The Calvert Neighborhood Alliance is maintaining their push for more regulations on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Cecil County.
“It’s time to fish or cut bait,” Sue Orndorff told the Cecil County Council during the Citizen’s Corner meeting prior to Tuesday’s evening legislative session.
She asked the County Council how long they will continue to wait until they enact the proposed legislation to establish boundary setbacks and other regulations, noting that they rushed the CAFO committee to come up with proposed regulations during three meetings over a six-week time period, but it has now been 17 months since Calvert area residents have asked the County Council to do something on this issue.
The Cecil County Council has agreed on potential regulations for CAFOs but has set the measure aside for several months, noting the right to farm and the need to give farmers working on CAFOs the time to continue with their on-going plans.
The County Council said two farms are currently in the development pipeline to create CAFOs.
Orndorff also asked the County Council if they will accept the science and results of an upcoming Health Impact Assessment that is about to begin. It is being done by the University of Maryland.
County officials had declined a request that the county conduct the CAFO study from the Calvert Neighborhood Alliance so the group has worked to find qualified people to conduct the study without financial help from the county.
Calvert Neighborhood Alliance member Cindy Smith said a grad student, under the direction of an expert at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, will be starting to collect data. In addition to monitoring environmental conditions, the researcher will be contacting a number of individuals in the county. A survey will be involved.
Smith asked the County Council who in county government should be a part of the organization of the study. County Council President Joyce Bowlsbey recommended the county health department represent the county in the study.
Smith said the research will be completed during the coming weeks and the results should be ready in the spring.
Bowlsbey asked if environmental date collected during winter months would be sufficient for the study.
Smith said the results from one season are a good indicator of the environmental conditions.
“I think it’s a great idea that you are working on it. I really do,” Bowlsbey said.
Smith said the study area will not be confined to the Calvert area.
“It’s for the entire county,” Smith said.
County Council members had questioned the veracity of some of the CAFO data and studies previously submitted to them by the Calvert Neighborhood Alliance.
As for whether they will believe the report generated through this upcoming University of Maryland study, Council vice president Dan Schneckenbrger said the credentials of the University of Maryland faculty member seem to show expertise in the area. Council members promised to read the result with open minds.
Council member Jackie Gregory said it is important to protect the property rights of the farmers in the county, saying the Council never wanted to impose legislation that would hurt property owners who have already invested time and money going through the long regulatory process to create their CAFOs.
Councilman Bob Meffley said the people questioning CAFOs have made an impact on the County Council on this issue.
“To me, air quality and water quality, that’s quality of life,” Meffley said.