Nessel, EGLE settle with mass farming company in permitting, pollution case


Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/David Eggert)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Today, Attorney General Dana Nessel and director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Liesl Clark announced settling in a case against Slater Farms, on account of noncompliance with permitting requirements and pollution.

The lawsuit was first filed last September, alleging that the concentrated animal farming operation (CAFO) was not managing their animal wasteproperly.

The farming conglomerate is permitted by Michigan as a CAFO, comprising of several related corporate entities. Collectively, it owns and manages animal feeding operations of more than 1,500 mature dairy cows and 400 cattle.

Every year, those operations produce about 8.9 million gallons of liquid waste and 1,500 tons of solid waste. Slater Farms manages a system to dispose of its operational waste, along with roughly 10.7 million more gallons of liquid waste from an unrelated commercial farm.

That includes collecting and spreading the associated waste on hundreds of acres in both Newaygo and Muskegon counties. 

Slater Farms is no stranger to settlements, as the suit filed last year originated from a 2012 settlement, in which the farming operation was working as a CAFO without proper licenses. After Slater Farms did obtain a proper license, they then violated it by not managing waste adequately.

“We’re always willing to help Michigan residents and companies comply with laws that protect public health and natural resources,” Clark said. “But neither EGLE nor our Attorney General are going to stand idly by while those laws are repeatedly ignored.” 

A release from AG Nessel details that the waste mismanagement is actively causing E. coli, nitrogen and phosphorous to pollute the White River watershed- potentially causing negative effects to the Great Lakes.

“I appreciate the coordination between my office and EGLE to reach this settlement, which includes clear accountability for actions that puts one of Michigan’s most precious resources at risk,” AG Nessel said. “It is long past time CAFOs like Slater Farms start adhering to additional oversight and permit measures instead of using our clean water as their own personal sewer. The future of our environment depends on it.” 

Slater Farms must pay a $120,000 penalty, however, Slater Farms does not violate the law or its newly issued permit for roughly one year after issuance, half of the penalty will be waived. 

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