQ cites Waldron Dairy (Vreba-Hoff owned) for multiple violations, including 2 illegal discharges of manure to Bean Creek Watershed after application of wastes to frozen and snow-covered ground.
March 3 - rain started late morning. Almost immediately,
Hartland Farms manure was discharging
to Bear Creek from Hughes Hwy application last week, Bakerlads manure was discharging to South Branch of the River Raisin from Cadmus
& Morey application yesterday, road is flooded, and Bakerlads
are still spreading, in the rain.
Feb 13-18 - Waldron Dairy sprays manure
black on snow fields along Ridgeville Rd before thaw and predicted rain.
Runoff from these fields will flow to Lime Creek.
Feb 7 - major flooding in northern Ohio, southern Michigan after snow thaw and heavy rains. Near Lyons, OH, manure application on frozen, flooded ground, just east of CR-M and CR-13.
Jan 28, 2008 - Waldron Dairy CAFO spray-applying
liquid manure on frozen ground, as temps warm and rain starts to fall,
violating every recommended "guideline" for good ag practices.
Only outcome possible: contaminated liquid will flow to tile-inlets and
pollute Bean Creek tributaries.
Jan 22 - DEQ orders Vreba-Hoff "to cease the discharge immediately" from a tile at South Medina Drain, first noticed discharging in October, 2007.
Dec 3 - Vreba-Hoff fined $8,000 for dam safety violations under a Consent Agreement with DEQ's Land and Water Management Division, after construction of four waste lagoons/dams at the dairy facilities without required dam permits.
Nov 21, day before Thanksgiving - Bakerlads Farms/MSU
Center of Excellence discharges waste to South Branch of the River Raisin
after surface application of slurry/solids for several days with no incorporation,
no crop in field. Blissfield and Deerfield get their drinking water downstream.
Oct 26 - DEQ cites Vreba-Hoff for numerous
violations of its Interim Consent Order, including land application of
wastes to fields without sufficient phosphorus data; land application
of contaminated sand bedding, bypassing sand separation requirement; improper
composting -- "the current practice of simply piling solids
and later land applying certainly does not meet the industry standards
for composting"; removal of check dams, failure of silt fencing,
expired construction storm water permit; failure to transport off-site
the waste of "excess" cows at the dairy operations.
October- pits and more pits at Vreba-Hoff.
That's the solution to industrial dairy waste? Watch the farmland disappear.
These are "farms"? Looks like mountaintop removal mining. These
sites are the origins of 3 streams, the headwaters of Lake Erie. (see
more pit & "compost" photos)
Oct 17 - penalties mount for Vreba-Hoff --$164,000 owed as of Oct 17, with 2 ongoing violations--1) storage structure levels are not yet marked as required; 2) untreated manure is stored in settling basins of "treatment" system. Each of these violations carries a stipulated penalty of $500/day, "which is continuing to accrue." (DEQ letter to Vreba-Hoff, Oct. 17, 2007).
Sept 26 - Attorney General's office orders Vreba-Hoff to pay $141,500 in penalties for multiple violations over the last two months; also orders removal of 350 cows.
Sept 13 - DEQ notes "Vreba-Hoff has allowed conditions to further deteriorate to the point the Dairy Operations now pose a grave threat to public health and the environment." (see pdf of full DEQ letter)
Sept 13-ECCSCM applauds MSU's pasture-based dairy initiative. MSU develops pasture-based dairy and markets for pasture-based products (see press release). With a $3.5 million grant, MSU will convert the conventional dairy operation at Kellogg Biological Station to a pasture-based program over the next two years. "A 120-cow milking herd will be maintained on an intensively managed rotational grazing system and on a replicated plot-based pasture system. A portion of the milk produced at KBS will be used for production of cheese at the MSU Dairy Plant." The grant also will fund "work to develop an improved supply chain – processing, distribution and marketing programs – for pasture-raised animals."
Sept 9- Vreba-Hoff manure lagoon overflows at Vreba-Hoff 1, discharges manure into South Medina Drain. DEQ water tests find E. coli levels at 370,000/100ml in the headwaters of South Medina Drain; 2 days later, E. coli is still greater than 10,000/100 ml. On Sept 10, DEQ finds concrete lagoon still over freeboard; DEQ orders Vreba-Hoff "to take actions to prevent further discharges from this structure." DEQ finds the CAFO is "1,687,000 gal. over freeboard capacity in their storage structures." DEQ also notes, "They have not removed cows from the facility as required by the CO [Consent Order] if they go over freeboard."
Aug 24 - DEQ notes "a grave situation"
at Vreba-Hoff facilities: "The situation at Vreba-Hoff's
two Hudson-area dairies appears to have deteriorated substantially this
week." On Aug 23, a concrete storage structure failed
at V-H 1, leading to an illegal groundwater discharge. In the last month,
DEQ cited Vreba-Hoff for more than 15 violations, including
3 illegal discharges to South Medina Drain and to Durfee Creek Extension,
multiple freeboard violations, failure to meet required deadlines, etc.
(See complete list of July/August violations
cited by DEQ)
June 7, 2007 - At last! Court orders Vreba-Hoff to pay $180,000 in fines for violations, orders volume limitations on waste and construction of new waste treatment system, prohibits new barns for 10 years. (see DEQ press release;Ingham County Interim Court Order;Settlement Agreement) After years of pollution, the bad news is: the new "treatment" will not function until next year, if then; and the old "treatment" doesn't work. Which means neighbors and streams will suffer Vreba-Hoff business as usual -- pollution for many many more months.
May 18 - Durfee Creek, a stream on Michigan's 303(d) list
of impaired waters, is still foul and blackish-red, a month after manure
discharges from Vreba-Hoff. The stream still has slim
to non-existent buffers, and today--brush removal ! by the Lenawee County
Drain Commission. How can this stream recover, with continuing
abuse and degradation? In its Notice Letter citing multiple discharges
over several days, DEQ noted the pivot irrigator "travels through
a low wet area where irrigation of waste easily flows into the creek."
The letter also noted the stream "was very dark in color and had
a strong agricultural waste odor...Several areas of obvious overland flow
and erosion from the irrigated field to the creek were noted. Very
little to no vegetated buffer exists along the creek."
(DEQ Notice Letter to Vreba-Hoff, April 11, 2007)
May 4 - Vreba-Hoff Crisis-- 8 months of
overfull, overflowing lagoons, unlawful discharges, and still
no action from the court on Vreba-Hoff violations. Aerial
photos on May 4 show the north lagoon at Vreba-Hoff on US-127 overflowing
into adjacent calf hutch area. Other photos show overfull lagoons at both
April 20 - Len. Co. Road Commission asks Vreba-Hoff to pay $177,000 for road damage. "The cost of repairing three miles of gravel roads that Vreba-Hoff Dairy used to haul manure to a lagoon on Packard Road during the spring thaw is expected to be more than three times the $55,000 bond the dairy posted in January for a haul route permit." See full article in Adrian Daily Telegram.
March - April - 23 new violations
at Vreba-Hoff facilities,
since Jan 1, 2007, documented in DEQ Notice Letters of March 14, March
21, April 11.
Jan 26 - ECCSCM joins Lenawee County Commissioners and asks for a moratorium on CAFOs, as well as an immediate halt to new construction of CAFOs and lagoons in Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties, mandatory groundwater permits, mandatory monitoring wells around all new and existing CAFOs, a limit to the amount of CAFO waste applied in each watershed. and effective waste treatment of CAFO waste. See full press release.
Jan 19 - DEQ, Attorney General's office ask the 30th Judicial Circuit Court to find Vreba-Hoff in contempt of court for ongoing violations of the Consent Judgment of 2004. Petition asks for reduction in herd size until Vreba-Hoff can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Court and DEQ that it can properly manage all wastes produced by the dairies without harming water resources of the state. See DEQ press release.
Jan 10, 2007 - Lenawee County Commissioners vote unanimously (8-0) for a moratorium on CAFO construction, for pollution bonds for CAFOs, for on-site wastewater treatment similar to those for municipalities. See Resolution.
Jan 9, 2007 -Vreba-Hoff lagoons full, at the point of breaching. Vreba-Hoff began massive emergency dumping, pivot-spraying of manure at multiple locations late this afternoon, in violation of a court judgment prohibiting application in winter. DEQ officials today confirmed the CAFOs are taking evasive action and that they are aware of the violations. (see stench alerts for more details). Jan 10 - dumping continues - ECCSCM calls for an injunction to stop the illegal dumping, and asks DEQ to shut the CAFO down (after years of mis-management and repeated violations, at least 75 documented before this current onslaught of violations)
Christmas, 2006 - Just as the holiday and agency vacation time began, Vreba-Hoff began construction of a new manure lagoon (no construction permit required, no DEQ approval required? no oversight under the Consent Judgment?) on Packard Hwy west of Bothwell -- a gravel road, a 2-mile hauling drive from the facility on Dillon. No assessment was made so far as we know about the soils, the site, the possible connections to tiles, to nearby wetlands.
Vreba-Hoff's Consent Judgment requires treatment of manure to stop the
pollution, not more and more pits of untreated waste,
more and more hauling, more and more dumping.
Dec, 2006 - Vreba-Hoff proposes new 5,000-cow
CAFO near Adrian in River Raisin Watershed. This site drains to
Black Creek, already listed as "impaired." Black Creek joins
the River Raisin just upstream from Blissfield, a city that takes its
drinking water from the River. Vreba-Hoff's test wells already
dried up a neighbor's well.
Dec 1, 2006 - Noncompliance letters to Vreba-Hoff from both DEQ and the Attorney General's Office cite multiple, substantial violations (see complete list), including unlawful discharges and mismanagement of waste.The Attorney General cites "numerous violations at both of your farms...the apparent failures of the Press Treatment System and resulting accumulation of excessive amounts of CAFO waste, treated and untreated." The letter notes more than a dozen violations in 6 areas -- Unlawful Discharges, Press Treatment System, Compost Pads, Waste Storage Structures (overfull), Storm Water Management, Recordkeeping & Reporting. In October, DEQ found the Waste Treatment System was "not in operation" during numerous inspections, and noted "...based on your estimate of production, you should be running the system no less than 12 hours a day, 364 days a year in order to treat all manure currently being produced annually."
Dec 1 - rain, field flooding, after a month of heavy manure application. Think what's flowing to Lake Erie from black manure fields, bare ground saturated with waste, no crop. Nov 25 - Thanksgiving weekend - heavy field applications (always on holidays), including illegal discharges of liquid manure through field tiles at two locations: Vreba-Hoff 1, discharge (E. coli count 10,000/100ml) to Covell Dr, trib of Bean Creek, and Hartland Farms discharge (E. coli count 55,000/100ml) to tributary of South Branch of River Raisin.
Nov, 2006 - updated Health Impacts from CAFOs and Liquid Manure Application Observed in Lenawee and Hillsdale County: 2002 -2006, now available. This report by ECCSCM volunteer and R.N., Kathy Melmoth, documents public health concerns and health impacts from local CAFO air pollution. (Full report; or 1-page overview)
Oct 17, 2006 - rain last night and manure fields are flowing after heavy field applications this weekend (see stench alerts). Major contamination entering Bean Creek Watershed. Some drains are overflowing at CAFO facilities:Shierson Drain at Bruinsma; Bennett Drain at Waldron Dairy (fields flooded); wetland at Vreba-Hoff on Dillon is black.
Sept 26, 2006 - Missouri Hog
CAFO must pay $4.5 million to neighbors suffering from stench.
Sept, 2006 - Mich Dept. of Ag reports two local CAFOs have applied for expansion: Vreba-Hoff 1, on Dillon Hwy, from 3,900 cows to 4,929; and Hoffland Dairy on Haley Rd (formerly Vander Hoff Haley, from 868 to 1,680 cows. That's like adding the waste from a good-sized city, 54,000+ people, to the huge waste-stream already flowing on fields in this area.
August 2006 - Vreba-Hoff cited
by U.S. Food and Drug Administration for numerous animal/drug violations:
An FDA investigation at Vreba-Hoff on Dillon Hwy "found
that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate
that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely
to enter the food supply." Vreba-Hoff
was cited for offering "an animal for sale for slaughter as food
that was adulterated" with penicillin. Previous investigations had
found oxytetracycline in tissues in a cow offered for sale. "In regard
to this oxytetracycline residue, our investigator noted that you administered
an approved animal drug via a route, intrauterine, which was not indicated
in the labeling, without benefit of a valid veterinarian-client-patient
relationship and that you failed to maintain adequate treatment records."
August - see timeline on the suffering of neighbors, their symptoms and sickness from State Line Farms hog emissions, Jan - Aug, 2006. 36 days of stench so intolerable that neighbors called DEQ. State Line has received two Letters of Violation for air pollution, citing dozens of days violating air quality law. Still no fines for this polluting facility.
July, 2006 -
Front page article,"Cattle emissions: Hazardous to health?"
in the Adrian Daily Telegram (7/2/06) describes a pilot project
under development for Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties to assess health
impacts from CAFO facilities and land application, including a 4-page
for residents with exposure to CAFO emissions.
June, 2006 - Monitoring in progress--Dissolved Oxygen levels plummet downstream from Vreba-Hoff.
April, 2006 - New Flevo CAFO must pay $42,000 in fines and costs, and must cease land application of manure in winter, as part of settlement of lawsuit after multiple manure discharges. See DEQ press release for more details.
April 19, 2006 - After 6 years, it's the same polluted air, the same degradation and contamination of water -- after 6 years! Where's the backbone, where's the will to clean up? or shut CAFOs down if they can't clean up? Today, with massive manure applications, the pumping of multi-million-gallon waste pits, there's stench from Bakerlads draglining, east of facility; stench from Hoffland application at two locations, also Bruinsma. Winds are carrying stench from facilities as well: State Line Farms cited by DEQ for emissions yesterday, and reported again today; stench west of Vreba-Hoff 2 along Elm Rd. Intense emissions from Vreba-Hoff 1 along Dillon Hwy -- burns eyes, sickly stench, "nauseating," "You can't live with this. This is hell."
Also today (see photos below) two sites draining Vreba-Hoff 1 on Dillon Hwy tested extremely low (3.6mg/L) for Dissolved Oxygen, a serious violation of Michigan's water standard, which is 5.0mg/L or higher for DO. The water at another site on Elm Rd just west of Vreba-Hoff 2 was covered with a floating, slick brown film.
March 2006 - red water at Vreba-Hoff stream. What is it? South Medina Drain, a stream listed as "impaired" in 2004 after multiple manure discharges from Vreba-Hoff, looks worse than ever this month -- deep blood-red. See photo-sequence of this stream through many colors of contamination: red, yellow, brown, gray, black, 2002-2006.
March - again, and again, with thaw and spring rains,
liquid manure flows and pollutes after application to frozen fields.
When will they learn? We go through this year after year
(check it out). Liquid manure on frozen ground
will do one thing -- run off -- on the surface, or through tile inlets.
Either way, pollution flows to our streams. Email DEQ (email@example.com)
and say, we've had enough. Michigan should prohibit
application of liquid manure to frozen ground.
Feb 7, 2006 -Sierra
Club releases documentary, Living a Nightmare: Animal Factories
in Michigan, with local farmers and neighbors describing
the degradation of water and air, the damage to rural economies, and the
risk to public health.
February 1, 2006 - Michigan suit against Hoffland CAFO - formerly VanderHoff Haley Dairy - is settled (see DEQ press release). Hoffland will pay $20,000 in fines, and must cease land application of agricultural waste to snow or ice-covered soil when the waste cannot be injected or incorporated. The CAFO will also be required to install a press treatment system (liquid/solid separation) for the "stabilization of waste produced in the cow barns."
January 16, 2006 - State Line Farms cited again for air emisssions.
July - November, 2005 - following investigation of numerous air quality complaints over several months, DEQ cites State Line Farms for violation of the federal Clean Air Act and Michigan air pollution law (Rule 901 - "A person shall not cause or permit the emission of an air contaminant in quantities that cause injurious effect to human health, property, or the unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property"). 9 inspections between July and November found "strong" or "very strong" odors, burning sensation in the nose, "objectionable hog waste odors," etc. State Line must report by Jan 6, 2006 on the causes of the violations and on remedial action taken to prevent reoccurence of emissions. State Line refused to accept Letter of Violation sent Nov. 10, 2005. TheLetter of Violation was finally hand-delivered on December 8, 2005.
Holidays, 2005 -
Winter Waste Application
Manure can't fertilize crops when there is no crop; it can't reach soils
when the ground is covered with snow. Spraying on snow and frozen
ground serves one purpose only -- waste disposal. Dumping. It's free to
CAFOs. It's costly and hazardous to the rest of us.
June 20 - Vreba-Hoff
discharges manure AGAIN, into South Medina Drain, which was placed on
Michigan's "impaired waters" list last year because of previous
contamination from Vreba-Hoff. Black manure water is discharging
through field tiles, after pivot-irrigation of liquid manure on growing
crop. ECCSCM volunteer called DEQ hotline; DEQ took water samples.
Dissolved Oxygen is 0.5 mg/L, well below fish-kill level.
North Medina Drain is clear, South Medina Drain is grossly discolored,
smells of manure. V-H resumed pivot irrigation in same location
in late afternoon. ECCSCM took water samples for E. coli.
June 13 - DEQ, MDA documents reveal months of inaction on CAFO air violations (summary below)
April - MSU report details DNA study of Cryptosporidium, a pathogen that can cause serious diarrhea and sometimes death, which was found at extremely high levels in water samples from Rice Lake Drain at Haley Rd, a River Raisin tributary, immediately downstream from Hoffland (formerly VanderHoff Haley) Dairy CAFO. Tests showed an average concentration of 10,866 oocysts/100L, with a high of 49,900 on Dec. 6, 2004. A sample on Dec. 6 showed infectivity in cell culture. DNA testing found "the Cryptosporidium sequence from the white tile into Rice Lake drain collected on 12/7/04 has the closest relationship to sequences of the bovine genotype" (see more on MSU findings)
- all CAFOs applying liquid manure. Air emissions, stench downwind is
CAFO must install wastewater treatment system, pay $75,000
July 9 -- after moderate rains in early July, liquid manure is discharging
at several sites, including an inlet to Durfee Lake, and South Medina
Drain, where the water looks very foul, a reddish-brown color.
June 10, 2003 -- Another manure discharge from Jelsma/Mericam
The American Public Health Association (APHA) has issued a resolution
urging federal, state, and local government health agencies to impose
a precautionary moratorium on all new Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
(CAFOs). Pollution, health,
and economic impacts cited as reasons for
a moratorium. (see APHA
March 2-15, 2003 -- Liquid
manure applied to frozen ground has been running off fields, pouring into
streams. We've seen massive contamination in three watersheds these two
weeks -- 5 more confirmed discharges. DEQ E. coli samples
at one site on March 4 reached the highest levels yet: 1,340,000/100 ml
(more than 1,300 times the acceptable level). None of the
pollution was contained -- it all flowed downstream into the St. Joseph
River, the River Raisin, or the Bean/Tiffin River to Lake Erie.
Friday, March 7, 2003 -- weather is warming slightly. Most streams are still solid ice, but some drains downstream from fields where liquid manure was applied are flowing brown.
5, 2003 --all sites had water
discoloration, manure odor
field locations with massive runoff to drains and streams:
November, 2002 -- CAFO intimidation tactics. Two manure-tankers and hauler's truck block ECCSCM Vice-President's car on a country road. See photos.
FIRST DOCUMENTED CAFO VIOLATIONS
1997-2000 - first dairy CAFOs constructed in the Hudson area