Printed letters, October 15, 2013

For generations family farms in Delta County have produced food and fiber with consumers’ best interests in mind. It is disheartening to see a family such as the Hostetlers face such a biased attack after they received the approval of the Delta County Board of Commissioners for their 15,000 hen organic, cage-free, egg-laying operation.

In 2011, the Hostetlers successfully went through the Delta County planning process. For two years, the Hostetlers have met specific conditions set forth by the Delta County Board of Commissioners, which are above and beyond what is required by the EPA for an operation of its size.

Neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment consider the Hostetlers’ operation a Confined Animal Feeding Operation, because it is too small to have an increased potential impact to air, water and land quality. Yet this small organic, one barn, cage-free family operation has been treated like a CAFO, and worse.

Plateau, Inc., an environmental science and engineering consulting firm hired by the Delta County Health Department, determined the air quality surrounding the chicken barn was equal to that typically found in agricultural areas. The Hostetler family lives in two homes near their barn, and work daily within the barn, yet they have reported no health problems.

All three Delta County commissioners voted in favor of the Hostetler operation. Olen Lund was the only commissioner directly involved with Farm Bureau, and he recused himself from all Delta County Farm Bureau Board discussions regarding the Hostetler operation during his tenure as county commissioner. Following Lund’s term as county commissioner, the current Delta County commissioners have also voted in favor of the Hostetler operation.

The District Court has found no proof of bias by any of the county commissioners.

GLENN AUSTIN 

Paonia

Owner of chicken ranch 
ignored advice of judge

In the Oct. 6 article about the Edwin Hostetler’s 15,000 chicken operation on Powell Mesa, outside of Hotchkiss, the reporter omitted some salient points.

Perhaps the most important at this juncture is that Judge Steven Patrick warned Hostetler that he would build and populate the chicken barn at his own risk, that if the judgment went against him (Hostetler), it would be his loss for his own poor decision. Ignoring the judge’s advice, Hostetler began building immediately.

Also the reporter did not mention that two planning committees turned the chicken operation down, previous to the commissioners approving it. He did not report that, in the several meetings before the county commissioners, a large amount of documentation regarding the negative impacts on health, the environment and land values was introduced, orally and in writing.

Nor did he write that the county commissioners ignored the county’s own directives in the master plan about operations that would adversely affect established neighborhoods.

Supporters of the Hostetlers insist that the “right to farm” law applies to his operation. No! Common sense demands that no development that arrives after a farm or ranch operation is in place can shut an agricultural operation down. But Hostetler’s operation is the opposite. He moved his polluting operation into an established neighborhood.

If the same chicken operation is allowed on Redlands Mesa, the same negative impacts will occur. At both Powell and Redlands Mesas, there is a mix of agriculture and residential. No one should have the right to move in and destroy the health and well being of those who have lived or farmed in established neighborhoods for many years.

It has been rumored that opponents to the Hostetlers are wealthy types who recently moved to the area and are against agriculture. In nearly every case, the opponents are natives of Delta County. None of them is rich, and many come from ag backgrounds, as we do.

MARY and CHUCK FARMER

Hotchkiss

 

BLM had no need to cancel 
Rabbit Valley horse event

It is now apparent to me that the government shutdown is a passive-aggressive way for political extremists to try to punish those they see as opposing their views. The cancellation of the competitive trail-riding event scheduled to be at Rabbit Valley Oct. 12 and 13 was completely unnecessary.

Volunteers had already cleaned, mowed and provided many hours of community service in the past few months preparing the area for the event — free maintenance by volunteers. The BLM received $1,000 for an event permit, and after the event BLM would be paid $5 for each participant. There are no bathrooms in the equestrian area, so there would be nothing for a government employee to do.

As a family that was planning to attend the introductory day Sunday, we are all disappointed. Volunteers were scheduled to supervise the riders and assure post-event clean-up. Is there any way moderates and masters of compromise can be elected next time?

CHERLYN CRAWFORD

Grand Junction



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