The ‘rest of the story’

It is laudable that Steve Fry (letter, Feb. 19) would visit Uproot’s commercial CAFO on Siskiyou and try to help the owners who are attempting to farm in the Rogue Valley. I agree with his sentiments generally.

In an ideal world, Uproot’s owners’ “heart and spirit” might eventually overcome “problems” and “challenges” to successfully establish a business to slaughter hundreds of hogs and thousands of chickens on a steep hill just above a communal irrigation ditch. Unfortunately, the obstacles they face are ones inherent in the site selection for their business:

The national hog farmer profession states that the most important factor for success for this type of operation is proper site selection. “Good site selection should consider surrounding topography. Relatively level terrain, no obstacles, and areas with moderate to high wind velocity promote good odor dispersion. Confined valleys where sensitive sites are downslope of the facility are much more vulnerable.”

Furthermore, Oregon law stipulates that “new confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) should not be located where prevailing winds are likely to carry odors into residential or recreational areas.” Uproot’s site is in a confined valley known to be subject to inversions and upslope of small farms, organic gardens, a winery and a guest horse ranch.

Steve noted “open trenches and lots of mud.” Did he also observe the manure pile, as did the DEQ official who described a “Composite pig and chicken manure compost pile (15 by 15 by 4) with no cover which is 150 feet upslope of TID canal No exclusion fence in place ground bare”? DEQ notes that the operation has been put “on a hillside and in a burn scar.”

Oregon Revised Statute 468B.025 specifies that a person may not “Cause pollution of any waters of the state or cause to be placed any wastes in a location where such wastes are likely to escape or be carried into the waters of the state by any means.” The owners also chose to ignore DEQ’s advice to enlist the aid of experts in the remediation of the excavated, clearcut hillside where they bulldozed terraces into the landscape. They have never contacted the firm to which the DEQ referred them.

Uproot owners have the right to farm, but they do not have the right to do harm.

Jack and Suzanne Witucki