Editor’s Note: These Comments were read into the record at the Northampton Co. BoS meeting September,8, 2015
I reference the letter read by Mr. Meyers, authored and signed by the esteemed faculty, of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University.
- I wish to submit this document as scientific evidence supporting the claim that industrial poultry operations, in Northampton Co. VA. would detrimentally effect the health, safety,and welfare of this county’s citizens, and therefor entitles and requires this county to protect its citizens , through regulation and enforcement of setback requirements and other zoning tools pertaining to these types of operations, otherwise known as CAFOs.
- The Right to Farm Acts, specifically states that measures can be enacted to regulate agricultural activities, if deemed necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community.
- Proponents of industrial poultry operations in Northampton, have dismissed this letter, addressed to the Health Director of Somerset County, as irrelevant and without merit. THEY offer no scientific data of their own in repudiation, only comments like “bunk!” They refer to peer reviewed literature as ”so-‐called studies” and ignore the significance of the requirement that these studies be replicable in any setting , whether in Somerset Co., Arkansas, or Thailand in order to be published.
- I am submitting, for inclusion in tonight’s record,a literature review, containing a list of articles,most of which are peer reviewed or based on peer reviewed studies, and other bits of corroborated information, that support the claim that CAFOs represent a clear and significant public health threat in Northampton Co.
- The literature review references topics of concern relating to CAFOs, such as groundwater contamination and underestimated projected usage figures, zoonotic disease threats and transmission, including avian influenza , nutrient runoff,vermin, odors,Vibrio and other pathogens, endocrine disruptors, and more,
- Northampton Co. citizens must be protected from an industry ,that in many instances continues to show inadequate success in self-regulation, shows little apparent regard to possible depletion of our limited fragile aquifer, will not allow researchers to test for bacteria and contaminants in the poultry house environment citing biosecurity concerns( knowing full well, that modern techniques can trace these through fingerprinting methods in the lab). Some of these companies will not release feed ticket
labeling, as they continue to use antibiotics as growth promoters citing proprietary concerns to circumvent scientific and public questions over the use of medically significant antibiotics in poultry feeds, and the associated proliferation of antibiotic resistant pathogens. One industry advocate asked the Maryland legislature to make it illegal to release the name and location of poultry farms experiencing outbreaks of avian influenza, even as concerns arouse over transmissions to human victims. The sudden proliferation of large CAFOs with their flocks reaching tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands contribute significant danger through interface between poultry and humans and facilitates the potential for the mutation and spread of avian flu strains into human populations.
- The poultry industry is undergoing rapid expansion. This expansion is seeing building projects, and numbers in flocks that could not have been foreseen by past planning commissions i.e.millions and millions of chickens. We are dealing with a situation that could be fraught with unintended consequences, resulting in long term serious public health ramifications. We are only beginning to see the deleterious effects of longterm application of poultry manure, runoff from CAfO operations, and overuse of our limited groundwater resources in areas of existing CAFO operations.
- Poultry industry officials may offer several “ new” innovations and methods to address ammonia, phosphorus, odors, presence of pathogens in manure, etc.I have included a number of studies about ammonia scrubber technology and development and application of alum in poultry houses. New generation ammonia scrubbers will either use huge amounts of water or be dependent on acids. Alum may help with ammonia issues, and bind a good percentage of phosphorus, but these technologies have not been proven, and raise questions about licensing and safety for storage, transport, and application of these chemicals. Studies point to reduced numbers of bacteria, including pathogenic ones, in soils treated with manure with alum.However, we see a shift in the biota of those soils to fungi, many dangerous and pathogenic in their own right. What effects will that have on soils in the long term, and on neighboring bodies of water?
- I acknowledge that Industrialized Poultry Farming may be suitable for other areas however the evidence clearly defines conditions of geography, water, and the ability to dispose of the waste in all forms. Those conditions are not compatible to Northampton County.
- If it should be determined by a majority of the BOS this type use is to be permitted, I would recommend the following setback requirements as a minimum:
- 1000’ from property lines 1500′ from any existing residence 1500’, from any residential use building, including property opposite a public road right of way(to include schools, churches, offices etc)
A plan defining the area to dispose of all waste products generated on site for the life of the building a plan acceptable to the State Veterinarian and DEQ defining the area to dispose of dead poultry
- I respectfully ask all Northampton Co. farmers, and the local farm lobby members, to carefully examine this research before deciding to engage in and/or support CAFOs here.We are all concerned for our, and our future generations’ health, safety and welfare.