Environmental impact depends on how well dairy operators follow the rules

US - Vickie Price and Teresa Van Havel both live within about a mile of the Vreba-Hoff dairy on Dillon Highway in Medina Township. Ask their opinions about the facility, though, and the answers will be as far apart as east and west — literally.
calendar icon 22 January 2007
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“When we first moved here, we raised 150 hogs, and it never smelled anywhere near as bad,” said Price, who has lived on Ingall Highway, southwest of the dairy’s present location, for 30 years. “You go outside, and then you smell like manure.”

Van Havel, meanwhile, lives on Munson Highway, east of the dairy, and said she and her family can smell the facility for about five days out of the year.

“I have no problems with them,” Van Havel said.

Price and Van Havel aren’t the only ones who have different views of how large dairies affect their surroundings.

For months, environmental groups have been fighting a proposed dairy in Ogden Township, fearful that it will damage the environment or even put their health at risk. But supporters of the development say large dairies can be good neighbors and are constantly looking for new ways to decrease their environmental impact.

Environmental concerns about large dairies are mostly related to their impact on air and water quality. T.J. Bucholz, communication director for the Michigan Department of Community Health, said waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, is only harmful if not disposed of properly.

“In a perfect world, there shouldn’t be any health risks,” Bucholz said. “But there are some bad actors who have the potential to negatively impact human health.”

Bacteria, such as E. coli, can pose “extensive human health risk,” Bucholz said, but noted that he was not aware of any cases of illness related to CAFO pollution in Michigan.

Source:The Daily Telegram
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