Is it time to clarify some of the issues in the mega-dairy dispute? I have heard some disturbing rumors. Those of us who oppose the mega-dairy are doing so because it threatens clean air, clean water and health. No one is opposed to livestock in Jo Daviess County. We respect and are thankful for our farmers. They care for their animals and their resources. They are our good neighbors. They support our schools and communities. The mega-dairy threatens the dairies already here; not through efficiency, but through market manipulation and monopolization. One mega-dairy could displace 50 or more dairy families in the region. That results in a loss of jobs, not a gain of jobs. This loss of economic activity has been researched many times over. And one has only to observe our neighbor to the west. Iowa has lost 95 percent of its pork farmers while keeping the same pork production; same pigs, fewer farmers. This market consolidation was accompanied by promises of more money for schools and communities. Yet, none of these promises came true.
To fight against the mega-dairy is to fight for air, water and health. When the senior engineer for the project testifies that it will leak “a little less than 40,000 gallons/day,” and that leakage is less than 5 feet above the aquifer, the contamination will get into the aquifer. (Research has shown contaminated soils more than 9 feet below manure ponds; Hamm, 2002). It makes no sense to place so much leakage so close to an aquifer.
Furthermore, the project has never met the regulations. The mega-dairy project does not meet set-backs. The IDOA ignored more than five scientists as to its geology. It is illegally positioned with a stream within its boundaries, and still lacks at least one permit for construction. If you or I tried to operate a farm or even a car without the right licenses and permits, we would be thrown in jail. “Where regulations are not enforced, there are no regulations.” (Lester Johnson) Is it just because we live in Illinois that these regulations are overlooked?
We continue to fight to protect Jo Daviess County, our farmers, our communities and our families. The people who support us are both conservatives and liberals, both Democrats and Republicans. They are people like you and me. And we still need your help!
From the April 7-13, 2010 issue