PennFuture Praises Rendell Administration's New Factory Farm Package as `First Step' in Protecting Health, Economy and Environment in Pennsylvania

Aug 10, 2004, 01:00 ET from PennFuture

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens for Pennsylvania's
 Future (PennFuture) today praised Governor Rendell's newly announced factory
 farm package, the Governor's Plan for the Protection of Agriculture,
 Communities, and the Rural Environment (ACRE), as a first step in protecting
 Pennsylvanians' health, economy and environment.  This plan was developed as a
 result of the Governor's New Year's Eve veto of legislation proposed by
 agribusiness that attempted to strip local governments of their rights to
 protect citizens from the pollution caused by factory farms.
     "This new initiative is an improvement over existing policies in
 protecting our citizens from factory farm pollution," said Jan Jarrett,
 director of outreach for PennFuture.  "But it isn't perfect.  We need to
 continue to make improvements to close loopholes and to make the policy
 realistically meet the demands factory farms place on Pennsylvania's streams,
 ground water and rural communities."
     A centerpiece of the proposal is the creation of a review board charged
 with mediating conflicts between large-scale livestock operations and local
 government ordinances.  "The creation of this review board is preferable to
 the `take it or leave it' approach the legislature tried to impose last year,"
 said Jarrett.  "As long as the board includes representatives from local
 governments and the decisions of the review board can be appealed without
 limitation, we support the concept.  PennFuture will be monitoring the
 performance of this board, however, to ensure that it is fair to local
 governments and their residents.
     "We are also encouraged by the proposal's emphasis on increasing
 enforcement of factory farms," Jarrett continued.  "Our research and reviews
 have found that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had fallen
 far short in serious oversight and enforcement efforts to guarantee that
 factory farms are complying with existing environmental protection laws."
     A new proposal requiring factory farms to control odors from the barns is
 welcome and important, but incomplete.  "Rural Pennsylvanians' complaints
 skyrocket not just from barn smells, but when manure is spread on fields.
 There are a number of practices that could minimize odor from manure disposal,
 and we believe odors from spreading should also be addressed," said Jarrett.
     The issue of spreading manure on fields is an area that needs further
 review, as PennFuture's recent report, "A Barrel Full of Holes: A Case Study
 of Pennsylvania Regulations on High Density Livestock Farm Pollution," showed.
 "We must not only track individual farm's disposal of animal sewage, but we
 have to know how much total manure is being spread within the watershed as a
 whole.  Until we know the extent of the problem area-wide, we will be unable
 to guarantee the safety of our ground water and streams."
     One element of the proposal that PennFuture finds inadequate is the call
 for more research on the use of antibiotics at factory farms to promote
 growth.  The practice is creating strains of super germs that cannot be
 successfully treated by using these antibiotics when humans need them.  "There
 has been enough research," said Jarrett.  "It's time to ban the use of
 antibiotics in healthy animals at factory farms."
     In a related manner, PennFuture will also be calling for significant
 changes to the proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation regulations and
 the Nutrient Management Program regulations, which have been released for
 public comment.  The organization believes that these proposed changes should
 be strengthened to protect public health, the environment and the economy.

SOURCE PennFuture