Jimboomba Times, August 8, 2012

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Click on IMG above to see two letters and an article published in the JT.   I respond to all three of these below.

1. (Main article) Here, a Cedar Vale ex-dairy farmer weighs into something he knows little about.  Again we read the furphy, ‘ Farmers are under strict (chemical) control’ and ‘(The Chemicals) do get airborne … but it doesn’t (get into drinking water)’.  Again, no evidence, just the same old assertions.  Perhaps Mr Thompson would like to prove this by coming over to Greenbank and sampling the tank water my neighbour’s family had to stop drinking after it made them all sick.   This tank is barely 15 metres from the igloos.  The spray hits their roof, then washes into their water supply.

Mr Thompson, the Intensive Agriculture (or ‘Protected Horticulture’) operations we are objecting to so close to our homes bear no resemblance to your dairy farm – these are not ‘farms’ at all, but an intensive industrial activity on very small acreage lots with very poor soils that require large amounts of chemicals and fertilisers to be profitable.  Even the chemical manufacturer’s guidelines make it clear the Chlorpyrifos is dangerous to human health and should not be used near humans, pets or homes.

Your argument is specious.  The difference between a large open farm and this type of small-lot intensive agriculture is like the difference between a person working on their car in their garage, and deciding to operate a panelbeating shop.  The latter, like Intensive Agriculture, in noxious, noisy and unacceptable in a residential area.

2. Thankyou to Douglas Higgins for confirming our point. Organophosphates were used to kill people in wartime – whether soldiers of prisoners is irrelevant – these chemicals are toxic and injurious to human health.  Further, you provide disturbing anecdotal evidence of deaths occurring in the past due to misuse – by farmers – of these chemicals.  We can testify to ongoing chemical misuse in our neighborhood – sickness in humans, dead pets and domestic fowl, and wildlife dieoffs all point to this.  Really, with supporters like you, the intensive agriculture operators don’t need enemies, do they?  All you have done is confirm what we have been saying all along.

And why, I ask, do you think residents should pay for blood tests?  Council, and farms, have a duty of care to not jeopardise our safety; we should not have to undergo expensive medical procedures as a result of Council’s or our neighbours’ negligence. It’s bad enough that so many residents have reported adverse health events that they believe to be pesticide related. (See the page of objections to the 51-63 Harvest Rd Material change of Use DA.)

Also, I’d like to point out that noone has ever said that birds had been deliberately poisoned by farmers; we simply pointed out that these dieoffs have happened immediately after spraying, something those of us who live near to these ‘farms’ have observed many times.  Plenty of the supporters of these noxious farms have, however, consistently accused residents of this with ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF.

3.Growcom CEO Alex Livingstone is SIMPLY WRONG here.  This area of Greenbank has been rural residential for over 30 years.  Any farms that did exist here in the past were open farms.  The proliferation of igloo-style protected horticulture here in the past ten years bears NO RESEMBLANCE to the farms of old.  They are an intensive, industrial land use that is not compatible with safe rural living. I daresay Mr Livingstone’s opinions would be quite different if he had to live with one of these noxious ‘farms ‘ right next to his bedroom window!

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Click on the above link to read my published response (Hallelujah!) to the personal attacks and misinformation being spread by Mr Livingstone and Cr Pidgeon and their supporters.  Here’s a sample:

‘They spray, then birds die. Simple. Observable. Obvious. Attacking the residnets for speaking these truths does not make them any less true. It’s about time the people who live here were afforded some respect …’

It took a full day of emailing back and forth with the editor to get this letter published. He did not like my suggestion that he had rolled over in the face of corporate pressure. But I did point out that the JT had ignored my previous five attempts to respond to some of the provocative claims they have published from the likes of Mr Livingstone (who has had letters published every week for some time now in which he lectures the residents as though they are children).   Note that everyone – except for we residents – involved in this debate holds a paid position in farming, media or government sectors, and NONE of them live in Greenbank.

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