Goldman Prize Goes to Anti-CAFO Family Farmer
FarmPlate Apr 20, 2010 News 0 comments
Lynn Henning, a 52-year-old family farmer from Clayton, Michigan, has been recognized as the North American winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work tracking the effects of factory farm pollution in rural Michigan.
The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmentalists and is annually awarded to six recipients, one from each inhabited continent. The prestigious award is often regarded as the Nobel Prize for environmental work.
In the late 1990s, CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) started opening near the Henning Farm in rural Michigan. Twelve ended up within a ten-mile radius of her small farm, where Henning has lived and farmed with her husband and children since the early 1980s.
A CAFO is defined as a farm that has more than 700 cows, 2,500 hogs, or 10,000 poultry. The state requires the farms to keep manure out of state waters. Factory farms can be fined for violations if they do not meet this regulation.
The excrement produced by a medium sized-CAFO in a day can equal the same amount of waste produced by a city of 70,000 people. In Michigan, there are more than 200 CAFOs.
[caption id="attachment_3475" align="alignright" width="315" caption="Lynn Henning conducting water quality tests"][/caption]
Runoff from the untreated waste from the CAFOs, which contains feces, antibiotics, chemicals, bacteria and blood, soon overtook Henning’s corner of rural Michigan, tainting creeks and contaminating the air. Methane, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia are airborne by-products of CAFOs that can irritate the respiratory system.
Henning’s family has experienced side effects from the pollution, including respiratory infection and heart attacks.
Henning began testing the local water herself. She gathered data, took photos and monitored the air with special equipment. Henning hired an aerial photographer to document the spreading of manure.
Henning’s efforts were recognized by the state. One factory farm was closed and others were fined more than $400,000 for 1,077 violations since 2000, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Henning attended the Goldman Environmental Prize award ceremony yesterday in San Francisco. Later this week she will travel to Washington, DC, where she will meet the director of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was also awarded $150,000 in prize money.
Of the attention she’s received since winning the award, Henning told the Detroit Free Press, "I'm a redneck from Michigan. I'm humbled."
Henning’s work is an example of how one person can work toward a change that will help thousands. Her message is an important one:
"Our future depends on healthy food, clean water, clean air and productive soil, and industrial livestock operations put all of that at risk. We must change to a sustainable system that supports farmers who produce food with integrity and pride, that protects our children’s health, and ends the nightmare of concentrated animal feeding operations.”
More about Lynn Henning's work in Michigan
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