On Monday, July 10, JFAN presented a petition signed by 1328 county residents calling for a CAFO “moratorium resolution” to Supervisors Dick Reed, Lee Dimmitt and Dee Sandquist during the public comment period of the supervisors' board meeting. We also asked that they put a thoughtful consideration of the resolution on the next meeting’s agenda.
Supervisors Dick Reed and Lee Dimmitt refused to do so.
A Report of What Took Place at the July 10 Supervisor Meeting
JFAN used the public comment period for this presentation since we were denied an opportunity to be included on the agenda. Fifteen people were present to lend support and to voice their comments.
When presenting the petition, JFAN Executive Director Diane Rosenberg said, “It would seem to me that with this number of people asking for a resolution, it would be incumbent on this board of supervisors to at least .... put [the resolution] on the agenda, have a discussion and thoughtfully consider it, rather than say we don’t want to address this. It would be respectful to all the people asking you.”
Other comments followed. “The question is today whether our public officials in Jefferson County will respect the right to representation of more than 1200 concerned constituents – or give priority to the economic interest of less than 100 CAFO operators that might possibly be affected by a moratorium,” said Dr. John Ikerd.
The supervisors commented that the resolution was divisive, that as supervisors they couldn’t do anything, and the DNR has rules to follow. Reed recommended we lobby at the State House.
One supporter replied, “I heard you say this wasn’t our place. But this is our place. We’re the people of the county. We’re not trying to split everyone. I think if everyone knew about [the petition] we just might get a majority or more of people who don’t want this pollution in the air.”
At one point Reed said the supervisors had already decided not to move forward with a moratorium petition at the March 27 meeting when an initial discussion of the resolution took place. Sandquist had placed the discussion on the agenda at JFAN’s request, and approximately 75 people attended the meeting.
But Rosenberg clarified his comment, reminding him that Reed said the board would put it back on the agenda after they had time to consider the comments. “That never happened, and that’s why we’re here,” Rosenberg said. “By not putting it on the agenda, you’re avoiding making a decision whether you want to publicly come out and say [if you support the moratorium or not.]”
Dimmitt said that wasn’t true, that he and Reed said they wouldn’t support a resolution during the previous supervisor meeting. This was in response to JFAN’s request during the public comment period on June 26 that they add the petition presentation to an upcoming meeting agenda.
“Did you take a vote on it? Is it in the minutes?” asked Dr. Ikerd. When Dimmitt said no, Dr. Ikerd and others replied, “Well then it didn’t happen.”
“And it’s not going to,” Dimmitt replied.
A woman attending the supervisors meeting with family members working in the livestock industry objected to the term moratorium.
“All of you here are asking for this whole business to be stopped. This is an industry that is supporting families and you’re asking it to be shut down until you can come up with a solution.”
Many people responded that this was a mistaken understanding of the moratorium, and one supporter cleared up the misperception with her remark,
“I and those working with JFAN do not want to stop your family business. That is not true. What we want to do is prevent any more CAFOs from being built. We want to support all the businesses in the community and we want to support working together to find all the solutions to the existing pollution caused by all the existing CAFOs. We just want to clean up the water and clean up the air.”
Reed said, “We get 100% what you’re asking. It’s not going to stop anything in Jefferson County, but you want us to put it on the agenda. We are not. All we’re going to do is make some people happy that we are or not going to sign a resolution. That’s all it amounts to.”
In the final comment that was allowed, one supporter said, “The point of even taking a vote and being on the record ... is exactly the kind of political pressure, if you will, or political statement that starts the process of things changing. I would suggest it would be an act of political courage and political appropriateness to put it on the agenda and take an up and down vote.”
Supervisor Reed allowed comments for about 25 minutes but then cut it off. At least one supporter complained to JFAN that she didn’t have a chance to make her comment.
JFAN is disappointed with the response and decision of Supervisors Dick Reed and Lee Dimmitt. It’s our conviction that their refusal to officially consider the resolution in the face of over 1300 petition signatories, nearly 300 postcards, and the numerous emails, calls, one-on-one meetings, and letters to the editor by county residents is a denial of democratic representation.
The supervisors were always within their right to vote against a resolution. That they refused to put a formal discussion on the agenda and take a vote is perhaps an even bigger disappointment in the exercise of the democratic process.
We do want to express our appreciation for Supervisor Dee Sandquist’s willingness to place our original request on the agenda in March.
The resolution was not intended to be a divisive issue. As Dr. John Ikerd said in his letter to the editor published in last week’s Fairfield Ledger, “CAFOs are the source of the noise and animosity, not the concerned citizens.”
We want to deeply thank all of you for all your efforts. They were not wasted. We may not have gotten a resolution passed in Jefferson County, but we certainly kept the opposition to infringing CAFOs in the public eye, and importantly, educated the county – and beyond - on the need for a statewide CAFO moratorium. That has much value in and of itself.
We will not revisit the resolution unless the Jefferson County board of supervisors has a change in leadership in 2018. It’s time to move on.
JFAN will continue to work to promote a statewide CAFO moratorium. And we will continue our ongoing efforts to protect Jefferson County from new infringing CAFOs. We welcome and deeply appreciate all your efforts to help us realize that goal.