For Immediate Release — March 20, 2019
Contact: Rebecca Wolf, 202-683-2507, [email protected]
Mike Berkowitz, 517-999-1305, [email protected]
Lansing — State legislators introduced a bill today that would ban disposing of manure, fertilizer, and waste from livestock operations on frozen or snow-covered soil. Senator Rosemary Bayer and Representative Kevin Hertel introduced the bill — Senate Bill 247and House Bill 4418 — which would protect valuable state water resources from contamination.
Michigan has close to 300 industrial-scale livestock facilities which, depending on the species, can house up to millions of animals that produce enormous amounts of waste — a toxic slurry of manure, chemicals, pathogens and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. The nitrogen and phosphorus — especially from large-scale dairy operations — feed algae blooms like the one that poisoned drinking water for Toledo and southern Michigan in 2014. This toxic manure runs into the sources of drinking water.
"There are a lot of threats to water quality in Michigan and the solutions aren't always obvious, but in the case of harmful algae blooms, we know one thing we can do immediately to address the problem," said Gail Philbin, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter director. "A total ban on the practice of applying waste to frozen or snow-covered ground, with no exceptions, will stem a significant source of nutrients that feed the algae blooms that compromise water quality in Michigan every year."
“Michiganders understand that applying manure to frozen or snow-covered ground is a bad way to treat your neighbors,” said Jessica Culpepper of Public Justice. “Factory farms do it to make an extra buck at the expense of the state’s waterways, and the safety of its people. With the introduction of this bill, the people’s representatives have an opportunity to ensure corporations operating in Michigan are responsible to those who use its waters.”
“Enough is enough,” said Rebecca Wolf of Food & Water Watch. “Allowing factory farms to dump manure on frozen ground where it almost immediately makes its way into rivers, streams and lakes is a ridiculous giveaway to this polluting industry – at the expense of our drinking water. It’s time for Michigan legislators to take a stand and protect the people of Michigan, the Great Lakes, and drinking water from the toxic pollution generated by factory farms.”
On April 17th, members from groups across Michigan will gather at the State Capitol to pressure legislators to take bold action on agricultural pollution by passing this legislation.