A letter published by The Citizen on Dec. 20 titled "Big farms unfairly blamed for algae" was inappropriately titled by The Citizen editorial staff. The letter which I submitted was titled "CAFOs Operate 3%" as I wished to highlight the fact that CAFO designated family dairy farms manage a small percentage of the land base within the Owasco Lake Watershed. The action of Citizen editorial staff changing the title of my submitted letter to include the word "blame" is irresponsible and certainly does not reflect my opinion or intent.
Just in case the title of this letter has been modified from my submission, it should read "CAFOs Accept Role." Our family managed and operated farms accept our responsibility to protect water quality through improved practices while adhering to strict regulations. Large farming operations are visible, active economic drivers of this community which produce nutrition consumed both locally and globally. I do not feel it is unfair to question our influence on water quality as the title of the letter published December 20 suggested. Again, those were not my words published in that title.
Partners for Healthy Watersheds is a collaboration between many agriculture advocacy groups whose mission is to publicize the programs, policies, and people involved in continuous improvement of farming's stewardship of natural resources. Public educational meetings, farm tours, and print ads are utilized to explain evolving farm practices while challenging all stakeholders within watersheds to adopt a mission of continual improvement.
It is completely fair to question CAFO's roles in the formation of Harmful Algal Blooms. The daily management decisions made by farm owners, managers, employees, professional consultants, and environmental regulators are focused on both preserving and protecting water quality. Challenges such as changing weather patterns raise the risk of impact to resources beyond our management areas, affirming the importance of continual improvement in operating systems of all potential nutrient sources.
Significant and measureable improvements to the water quality of Owasco Lake will only be recognized after all nutrient sources within the watershed are managed or regulated to the same extent as CAFO designated farms. The belief that lower standards being applied to other nutrient sources within the watershed is somehow acceptable is the only idea that CAFOs believe to be unfair.