• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Howard Dean’s Vermont

Governor Howard Dean repeatedly defended dangerous levels of pesticide use on Vermont farms. Vermonters for a Clean Environment has been reporting as much ever since it issued a report almostt a year ago, in March of 2002.

In 1999 Vermont resident Judy Ferraro wrote the governor’s office complaining about pesticide poisoning from her neighboring orchard farm. Ferraro wrote in her letter, “Our gravest concern is that we are being exposed to these toxic chemicals in the air we breath; inhalation of pesticides is the most dangerous kind of exposure, and it is the most difficult to monitor. Many days I have called to my children to come indoors and shut the windows to protect ourselves. We have experienced burning eyes and lips when standing by our front door. Our property is surrounded on three sides by orchards
Last year, after many phone calls and pleas for assistance, the head of the Agriculture Dept. came to our place to check things out first hand. He was clearly disturbed by what he saw.”

As the report by Vermonter’s for a Clean Environment notes, many other organized citizens wrote Dean in hopes of persuading him to intervene in the use of harmful chemicals on Vermont farms. Ashley Green was one of the first Vermonters to speak out about the problem — she has been writing and complaining about her neighbor’s pesticide use since 1992.

In a letter dated January 2001, Green wrote governor Dean saying of her neighbor, “The grower in this case is using some chemicals that are recognized carcinogens. Increasingly, research is showing links between chemical exposure and disease, and children are most vulnerable to the effects of chemicals. I am very concerned with the chemical exposure my two children are getting. Recently I learned of a study in the Netherlands that has documented mild cognitive dysfunction in people exposed to pesticides, including problems with numbers, letters, and speech. Both my children are now receiving special aid at school for speech difficulties. Is there a correlation? I don’t know. But it seems that our current agricultural standards and Department of Agriculture permit land use practices that are potentially hazardous.”

These letters are most likely protected and locked away along with Dean’s other generational records in Vermont.

Howard Dean all but ignored these written complaints, and instead sided with the large polluters. In an Amicus brief filed by the state in October of 2001 the government stated that the farm does not have “a substantial adverse effect on the public health and safety.” And that the farm is “in compliance with Vermont’s water quality standards.”

This defense came after Addison County Superior Court Judge found that the orchard was a “nuisance.” The report adds that Vermont’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets (DAFM), “repeated the history of the department’s advice to move the pesticide mixing area in 1995 and again in 1996, noting that at the time of the violation in June 2001 ‘the mixing and loading area remained unchanged from the previous investigations.’ The violation charged: ‘The orchard worker mixed pesticides that resulted in either the pesticide product, dilution or rinsate entering an unnamed stream, thus violating 6 VSA Section 1111(a)(6).”

The Vermont Supreme Court has yet to decide on the matter. “Pre-existence” of the polluting farms the lower courts said, was reason enough for allowing the corporate farms to continue conducting their practices as they always have — even though the courts acknowledged the negative effects on small egg and dairy farmers.

Native Vermont farmer John Tremblay was forced to move his egg factory to New Hampshire because of Dean’s lackluster farm policies.

Tremblay contends that Dean “is a business man with big money. He is not a farmer. He doesn’t care about the people or the environment. He doesn’t care that the air stinks or that there are flies everywhere. He doesn’t care that his trucks ruin the roads and make it unsafe for your children to ride their bikes. He doesn’t care that he destroys your way of life, and unfortunately the state of Vermont doesn’t care either.”

Fran Bressette, a small dairy farmer in Vermont, is also irate over governor Dean’s polluter friendly politics. She notes that the DAFM allowed Canadian hog-growing multi-millionaire Lucien Breton, to open up a huge polluting egg factory in Highgate Vermont. Bressette claims small Vermont farmers have been victims of Dean’s outrageous leniency toward environmental protections in the state.

Bressette and her neighbors have been victims of a number of problems including, “flies, noise, odors, traffic, air quality, threats from disease, chemical exposure, loss of property values, increased stress and significant impacts on water.” Dean ignored their concerns, and was often “vicious” in his replies, according to Bressette.

In a letter to Bressette governor Dean wrote, “As you know, Leon Graves, Commissioner of Agriculture, has said he will deny Vermont Egg Farm a permit to expand until the fly problem has been taken care of.” Not once in the letter did Dean say he was going to address the Bressette’s grievance, nor did he say he supported Vermont farmers in their plight against a Canadian hog-baron.

During the testimony of Sherry Kawecki at the reconfirmations hearings of Vermont’s Agriculture Commissioner, Leon Graves, Kawecki stated; “Commissioner of Agriculture Leon Graves has lost the respect of both farmers and the consumers of this state. By his actions, he has shown disdain for small farmers, thumbed his nose at laws set by the legislature and sold out to corporate special interests.”

Even though Dean in a CNN interview on August 12th 2003, said “The destruction of the middle class and the widening gap between the rich and poor is being played out right before our eyes with the concentration of the agriculture industry.”

Many small farmers in Vermont wish Howard Dean had done something about the problem in their state while he had the chance. Many have picked up and moved out, and others have stayed and suffered as flies have ruined crops, and pesticides have poisoned vital water supplies.

We are “victims in this nightmare” Bressette concluded, “Dean washed his hands [of] the whole ordeal. We suffered major impacts from all this. If [people] want the truth on how Dean handled this, tell them to ask the victims. Us.”

 

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax–Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links / JOSH FRANK

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Coco Das
#OUTNOW
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail