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Please remember SRAP in your year end giving

please-remember-srap-2

December 2016

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your support of the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) over the last year. Together, we are growing a movement in rural communities across America that is working to stop the unfettered development of new factory farms and to hold existing operations accountable for the widespread pollution they create.

Factory farms are poisoning our water, fouling our air, abusing animals, and destroying the fabric of America’s rural communities. Together, with thousands of citizens across our country, we are standing up to this exploitative industry.

It’s no secret that, as a nation, we are entering into some very uncertain times. At SRAP, we are still working to understand how the newly elected president and the incoming administration’s policies will influence our work in the field.   We wish the news were rosy, but to be completely candid, we are extremely concerned about what the next four years will bring to our work to stop the growth of the factory farming industry in our rural communities.

The list of representatives on President-elect Trump’s agriculture transition team includes some of the most egregious pork industry polluters, mega-dairy CEOs, and agribusiness proponents of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This, coupled with a shortlist of troubling cabinet picks for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has us increasingly concerned that there will be a full-court push to broaden the scope of factory farm growth in the United States.  

During this time of uncertainty, there is one thing that we can guarantee: SRAP will continue to work tirelessly to support rural residents and family farmers as they work to protect themselves from factory farms.  

We currently have over twenty team members who are actively engaged in 170 community-driven factory farm fights in over 30 states.   Between our community organizers and our technical experts, we have put together a team of people unlike any other in the country and we are poised to continue to assist rural communities fighting the influx of factory farms at the local level.

Over the last year we have been incredibly busy. In addition to our regular work to support communities threatened by factory farms, this year we launched the Factory Farm Summit: Demanding Accountability in Animal Agriculture. This two-day event brought over 200 farmers and rural residents together from across the country in Green Bay, Wisconsin to workshop with leading experts in an attempt to share stories of how to hold factory farms accountable. The event was an overwhelming success and, if funding permits, we would like to hold a similar event next year on the Eastern Shore.

We continue to train communities on how to identify, track, and report pollution from factory farms. Our Water Rangers program got off the ground in a big way in 2016 and we have made great strides. We conducted upwards of 20 community trainings and we have increased our network of citizens trained in water pollution monitoring to 359.   As a result, at least 32 citizen complaints were filed with regulatory agencies this year, resulting in corrective actions brought against eight factory farms due to citizen monitoring.

Citizens are standing up all across the country to say enough is enough  and to call for a halt of new factory farming operations in our rural communities.

In 2016, it has been heartening to see the number of rural citizens who have stood up and are now leaders in their local communities helping others to organize against new factory farms. This past April we welcomed several of these leaders to an SRAP training in Kansas City to dig in with us for two days to learn new and valuable skills that they could take back and teach other members of their community. Over the course of the training, these leaders, along with the SRAP team, gained and sharpened new media skills, learned about cutting-edge research on factory farm manure application pollution, and dug into the nuts and bolts of factory farm waste management plans, so that they could return to their communities with even stronger advocacy skills and share the training and information they received with their neighbors.

There have been a number of victories to report for 2016 due to the amazing work of the dedicated community leaders and local advocacy groups in rural areas across the country that we work with. Our work contributed to approximately 4,000 dairy cows and 147,500 hogs not being subjected to new confinements in South Dakota, in addition to the establishment of more restrictive setback restrictions in Grundy County. In Pennsylvania, with an all-star team of organizational partners, we helped usher the enactment of a landmark local ordinance to protect the community against the public health and environmental impacts from factory farms, which led to the prevention of a factory farm expansion of two million chickens. In Minnesota, we worked with local partners to stop 2,500 sows from experiencing the unnecessary and cruel confinement of gestation crates. In addition, we contributed to community organizing efforts that led to the rejection of a proposal to build a 5,000-head hog operation by government officials in Saratoga County, Iowa.   And in Fulton County, Illinois, we have supported community efforts that have been successful to date in stopping the siting of a factory farm that is slated to house approximately 20,900 hogs near an important tourist area.

There was a big win in Mason City, Iowa where we worked to organize local area residents with an impressive list of coalition partners to stop the siting of a massive pork processing facility proposed by Prestage Foods that was looking to slaughter 20,000 hogs per day. And in Green County, Wisconsin we worked with a landowner living adjacent to a confinement operation to support him as he successfully petitioned the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to lower his property tax assessment by 60 percent.   We hope his case will serve as an example for other property owners who need financial relief from having a new factory farm locate nearby.  

We have been honored to work with the local group, Save Tonapah Oppose Poultry Plant (STOPP), in Tonapah, Arizona to organize against a company that is building what will ultimately be an 8-million bird egg-laying operation in their town. Their persistence has recently resulted in a huge victory, as one member represented himself in a Clean Air Act permitting appeal AND WON! As a result of this win, it is plausible that the facility could be directed to discontinue operations until the air pollution it is producing is properly controlled and regulated.

While we’ve had some significant victories this year, 2017 will surely be a year of continued threats to our rural communities from an exploitative industry looking to export the wealth of rural America to line the pockets of fat-cat Wall Street executives and multinational corporations.

This next year we anticipate factory farm industry expansion to continue at an unprecedented rate.   However, we are taking measures to be poised and ready when new calls for help come in.   In addition to having added three new anti-factory farm advocacy experts to our team, we are working to finalize some great tools for communities in crisis. Early next year, with the help of our friends at the Lexicon of Sustainability, we are putting together a wonderful toolkit to help communities organize. We are also working with Midwest Environmental Advocates in Wisconsin to produce comprehensive state-by-state guides for all 50 states to help communities, attorneys, and state advocacy groups navigate the complex and often confusing state and federal regulatory systems for factory farms that can vary significantly from state to state.

In an effort to continue to build power in the states we work in, we are working to connect individual impacted communities through statewide coalitions. Our vision is to then connect statewide coalitions into a national network of impacted communities to build power for change.

We have been an integral part in the ongoing work to organize, build, and strengthen grassroots networks of impacted citizens and like-minded organizations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. In 2017, we will be working to do the same in other states where we are seeing the industry push for expanding the number of new factory farms.

We are also excited to be working with two award-winning filmmakers at the Chicago-based Hour Glass Films, as they begin the hard work of documenting the impact that factory farms are having on people living in rural communities and the stories of local heroes that are fighting back. The film, Right to Harm, will be produced over the course of the next year with the goal of being released on the big screen in 2018.

At SRAP we have become experts at doing more with less. However, we rely on the financial contributions from our supporters to continue helping communities harmed or threatened by factory farms.

The majority of the donations that we receive from individuals go directly to help cover our costs to travel to communities to work hand-in-hand with citizens directly impacted by factory farms. We believe that there is no substitute for old-fashioned, face-to-face kitchen table organizing and that is why we put the majority of our budget toward sending our organizers and technical experts to assist residents in their impacted communities free of charge.

As we come into the end of 2016 and prepare for the next year, we are anticipating requests for help to be on the increase and are expecting to have even more expenses. With your help in supporting SRAP, we can ensure that the services we provide to our existing rural community partners can remain uninterrupted, even as the growing demand of our time and resources increase.

We are able to assist rural residents across the country free of charge because people like you understand the importance of our work and support our organization. You recognize that rural communities need organizations like SRAP, who are on the front lines working against the industrial animal agriculture machine.

By making a tax-deductible donation to SRAP, you are making a statement that good food doesn’t have to come at the expense of our air, water, welfare of farm animals, or rural quality of life. Together we can make an enduring difference in our food system by fighting factory farms and connecting communities with viable agricultural alternatives that respect the animals, the environment, and provide family farmers with an honorable living. Will you consider making a donation today?

Thank you for being on our team and thank you for your support.

In solidarity,

Kendra Kimbirauskas, Chief Executive Officer & Danielle Diamond, Executive Director

    And the whole SRAP Team!

P.S. By donating $50.00, $200.00, or whatever you can afford, you are helping make a difference in communities across rural America that are threatened by factory farms.

P.P.S. Don’t forget that any donation to SRAP is tax-deductible for the 2016 tax year if it is received before December 31, 2016. You can donate online at: www.sraproject.org