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Watershed group to learn about CAFOs

CAFOs Watersheds in the four-township area – Barry and Prairieville in Barry,Richland, Ross townships and Kalamazoo

Watershed group to learn about CAFOs

The Four Township Water Resources Council will hold its annual meeting starting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 13, in the auditorium of the Stack Building at the Kellogg Biological Station on the east shore of Gull Lake.

Watersheds in the four-township area – Barry and Prairieville in Barry County, and Richland and Ross townships in Kalamazoo County – have had productive livestock and crop farms for generations. As with many other industries, a gradual process of consolidation means numerous small family farms are being replaced by a few much larger farms.

The largest livestock farms are referred to as CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations. There are currently two dairy CAFOs and one beef CAFO in the four townships. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, manure from a dairy milking 200 cows produces as much nitrogen as is in the sewage from a community of 5,000-10,000 people. The two dairies in the Four Townships milk more than 3,000 cows. This means they produce the manure equivalent of the sewage from a city of 75,000-150,000 people every year.

“The council is not considering whether or not CAFOs are the most appropriate way to operate dairy farms,” member Dr. Kenneth Kornheiser said. “But we are concerned about the proper disposition of all that manure in a location with many valuable lakes and wetlands and where most of our citizens still derive their drinking water from wells.”

Scheduled to speak are Bruce Washburn, environmental quality analyst for Southwest Michigan, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, on the regulatory framework for CAFO manure management; and Lynn Henning, Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Michigan family farmer and field coordinator for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project on citizen responses to CAFOs.

Nomination and election of officers and board members will take place after the presentation.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be served.


Image:  Bovine takes a break This large cow was just resting in the rain near a pond on West Cloverdale Road just off M-43. Hey, it's OK to lounge around occasionally. No need to gawk. Just moove on. (Sorry, we couldn't resist.)


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