I am neither a vegetarian nor an animal activist. I am a middle-aged, hard–working family girl who lives in a rural part of Berwick with my husband Jeff. We have worked hard for and enjoy taking care of our property and home. Nothing makes us happier than to have our children and grandchildren home with us, celebrating somebody’s birthday or enjoying a “just because” BBQ on our back deck. We also respect and enjoy the many species of wildlife that pass our way, from bear to birds. Why is that important? Well, I could be you or somebody you know and love.
Now for the reason I address you, and I pray you hear, understand, and possibly help me. Recently a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) was built approximately 3 miles from my home. This operation houses close to 5,000 swine (pig farm). This farm is known as Will-O-Bett Farm and is located just across a field from the Berwick High School, Middle School, and Salem Elementary School (139 Bombay Lane, Paul DiAugustine). A second farm of the same is being proposed approximately 2.5 miles away from Will-O-Bett’s, on Kiliti Road, owned by David Kiliti and his wife Marilee, which is less than a half-mile from where I live. Poor me? Right, read on.
Now that means between these two facilities, 45.5 million gallons of pig manure composed of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, ammonia, pathogens (bacteria), feed additives like antibiotics and growth hormones, salts, organic matter, and solids is generated each year and needs to be disposed of. Now here is the part that I didn’t understand until just recently. These farms “lease” land from local farms in YOUR neighborhoods to spread this toxic waste –twice a year! Then your local farmer plants in the same field. So even if you don’t live by a pig farm or other type of CAFO, but you do live within several miles or adjacent to other farm land, YOU WILL BE AFFECTED.
This means the Berwick Area School District, with hundreds of children, and surrounding communities will be dealing with respiratory and other illnesses, neurological and mood problems, odor pollution, and poor water quality and even MRSA. Geisinger Medical Center and Penn State have done a study showing communities around CAFOs have a much higher instance of MRSA.
Even wildlife will be affected as deer and other animals graze these farm lands. Would you want to consume venison laced with the above-mentioned? Hunters beware! The Will-O-Bett Farm hasn’t dumped yet, but it’s going to be soon. I wonder where it’s going to go; in Nescopeck perhaps, or on the fields next to our schools. Too soon we will know that answer.
So what can you do to help? First and foremost, ask your neighborhood and local farmers to not allow these CAFOs to use their precious farmlands as dumping grounds because this waste is NOT good for their soil and is loaded with ground and air toxins. Therefore, if there is no place for these CAFOs to dump, then they CANNOT operate, hence shutting down operations or keeping them from building here in the first place.