“Summer evenings, when the air’s real still, every one of those cows is kicking up dust with every step, manure dust,” Mr. Frantz said. “That cloud of dust can float right into your home, right over it, through the cracks. It’s manure that you’re breathing, not even dirt.” – From the NY Times article (above) by Beth Gardiner
Manure particulates carry molds, bacteria and other potentially dangerous pathogens. The likelihood that manure from a large dairy farm will contain one or more pathogens is “very high,” according to the EPA. These pathogens include E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia and Cryptosporidium. All can cause severe diarrhea and can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems as well as infants, young children and pregnant women — about 20 percent of the U.S. population. It can even lead to life threatening lung disease in those who were formerly healthy.
But farmers who have farm plans do not think we have a right to know that. They enter into farm plans with the conservation district and the county that are kept secret from the public. And they make us sign a Right To Farm Act, acknowledging that farms are nearby and we will be exposed to many things, like noise, dust, traffic and heavy machinery, but HEALTH IMPACTS ARE NOT EVEN LISTED.
Don’t we have a right to know what we are being exposed to? And it is not as simple to figure out as you might think. I was looking and did not know. There are trees and shrubbery that hide property from view and barns placed behind homes can be difficult to see. I learned that a neighbor down the road had at least a dozen or more cows, in addition to horses and sheep, when the weather warmed up and they were put out to pasture… more animals than I had ever seen in a field before.
Don’t we have a right to know what we are being exposed to if we move somewhere, or if someone new moves in? I say that we demand waiver of farm plan secrecy and that the Right To Farm Act must be done in tandem with a Right To Know Disclosure Form that they must complete for neighbors.
In the meantime, council members are drafting comp. plan policies that are increasingly “farm friendly”, (i.e, voluntary and incentive based) as if there are no impacts paid by the rest of us. Yet, we all know that 30% of the ground water wells in the north county are contaminated with dangerous nitrates from manure. I would like to see Rud [Browne] and Satpal [Sidhu] be as concerned about public health and safety as they are about farmers and the economy.