There's another letter in the New Ulm Journal about well-testing, this one from Mark Berle, a corn and bean farmer who grows crops in nearby Nicollet and Sibley Counties.
Berle suggests that "political farm organizations should quit playing defense on water quality issues and put that energy toward offensive, proactive clean water solutions."
Here's Berle's letter, Well water testing:
I thought everyone would support free well water testing, especially in Brown County where sound science has shown and continues to reveal areas where groundwater aquifers are rapidly recharged and at high risk of contamination. Testing is even more important due to the strong presence of agricultural production practices that could possibly cause elevated nitrate levels in the water.
Allowing state funded testing for free is a democratic way of saying: Taxpayers are willing to pay a very small amount of money to prevent a potentially large loss of health to its citizens. We should want to give an incentive to those who deserve and need to know what is in their water.
Individuals and political organizations that are on the “anti-regulation” bandwagon would likely change their views if and when they or their families are hurt or killed by an action that could have been prevented through regulation. The local farm coops fully understand this concept. They put safety first and have employment positions such as Safety Director because life and good health is precious. They believe that rules and regulations regarding safety and health are more important than profit. A recent coop newsletter had the quote: “Every OSHA rule or regulation is written in someone’s blood.” Perhaps political farm organizations should quit playing defense on water quality issues and put that energy toward offensive, proactive clean water solutions. Complex issues such as this are better understood and problems more quickly resolved via public/private partnerships where government agencies work with private entities such as the rural well owners, area farmers, private agronomists and local farm supply firms. It upsets me to thing that the Brown County Commissioners were swayed by political pressure to reject a program that would reveal what is in our water, and instead, perhaps, leave us with fear of what we don’t know is in our water.
If someone gives you a free smoke detector, thank them and mount it in your kitchen. Don’t be afraid that it may occasionally go off because the grease in your pan may have become too hot.
Nice analogy. To extend it: perhaps there are those in Brown County who are just plain comfortable not installing batteries in their smoke detectors.
Earlier on this issue
Bluestem first posted about the Brown County well testing revolt on December 20 in Nitrates: Brown Co turns down MDA well testing aid because somebody might blame farmers. Another post about this issue: An enemy of the people; or, agriculture as usual: Strib editorial dings Brown Co commissioners.
We explored Brown County Farm Bureau activist Harley Vogel's letter to the New Ulm Journal in our post, Blame bison for dirty water, not farmers, Farm Bureau Honorary Life Member tells NUJournal. That letter was probed in Brown County: MN Well Owners Organization Veep thinks well testing opponents misinformed.
Meme: The Brown County Board of Commissioners.
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