Lansing, MI -- This week, under the leadership of Governor Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) released a Draft CAFO 2020 Permit that outlines plans to ban the application of industrial agricultural waste on soil during January, February, and most of March.
Advocates, who have for years been pushing for a ban on manure spreading on frozen ground, applaud this improvement as one of the first state level feats against factory farms. However, the group objects to the two and three-quarters month ban restrictions.
A comprehensive ban on manure spreading must not be bound to arbitrary month distinctions that disregard seasonal weather patterns and allow for manure spreading on frozen ground outside of the strictly identified timeline.
While the draft permit would be a step forward for water and food safety in Michigan, it falls short as written. The only solution that will protect Michigan communities from factory farm winter runoff is a total frozen-ground ban, untethered to cursory month constraints. If the permit is not updated, advocates will continue to urge Governor Whitmer and the state legislature to take immediate and comprehensive action on this issue.
To urge the agency for a full ban:
Public Comment to EGLE is open October 30th through December 18th and can be submitted here: https://fwwat.ch/CAFOcomments
Members of the Great Farms Great Lakes coalition responded as follows.
Food & Water Action Senior Organizer Rebecca Wolf said:
“We urge Governor Whitmer to stand up to the Farm Bureau and choose public health and the safety of the Great Lakes over the interests of polluting factory farms. While this partial ban is a testament to the power of people coming together and holding polluters accountable, it needs to create full protections from the most egregious manure pollution. A full ban is an essential building block in a future of sustainable, pasture-based, family farming--where Michigan is leading the way.”
Jessica Culpepper, Director of Public Justice’s Food Project, said:
“Applying manure on frozen ground makes no logical sense, but it is a convenient way for industrial facilities to offload their waste onto their neighbors. We'd like to see more from the Governor, and we'll continue to fight for a full ban on this practice, which benefits industrial profits at the expense of Michigan's communities."
Gail Philbin, Director of the Michigan Sierra Club, said:
“Sierra Club has been working on the issue of factory farm pollution and runoff into our Great Lakes for more than two decades, engaging local residents and communities in the fight to protect our water. This is a welcome sign that the state agency in charge of protecting the environment is finally realizing that we have to treat this problem as the serious public and environmental health problem that it is."
Food & Water Action is the political advocacy arm of the research and education organization Food & Water Watch. We mobilize people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water and climate problems of our time.