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See New Year's Eve video of bulldozed houses, closed SMD barns.
Dec 28 - Is Southern Michigan Dairies closing down its facilities? SMD 1 and 3 were emptied of animals last fall. SMD 2 along US-127 has emptied one barn. A cow hauler is sitting at the north end of the facility. The house across US-127 has been bulldozed down. The house and barns across from the SMD 1 facility on Dillon have also been dozed into a heap.

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.

Janet Kauffman, spokesperson for Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, presented a letter from the organizations to the Commission at their meeting today. Kauffman said "the big picture shows big impact and real harm -- to neighbors, to watersheds, and to the Great Lakes. To stop pollution downwind and downstream, agricultural practices can't just be for one farm anymore. We need to add it all up and find practices that protect whole communities, and whole watersheds."

According to the letter, the voluntary GAAMPs for liquid manure and facility concentration have lagged far behind the scientific documentation of the negative impacts of this waste on public health, natural resources and the well-being of communities. By law the GAAMPs are updated every year, however updates are usually minimal and has not addressed the rapid growth of intensive livestock practices. The introduction of liquid manure systems and the application of the liquid manure onto fields with subsurface tiles, and rapid expansion and the concentration of large facilities has been linked to water pollution downstream, including in the Great Lakes. Pathogens, including E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia are commonly found in ditches that drain the farms into streams and lakes.

Lyman Welch, Water Quality Program Manager, Alliance for the Great Lakes, explained the significance of cumulative impacts, “Agricultural runoff threatens our Great Lakes with algal blooms that harm the lakes’ health, and the economy of the region through lost tourism and lost recreational use. Michigan’s agricultural practices must be updated to help prevent nutrient runoff from harming the Great Lakes.”

“Thirty years is a significant length of time, time to reassess practices for effectiveness,” said Rita Chapman, Sierra Club Clean Water Program Manager, “to make sure they still result in clean water and air, and healthy sustainable agricultural communities. It’s time to look ahead to agricultural practices that all can live with.”

In addition to ECCSCM, Sierra Club and the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the letter presented to the Commission today was signed by the following organizations:

- Adrian Dominican Sisters, Program for Justice Peace, and Corporate Responsibility
- Clean Water Action
- Clinton River Watershed Council
- Food and Water Watch
- Great Grand Rapids Food Systems Council
- Izaak Walton League of America, Dwight Lydell Chapter
- Lone Tree Council
- Michigan Environmental Council
- Michigan Farmers Union
- Michigan Trout Unlimited
- National Wildlife Federation
- Program of Environmental Studies/Geology, Alma College
- Society for Protecting Environmental Assets
- Western Lake Erie Waterkeepers

Nov 28 - Lagoons at SMD 2 along US-127 appear very full.

Winner 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize
as featured in Ophra Winfrey's O magazine

Lynn Henning, CAFO Water Sentinel for Sierra Club, and member of ECCSCM Board of Directors, is the 2010 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America. The Goldman prize is granted to only 6 activists world-wide. Lynn was awarded for her work to protect natural resources from CAFO pollution. She was presented the award in San Francisco on April 19 and spoke in Washington, D. C. on Earth Day weekend. See article in the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Lynn's Sierra Club Water Sentinel monitoring has led to numerous CAFO violations in our area, documented by the DEQ.
Lynn Henning

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.

Sunday, Aug 14 - tanker discharging water into North Medina Drain, Ingall Hwy; tractor with pump and another semi in the field near head of North Medina Drain.

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.
Lagoons at Hartland Farms, 6-4-11

April 25, 2011 - with some CAFO lagoons nearly full and rain in the forecast every day this week, manure is being hauled to other locations. Over the long Easter weekend, manure tankers were rolling from Hartland Farms to Bakerlads, from Southern Michigan Dairy 2 to SMD 3.

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 a van Bakel or Vreba-Hoff affiliated entity." See the full ACO document.

February 2011 Newsletter

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.