Edgefield County As It Happens
Edgefield County, South Carolina

July 30, 2005
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Letter to the Editor
web posted July 30, 2005

Dear Editor,

In the interest of balance and fairness, I request that you please print
the following letter in your next publication:

Setting the Record Straight

Recent articles in this newspaper have quoted various representatives
and lobbyists for the chicken industry characterizing local residents
opposed to Rodney Cato’s proposed factory farm as little more than
anti-farming, environmental wackos.  In reality, we are concerned,
taxpaying citizens of Edgefield County, and we have done our homework.
Listening uncritically to the proponents of the poultry industry is akin
to taking the word of big tobacco and the asbestos industry that their
industries were perfectly safe - before independent analyses proved them
wrong.  Why not publish the following Internet links and allow your
readers to do their own, independent research:

-Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Calls for a moratorium on the development of CAFOs (Confined Animal
Feedlot Operations) due to adverse health effects to the surrounding

-State Environmental Resource Center
Tells how federal and state protections are inadequate and how
progressive counties and communities are taking steps to safeguard
themselves from improper placement of factory farms.

-Factory Farm.org
Provides evidence of how CAFOs hurt property value.

-National Resource Defense Council
Gives evidence concerning health effects of CAFOs to local residents,
including elevated risks of spontaneous abortions.

-The Sierra Club
Straight poop on CAFOs and their end product: manure.

-U.S. Centers for Disease Control
Discusses the need for further research into the health effects of
factory farms.

-Farm Web
A vast bibliography on CAFOs if you want to learn more.

Again, the citizens pushing for stricter setback rules for CAFOs and
manure spreading operations are not anti-farming, we are pro-citizen.
Similar setbacks have been proposed in Aiken and Barnwell counties this
summer, so this is not some situation unique to Edgefield.

Also not reported in your newspaper is the fact that we realized the
proposed setbacks were too restrictive and that we submitted to the
Planning Commission more workable setbacks, notably reducing setbacks
from water from 2000 feet to 800 feet.  Using these revised setbacks, I
analyzed a 473-acre piece of property purchased in Edgefield County by
Amick Farms in February 2004.  The revised setbacks would allow Amick
Farms to place scores of these factory farms on the property, known as
“Turkey Ridge”.  To this date, no such “farms” have been applied for on
that property.  Could it be that Amick Farms itself doesn’t want such an
operation on their own corporate playground?  Isn’t it a little
hypocritical of them to send lobbyists to push for such a facility in
our backyard when they don’t seem to want to build one in their own

Some day soon this may happen to you.  Then you’ll understand where
we’re coming from.  You’ll either thank us for pushing for stricter
setbacks that prevent a CAFO coming into your neighborhood, or curse the
day when you had a chance to act, but didn’t because you believed the
outside lobbyists instead of your neighbors.  Read up!  Then contact
your Councilman and ask him to support stricter setbacks for CAFOs.

Mark Roberts
Trenton, SC

Editor's Note: Edgefield Daily.com did report on the position of the letter writer and the change in position including the proposed setbacks the writer gave to the Planning Commission.

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