OK….look, always do my thinking while working…and just got off the tractor and did some ponderin’ while bush-hogging the pasture. We have been told that we cannot interfere with the chicken industry, because they have the “right to farm”. Made me think about my history with farming….granddad was a dairy and produce farmer, and my dad worked the farm until WWII. I worked on the farm with my grandgfather until they sold it when I was 14. Then at 25 I bought my own farm, raised quarter horses and grew wheat. Sold that farm in 1998 and moved to the city, then bought this mini-farm in 2006; This farm is surrounded by 100’s of acres of active cropland. Last year, when a new farmer took over renting the fields, the new hires broke 3 of my fenceposts clean off at the ground. They roped the boards together so my horses would not get out, then the gentleman came to me to tell me he would fix the fence. We told him not to worry…I would fix it because I support farming, always have. Then they began to send the spray planes over, without notifying us first that we should bring our horses in, like the farmer did before. Not to worry,…rather than complaining…we would run out and bring them in when we heard the buzz of propellers. We support their operation. This year they planted the corn so close to our fence that I could not run the bush hog around the outside perimeter, leaving me to keep the weeds down by hand and a gas powered weed whacker. No issue, tho. We support the right to farm.
But this proposed onslaught by the industrial chicken growers is no “family farm” or even a commercial farming operation. They are a perceived 24/7 assault on the environment in the form of odors, runoff, and most certainly the production of hundreds of tons of what I consider toxic waste; and that is I believe it is. The manure can contain heavy metals, pathogens, and most of all nitrates and phosphates. The latter are toxins when they get into an aquatic environment and threaten to spell the deathknell for our thriving aquaculture industry.
We need to separate this industrial concept from the family or even commercial farm operation. That is why I say we should change our rhetoric and call these plans what they are…industrial factory chicken production plants. They have no place in Northampton County, and if they do, they should be treated as an industrial use.
We, as taxpayers, renters, and supporters of this great county also have rights. The right to the peaceful enjoyment of our life and property, without the pending threat of contaminated groundwater, polluted and befouled air, and its associated odors. The “right” to infringe on those basic amenities by an industrial use in a residential, hamlet, village or agricultural zone does not rise above our invested rights in one of the most sensitive, fragile, and wonderful ecosystems east of the Mississippi, if not the nation..
Ken Dufty, Wardtown Road