January 2017: SRAP News From The Field

Dust from CAFO


We’re Standing With You

The Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (SRAP) team has entered the New Year with a renewed commitment to support rural communities across the country working to protect themselves from the damages caused by factory farms.  

As we await the pending inauguration of the next U.S. president, the SRAP team and our allies are preparing for a long uphill battle. While we wish the transition to a new administration would bring policies to rejuvenate rural America, safeguard public health, and protect our water, air, and other natural resources, policy experts expect that the new pro-agribusiness administration will ultimately roll back regulatory protections and erode clean air and water laws, making it more difficult to hold factory farms accountable, and paving the way for further industrialization of animal agriculture in the U.S.  

We are also concerned about a number of troubling cabinet and top regulatory appointees such as Scott Pruitt, who was chosen to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt consistently fought to weaken EPA’s oversight, rolling back protections on public health and the environment, and famously joined a group of state attorneys generals in filing a legal brief supporting a Farm Bureau lawsuit to block a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay created by the EPA, six states, and the District of Columbia.

With leaders like this, we know we can’t count on the new administration to protect rural communities from the devastating public health, environmental, and socioeconomic impacts of factory farms. That’s why our team plans to double down on our efforts to support those facing industrial livestock facilities in the coming years.  

As leading advocates and organizers, SRAP team members will continue to provide free, professional assistance to community groups across the country, and are committed to building a network of allies to reject pro-factory farm policies and demand protections that safeguard our health, environment, and rural areas.

In solidarity,

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


In the Spotlight: Communities Standing Up, Fighting Back

In the small town of Tonapah, Arizona a battle has been brewing and there is no sign that the community members are backing down.

Tonapah is a small unincorporated town about an hour-and-a-half from Phoenix in Maricopa County. The people who live there have come to love the peace of the place – a small town on the edge of Saddle Mountain that was a destination for many who loved the outdoors and came for the healing waters of the local hotsprings.

The peace and serenity of Tonapah has been transformed into a town divided by laying hens – eight million of them. In 2013, Hickman Family Farms purchased land in the town with the intent of building a massive egg-laying operation. Don’t be fooled by the name; Hickman Family Farms is no traditional family farm. Instead it is an egg factory that has several egg-laying operations in Arizona, Colorado, and California.

While the facility continues to be under construction in Tonapah, most of the factory is operational with birds occupying the houses.  Since Hickman began operating in Tonapah,  the residents have complained of burning eyes, scratchy throats, and a increase in breathing troubles, not to mention having lost their ability to enjoy their property and the outdoors because of odor and flies. Despite the the massive amount of pollutants emitted by the Hickman operation,  the County Air Pollution Control Department  refused to permit the operation in order to require the facility to mitigate its pollution on the surrounding areas.

That didn’t sit well with resident Dan Blackson, who represented himself pro se (without a lawyer) to challenge the Maricopa County Air Permitting Department’s decision before the Air Pollution Hearing Board. Mr. Blackson was successful in his appeal and you can read more about his efforts here.

The citizens involved in the group Save Tonapah Oppose Poultry Plant (STOPP)  still have a long road ahead, but we are as proud as ever to stand with this community for clean air and public health in Tonapah.


New Additions to the SRAP Team

We are excited to announce new members to the SRAP Team!

This past fall we welcomed Craig Watts and Mary Dougherty to our team, and are excited to bring former part-time team members Tina Empey and Katie Engelman to full time to support the work of our organizers. SRAP’s Board is thrilled to welcome Monica Richardson Brooks and Dr. Don Stull.  

Craig Watts is a former contract chicken grower for poultry giant Perdue. He made headlines when he teamed up with Compassion in World Farming USA to expose animal cruelty issues rampant throughout the company’s operations. Craig has been outspoken about the power of giant meat companies, giving testimony on Capitol Hill and sharing his story on the Farm Aid stage with musicians Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson. Craig’s story also appeared in the New York Times and on Tonight with John Oliver. Craig was named Whistleblower Insider’s 2015 Whistleblower of the Year. 

Mary Dougherty lives in Bayfield, Wisconsin with her husband Ted, and their five children. Mary is a chef, writer, and photographer and in 2013 she became a community organizer when an industrial hog operation threatened her community. Living on the shores of Lake Superior, Mary worked with community members and First Nation members to lead the opposition against the corporate hog farm. She co-founded the group Farms Not Factories, which is a citizen network that believes environmental stewardship, civic engagement, natural resource conservation, local control, and sustainable agriculture are inherently connected and vital to building strong, prosperous rural communities.  

Tina Empey grew up in Utah and though she is not a farmer herself, she comes from a long line of farmers and is an animal lover at heart. While earning her degree from Weber State University, she became involved with Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW), where she conducted water monitoring training with people living in rural communities near CAFOs.

Katie Engelman grew up in a small rural Illinois town. She attended college in Northern Wisconsin where she majored in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Community Development. She has spent many hours volunteering and learning on small-scale family farms throughout the Midwest. In 2013, Katie became an AmeriCorps VISTA service member, which brought her to Oregon to work with a regional food bank.

Monica Richardson Brooks co-founded the citizens’ group Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs and has been a community leader in helping to organize against the expansion of mega-poultry complexes on the Eastern Shore.  

Dr.  Don Stull is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Kansas, where he taught from 1975 to 2015. Don holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a master’s in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. For the past three decades his research and writing have focused on the meat and poultry industry in North America; rural industrialization and rapid-growth communities; industrial agriculture’s impact on farmers, processing workers, and rural communities; and food.

You can read more about our board and staff by visiting our website here.  

Upcoming Events:

January 24, 2017 Lincoln Delaware:  Community slideshow on Air and Water Pollution Concerns on Slaughter Creek as the  Creek is an impaired tributary which flows to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The event will be held at Slaughter Neck Community Center located at 22942 Slaughter Neck Rd. Lincoln, DE 19960. Contact Maria Payan at  mariap@sraproject.org for more information.

January 31, 2017 Portland, Oregon: Sneak Preview of the Film Sustainable at Friends of Family Farmers’  InFARMation. More information  here.  

February 1, 2017: New York City: Under Contract Film Premier-Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. New York, NY 10003 For more information visit RAFI USA’s web page here.

February 1, 2017: Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environment Control Public Hearing on Blessings Blends  to be held at Milford High School located at 1019 N. Walnut St. Milford, DE 1996. For more information contact Maria Payan at  mariap@sraproject.org

February 4, 2017: Illinois Citizens Clean Air and Water Annual Meeting at the Countryside Family Diner, which is located at 948 South Main Lewiston, IL 61542. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. For more information, email Karen Hudson at karenh@sraproject.org

April 22, 2017: Indianapois: Indiana CAFO Watch will be having a booth at Earth Day Indiana. You are invited to stop by and say hello. For more information contact Barbara Cox at  barbarasha1@msn.com