2018-06-14 / Letters

Family Farms As Compared To Large Factory Farms

To The Editor:

The fact is small family farms have been decreasing at an alarming rate since the 1970s. They have declined by nearly 40 percent be - tween 1969 and 2002. Many factors have influenced this decline: increased building of housing developments, farm equipment costs, land prices, decreased interest in farming, and for various other reasons.

However, one of the most influential factors in the decrease in family farms is the increase of the number of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Current market conditions are causing CAFOs to thrive and causing small farms to dwindle. The impact to our county in the future could be devastating.

Not only the potential to pollute our springs, streams and wells, the over- spreading of manure and runoff that has the potential of polluting the air we breathe. Cases of MRSA, a highly contagious form of respiratory infection, are increasing in areas where factory farms are located. In our local community these operations pose a real threat to our water. We are located in the headwaters of the Potomac River and therefore contribute to the Chesapeake Bay. Creeks flow into the Potomac and the Susquehanna rivers. Both contribute to the water and health of the Chesapeake Bay.

We in Fulton County are at the very head of the water cycle, and we get all of our water from the rain- fed streams and underground aquifer in our immediate area. There is absolutely no water flowing into our county; it only flows out.

This is why we need to preserve and protect and not allow pollution to occur. When rainfall is deficient, we are told to conserve our water. Large factory farms require millions of gallons of water for their operations. Why should we have to bear the burden? We gain nothing but fear for the future by having these operations in our county.

As for contamination of our water, any accident or spill, even if unintentional, could result in contamination and pollution of our groundwater and aquifier and thus our domestic wells and local streams. O ur well water could be affected for years to come, not to mention the effect on our local fishing and waterways downstream that lead to the Chesapeake Bay.

A case in point, the trout nursery operation in Big Cove Tannery had a severe pollution incident about 12 years ago. A manure pit upstream from the nursery overflowed and made its way through underground sinkholes and polluted the spring that feeds the raceways where the trout were raised. As a result thousands of trout died.

Even to this day there are bacteria issues that sometimes happen in our fish when high water occurs because of the residue still there in the underground path where the water travels.

To maintain these large factory farms, millions of gallons of water are needed. The effect of drawing this much water from our underground water resources, especially when drought conditions occur in the summer would be devastating. Domestic wells could go dry, streams could be reduced to very low flows and springs could be depleted.

Bottom-line, we are not against family farms or farming. However, we as citizens of Fulton County must be aware and also fearful for the future if our county is taken over by these large factory farms. We must maintain and preserve our rural beauty and landscape and protect our rights to have clean air and water and to maintain our property values.

David Lippert and members of Big Cove Watershed Alliance

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