From: Nancy Banta
The Republic’s March 17 editorial concerning Mr. Gelfius’ CAFO created a false sense of security, thereby providing a disservice to Bartholomew County, specifically the Flat Rock-Hawcreek region. This event was nothing more than a presentation of a state-of-the-art unblemished building. This is not an authentic example of a CAFO/ hog operation.
It is not the building the community needs to be wary of, it is the fully functional CAFO and the accompanying CAFO contaminants.
The bottom line is Gelfius did follow Bartholomew County ordinances, and I want to believe he will be an operator who will follow procedures to the best of his ability. However, many operators do not have the means to operate with the same quality as Gelfius, and the truth is eventually the concrete the manure pit is made of will crack. Therefore, even under optimum circumstances, because of the concrete pit and similar flaws, our community will soon realize the damage to environment, property values and quality of life being generated by these operations.
The Flat Rock-Hawcreek district is home to 80 percent of the CAFOs in our county. Hawcreek is the most impoverished township in Bartholomew County, only $19,000 average yearly income. Because of the poverty we are preyed upon by operators because we lack the means and representation to protect ourselves. As impoverished citizens we are forced to endure the toxic fumes and the constant threat to our water supply. This is the population that will endure the greatest suffering because of The Republic’s March 17 editorial inference that our fears have no merit and our quality of life is not impaired, therefore we are potential victims for future CAFO operators.
I live within a half-mile of a CAFO, condemned to endure ammonia and hydrogen sulfide 230 days per year. Would any resident of Bartholomew County desire to live under these conditions? Because of respiratory ailments, my doctor visits have doubled since the local CAFO has become operational. Is it reasonable that these facilities be permitted to negatively impact the health of an entire community? My community depends upon their wells for their water supply. Should any place of business be allowed to potentially compromise a basic need?
It is my concern that Bartholomew County will be lulled into a false sense of security due to The Republic’s editorial. Community members need to take the initiative to investigate the impact CAFOs have on communities, the environment and the value of the surrounding properties.
If The Republic is in pursuit of a factual article concerning CAFOs, contact an operator with a functioning facility or perhaps interview the Flat Rock-Hawcreek area for an in-depth study relating to quality of life after CAFOs. An unoccupied building is not a threat to communities; it is the toxic waste spewing from a fully functional hog facility/CAFO infiltrating the air, the ground, the waters, thereby impacting quality of life and property value.