Monday, May 21, 2012

Do you eat? Pay taxes? Watch this video!

Animal factory manure flowing into a Michigan waterway.
If you're like most people, you probably don't know much about the Farm Bill or just think it's an abstract piece of legislation that has something to with farmers but not much to do with you. In reality, it's a vital (and complex) bill that has a huge impact on our daily lives because it determines what kind of food we think is important enough to spend large amounts of taxpayer money on -- and that comes down to whether we support polluting animal factories or sustainable farmers.  

Right now, as it has for years, the bill heavily favors the kind of practices and needs of animal factories and gives short shrift to the kind of agriculture that works in harmony with nature and produces healthy, safe food for our families. 

For a quick lesson in why the Farm Bill should matter to you, check out this short video from Watershed Media, the folks who brought you the book CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories. 

The Farm Bill comes up every five years, and Farm Bill 2012 is being hammered out right now, so it's a good time to let your legislators know what kind of food and farmers you want the bill to support.  To learn what you can do to make a difference, visit 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Last Call at the Oasis Opens Nationwide

Last Call at the Oasis, a new documentary about the global water crisis that features the Sierra Club Michigan's own Lynn Henning, opened nationwide last weekend to great reviews.  Lynn's work documenting animal factory pollution is spotlighted in the film, right alongside renowned environmental activist Erin Brockovich.

Last Call at the Oasis will be coming to Michigan soon. Watch this space for details.  In the meantime, check out this trailer for the movie.

And here's a sampling of reviews from around the country:

LA Times: 'Last Call at the Oasis' smartly sounds alarm on water 

New York Times: When There Really is not a Drop to Drink  

NPRFor Americans' Water, It's Last Call at the Oasis

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Welcome to the Farms Without Harm Forum!

Thanks for visiting this forum for people who want to do something about the polluting animal factories in Michigan!  Hosted by the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, this blog's purpose is to connect you with like-minded folks so you can share experiences and ideas, get the latest news on this issue, and help us build a movement to increase the pressure on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Michigan while growing the support for sustainable, small farmers around the state. 

In the coming months, you’ll hear about a new campaign involving diverse groups that address various aspects of the animal factory issue.  We're building a coalition to apply real pressure to animal factories from many sides.

Michigan has more than 230 animal factories lurking off the radar in rural areas. Out of sight, out of mind, maybe, but they have a real, negative impact on our daily lives, whether or not we get our food from small, sustainable farms. These livestock warehouses generate millions of gallons of manure annually, poisoning our water and air while sucking the life out of local economies. Even when they violate federal and state regulations, CAFOs get rewarded with the lion’s share of federal subsidies (our tax dollars), under-cutting the very farmers we support with our shopping habits.

For more than a decade, Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter has tackled head on the pollution side of the CAFO issue-- tracking manure run-off, alerting the authorities to violations, lobbying for better laws and oversight, educating citizens, and suing operations when necessary. Our own Lynn Henning has gained international recognition for her work documenting the pollution of these “farms."

Now, we’re taking it to the next level. Later this year, you’ll hear about a new campaign to ratchet up our efforts as the state’s CAFO watchdog while being more aggressive in our support of sustainable agriculture. We’ll involve many groups and individuals like you in the effort to apply pressure to these corporate polluters.

We’re excited about this campaign, but it won’t be effective without you! You can join the fight for a better food system in a number of ways right now:

Finally, stay up to date on the progress of our new campaign, learn about events and things you can do to help by signing up to be on our email list. You’ll learn about the campaign’s blog and website where you can share thoughts and ideas with like-minded people and help build the movement with us! Just contact

Thanks!  We look forward to working with you.