Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year. Time to get back to work.

The big ag industry in PA, as elsewhere, is busy trying to make sure there are no roadblocks to the establishment of large, contract "farms" - i.e. "factory farms". These are corporately owned, huge concentrations of animals, where the "farmers" pork on contract for the vertically integrated chicken/hog/dairy corporation. Al Franken has a particularly graphic description of these in "Lies and the Lying Liars..."

Maybe these operations have a place somewhere in some form, but we should have a say locally about what kinds of operations we have in our neighborhoods. If you live in Pennslyvania, please ask Gov. Rendell to NOT SIGN the piece of "stealth legislation" that got passed on the Friday evening of Dec. 19 - HB 1222.

The bill is supposed to be an amendment to title 42 - something about judiciaty and jucidial procedure. 2/3 of the way through there is a section "Adding a section to read #8550.1 Unauthorized enactment of enforcement of local ordinances governing normal agricultural operations" which basically says, if your Twp brings an action against any ag operation, the Twp has to justify that position in court and pay all attorney fees and court costs. This is the same as putting the kybosh on all resistance to these large operations because a Twp will not want to risk the financial consequences. The bill passed and is on the governor's desk. you can call, fax or email him. It will only take a second. (My emailed comments to him are below.)

Independent farmers and consumers are all in this together to try to maintain an iota of control over our food supply and integrity of democratic process in our communities! Thank you!

Toll free phone 1-800-932-0784
Local phone 717-787-2500
Faxes (all 717 area code) 787-4590; 772-8284; 787-8614

My comments:
Dear Governor,
Please do not sign HB 1222 because it contains a section of "stealth legislation" effectively eliminating local township regulation of agricultural operations. This section, inserted into the middle of HB1222, is unrelated to the purported main issue of the bill.

This clause is a rehashed version of proposed legislation sponsored by proponents of "factory farms" who wish to see no public debate or influence over their operations. This same verbiage has already failed twice when standing alone and openly debated in pprevious bills. These "farms" are actually on par with industrial installations both ecologically, socially and economically. Townships and citizens should have the right to a voice, including unrestricted legal recourse, should these installations have, by their view, undue negative impact on local quality of life.

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