by Mel Griffith
Last month a lady from the Red Hill community wrote a letter to this paper attacking me for upholding the rights of our farmers to operate their farms. The group she is part of also proposed to the County Commission an absurd prive act to ban farming from their community on the pretext that there are significant historic sites there, though they weren't able to come up with much. Since their proposed private act is as dead as George Washington, it is time to move on to more important matters, but since there is so much misinformation in her letter, it may be helpful to try to clear up some of the confusion and contradictions.
She says that she is "a huge proponent of family farms," yet the chicken farm she wants to put out of business is clearly a family farm. How's that for confused thinking? She also seems to be under the impression that farms are either family farms or confined animal feeding operations, commonly called CAFOs. Actually the two terms have nothing to do with each other. A given farm may be both or neither. In fact, most CAFOs are family farms. A family farm is, quite simply, a farm operated by a family. It has nothing to do with the size of the farm, what it produces, or how it produces it. It is still a family farm if the family has found it desirable to form a family corporation to operate it. Having employees does not keep it from being a family farm if it is operated by a family. The opposite of a family farm is a corporate farm, not a CAFO. A CAFO refers to the manner in which livestock are housed. It has nothing to do with the ownership structure of the operation.
The good lady claims that for every new CAFO, ten other farms go out of business. Since she hates chicken farms, one would suppose that she would regard replacing ten farms with only one to be a positive development, but someone who claims to be "a huge proponent of family farms" while trying to put one out of business can't be expected to think logically. Could this farm, with a capacity of 88,000 chickens put ten farms out of business? For that to happen, there would have to be ten farms with an average capacity of 8,800 chickens. Do such farms exist? No. Farms with a single broiler house, of which there are few, would house from 15,000 to 30,000 broilers. Farms smaller than that do not exist and most are larger. Smaller farms went out of business two generations ago, as improvements in technology enabled farmers to care for more chickens. Actually, this farm won't put anybody out of business because the poultry industry is currently expanding to meet consumer demands for the wholesome, nutritious and tasty product that it produces.
The letter also states "there are some basic rights regarding land ownership." Too bad she has no respect for her neighbor's right to earn an honest living operating a farm which will do her no harm whatever. She also complains about "one million pounds of chicken manure piled next to a spring." Since no litter will be piled anywhere, what has that comment got to do with the situation?
She closed her letter by urging people to vote against me. Apparently about a thousand people failed to get the word in time for the primary. We'll see how she fares in August.
The group trying to promote the community as a historic site weren't able to come up with much, in order to be helpful. I would like to call to their attention a significant historical event they missed. The Cleveland Daily Banner of December 9, 1954 reported that a 500 gallon moonshine still, "one of the biggest ever seen in Bradley County" was destroyed about one half mile past the church and 150 yards off Red Hill Road. No doubt they will want to include this significant historical event in future lists of community accomplishments.