FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

November 21, 2018
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
Kenneth Surin
Return to Denver: Clouds on the Horizon
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu’s Ceasefire is Meant to Keep Gaza Imprisoned
John Steppling
Liar Liar
Bill Hackwell
Paradise Lost
Gary Leupp
“Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018
W. T. Whitney
Criminal Behavior: US May be Developing Biological Weapons
Zhivko Illeieff
How Media, Tech, and News Networks Normalize Trump’s Propaganda
NEVE GORDON - NICOLA PERUGINI
Migrant Caravan: Branding Migrants “Human Shields” Has a Deadly Motive
Wouter Hoenderdaal
Jordan Peterson’s Disturbing Views on Inequality
Dean Baker
Nicholas Kristof and the China Trade War
Colin Todhunter
Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology
November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail