Wendell Berry will be in Bloomington Nov. 9-11 to read from his work and participate in a discussion with Wes Jackson and Scott Russell Sanders as part of the Patten Lecture series. Berry spoke with Thomas P. Healy from his northern Kentucky farm prior to the November elections.
TPH: You're going to be giving the Patten Lecture in Bloomington, and I wanted to see if you'd given any thought to what you'd be discussing in that lecture.
WB: To tell you the truth, I haven't. There are a number of possibilities, I'm not going to write a lecture, I've already told them that, and I may be reading a piece of fiction. I just don't know.
Editor's note: The Bloomington Alternative videotaped CAFO fighter Rick Dove's "Crimes Against Nature" presentation at the Indiana CAFO Watch Conference and posted it in seven short segments on the Alternative Videos page. Links to each segment, with extended excerpts from them, are published below.
MUNCIE -- Watching Rick Dove's multimedia presentation "Crimes Against Nature" conjured up memories of Indiana's feisty old Republican Gordon Durnill, a former GOP state party chair who wrote the 1995 book The Making of a Conservative Environmentalist. In addition to calling for the jailing of corporate executives who knowingly poison the environment with harmful toxins, Durnil debunked the environmentalist caricatures that persist in the American media today. Almost without exception, he said, environmentalists are environmental victims.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is responsible for the massive pain and suffering that rural Indiana citizens have suffered while living near concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), according to a former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.
"Our current administration has kind of set the table for Indiana being a battlefront for this whole confrontation between this method of farming and the people who want to enjoy their community," said Indianapolis attorney Richard D. Hailey. "He made it a part of the overall economic development plan for the state of Indiana. ... There's almost been in invitation to turn Indiana into the capital of concentrated animal farming operations."
Hailey represents a dozen Indiana citizens in lawsuits against CAFO operators. And a few weeks after other members of his legal team won an $11 million jury verdict in Jackson County, Mo., Hailey said he believes the public can use the courts to do what the rest of state government has thus far refused to do.
Editor's note: On March 20, Bloomington Alternative editor Steven Higgs gave speeches in Indianapolis to the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations and the Alliance for Democracy about the state of American democracy and his new book, Twenty Years of Crimes Against Democracy. What follows is a transcript of his prepared remarks.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Thank you for inviting me here today. It's a pleasure to share some of my thoughts with you about the state of our democracy, which, it seems to me, just about every one of you understands is just about dead.
Now, I teach journalism down at IU-Bloomington, and I tell my reporting students to avoid making "Big Statements," like "just about every one of you" and "just about dead," unless they can back them up.
Well, I was invited here today to present the best defense I can muster for my use of such superlatives in this context -- namely the I-69/NAFTA Highway, or the "$3 Billion Boondoggle."
Indiana CAFO Watch
Editor's note: Rural Indiana citizens sent the following letter to Gov. Mitch Daniels imploring him to act on threats posed to human health, the environment and state finances from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
March 11, 2010
Events of the past nine months have triggered this letter. Over the past year many of the Confined Feeding Operations and Confined Animal Feeding Operations have asked for a voidance from their permits. They have either fallen below the number of animals or have gone out of business. How many of these will be closed without proper environmental procedures by the owners?
Editor's Note: The following policy statement on concentrated animal feeding operations in Indiana was prepared and signed by a group of concerned citizens and organizations.
We support policies and practices that hold industrial-scale livestock operations accountable for off-site impacts to air, land and water and protecting the health and safety of workers, neighbors and consumers.
Rather than raking through the stacks at IDEM, I'm expanding my CSO or combined sewer overflow education by raking through Alternative editor Steven Higgs' file cabinet. Hopefully, my summarization of an article Steve wrote for IDEM in 2000 about the E. coli riddled Little Lick Creek in Hartford City (our next destination) will better prepare me, and others, for what to expect.
Reading the article, I learned something new right away. Not all strains of E. coli, a bacteria living in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, produce the same results. One of the more threatening strains, O157:H7, causes the bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps often associated with an E. coli infection. This strain and others are found in Little Lick Creek.
Three variables, according to the article, account for this strain in Little Lick: runoff from nearby agribusinesses, failing septic systems and, not surprisingly, untreated waste from CSOs.
When we decided to launch the "Indiana Environment Revisited" (IER) project, I knew it would be an emotional journey. As an Indiana-based environmental journalist for the past 27 years, I'm intimately familiar with the anger and frustration that comes from being victimized by our state's extreme brand of environmental neglect.
I expected to encounter a long list of fevered citizens, like Rex Jones from Henry County, who would tell us, "My honest opinion of IDEM? ... They are a big joke." I mean, I couldn't disagree with him or any of the other rural Hoosiers we've interviewed in the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) series, all of whom echoed Jones's sentiment.
But because I spent four years working inside IDEM with the Media and Communications Services team, getting to know and, on more than a few occasions, befriending the men and women who are legislatively charged with protecting Indiana citizens from air, water and land pollution, I knew I was venturing onto sensitive new terrain.
In response to a question from The Bloomington Alternative about CAFO inspection, IDEM spokeswoman Amy Hartsock provided the following explanation.
The first CAFO supporter is in.
The e-mail came on a Monday. No name was attached, just an address and the initials DP. "We all love our technology," DP wrote, "TV's, Computers, I-pod's. I don't believe consumers will pay for a 1975 production system."
I'd like to start by saying I don't own an iPod.
All joking aside, although I really don't own an iPod, I'd like to make it clearer where I stand on CAFOs, considering I knew little about them until about a month-and-a-half ago. Based on the information I've learned in that time, the call here is not to eradicate factory farms, as CAFO’s are also called, though in a perfect world, we'd give farming back to the farmers.
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Read more 'Indiana Environment Revisited'