The Great Lakes State has a problem. The small dairy farms Michigan is known for are increasingly being forced out of business to make way for huge, industrial-scale factory farms. Those factory farms are causing a host of problems, with polluted waters and toxic algal blooms high on the list. Michigan’s water is quickly reaching a tipping point, so last year we partnered with allies to advocate for critical improvements to the permit that is supposed to protect Michigan’s waterways from factory farms. Despite fierce opposition from the Farm Bureau and their factory farm cronies, we won several important protections!
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The Permit From Michigan’s EGLE Sets Important Baseline Standards For Factory Farms
This “general permit,” issued by Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), sets the standards for factory farms in the state for at least the next five years. We didn’t get everything we wanted in our fight to improve the permit, but it does include important reforms to protect Michigan’s water resources, including a partial ban on dumping manure on frozen or snow-covered ground and restrictions on where manure can be spread. These improvements don’t go far enough, but they will help protect drinking water supplies and keep factory farm pollution out of Michigan’s rivers and streams and the Great Lakes.
But our fight isn’t over yet. The Michigan Farm Bureau and its factory farm industry allies refuse to accept anything but a license to pollute with abandon, and are suing to overturn the improvements in the permit.
The Michigan Farm Bureau’s Argument Against It Is Literally A Load Of Sh*t
EGLE’s permit improvements that limit manure spreading during a few months each winter simply reflect the reality that if factory farms supposedly spread waste on cropland as fertilizer, crops need to be able to use it. Have you been to Michigan in winter? There are no crops on those frozen and snow-covered fields. Yet the Farm Bureau is willing to sue to protect factory farms’ ability to dump their waste all winter rather than using it as fertilizer — a practice that basically ensures manure will run off into nearby waterways.
The Farm Bureau is also challenging EGLE’s efforts to reduce the amount of factory farm pollution reaching Michigan’s already polluted waters. After extensive input from citizens and experts, ongoing deadly algal blooms, and indisputable evidence that factory farms are a big part of the problem, EGLE adopted stricter limits on which fields can be used as factory farm dumping grounds. Essentially, EGLE is saying factory farms need to be careful when dumping manure near waterways that are already suffering excessive pollution from factory farms. Seems like common sense to us. The Michigan Farm Bureau disagrees.
We’re Standing Between The Michigan Farm Bureau And Their Intent To Pollute
Our coalition won’t let this go unanswered — we’ve intervened in the case to oppose the Farm Bureau and ensure that polluters are not allowed to roll back the progress we’ve made.
Heard the saying “when someone tells you who they are, believe them?” The Farm Bureau’s tactics expose it for what it is — a factory farm industry mouthpiece willing to sacrifice the Great Lakes, countless rivers and streams, and Michigan’s sustainable family famers in the pursuit of profit and to prop up the failing factory farm system. The Farm Bureau is enemy No. 1 to clean water, but that’s why we’re here. We’re proud to stand with our allies against the Farm Bureau’s attempt to turn Michigan into a toxic wasteland, and we’re ready to fight!
Factory farms harm our health, our communities, and our quality of life. They drive family farms out of business and harm the welfare of animals. And they pollute our water — from our local streams to our iconic Great Lakes. Ultimately, we must build a new system of agriculture that works for communities, small farmers, and the environment. We’re building power to pass the Farm System Reform Act, a federal bill that will overhaul our food and farming systems and get rid of filthy, polluting factory farms. In the meantime, we must continue to fight the factory farm industry’s efforts to roll back environmental protections and hold them accountable for destroying our waterways — in Michigan and beyond.
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