There's much more going on with this hen house issue than meets the eye. Someone has a dog in this fight, and it's looking more and more like one of our county commissioners.
The plaintiffs, in their Part 106(a)(4) lawsuit against the county, were granted discovery powers by Judge Patrick to gather additional evidence concerning a potential conflict of interest for the role Commissioner Lund played as the signatory for the $1.35 million Soil Health Initiative Grant, which relies heavily on soil amendments (more specifically dairy, beef and poultry manure). Commissioner Lund, the president of Painted Sky, signed the Soil Health Initiative Agreement in July 2011 and a month later approved two hen house operations. He has refused requests to provide minutes of several of the Painted Sky meetings leading up to his signing for the grant. Most recently it appears those minutes may have been "lost."
In July, Judge Patrick invalidated the BoCC's approval of the hen houses for lack of evidence and abuse of discretion, and remanded it back to them for further review. A second public hearing was held Sept. 4 for the BoCC to gather additional evidence prior to issuing a new decision on the two hen house applications. Several inputs, one in writing and two presented orally to the commissioners, came from members of the Delta County Farm and Livestock Bureau. The Farm Bureau, nationwide, is now probably the largest advocate, biggest financial supporter and lobbyist, on both state and federal levels, for industrial factory farming today, much to the dismay of many of the small, traditional farmers and ranchers they are supposed to be representing. Mr. Chann Fogg, vice president of the Delta County Farm and Livestock Bureau board, submitted a letter advocating for the hen houses, and two rancher/farmer board members from Redlands Mesa spoke in favor of the hen houses saying they felt the operation was compatible with current agricultural practices on Redlands Mesa. Ironically, their testimony is actually seen as reinforcing the opponents' position that Redlands Mesa has only low impact, traditional agriculture and that a high intensive confinement operation is totally incompatible with the neighborhood and should never be approved at its proposed location.
Here's what's very interesting. Commissioner Lund is the president of the Delta County Farm and Livestock Bureau board. Hello?! Did he recuse himself from all discussions on the hen house topic with his board, as Mr. Fogg claims? At the hearing, Commissioner Lund had an obligation to disclose that a group under his leadership was advocating publicly as a proponent for the hen houses, and he failed to do so. The situation presents YET another potential conflict of interest for Commissioner Lund, and in the interest of preserving the integrity of the BoCC decision process, he must recuse himself from further participation in the entire hen house issue. Please visit www.clucnorthfork.org for the latest.
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