Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Union chief hails new dairies

The Associated Press

        TOLEDO, Ohio — The new leader of the state's largest farm union says he welcomes Dutch dairy operations being established in northwest Ohio.

        The dairy farms will become additional customers for grain farmers, said Terry McClure, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau.

        In the past three years, Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development Inc. has brokered 22 new farms in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, with nine now operating. Some farmers and homeowners say they fear the new operations will pollute the air and water. Groups in Putnam and Williams counties have filed suits to stop construction of the farms.

        Dave Burkhart, president of Citizens of Putnam County for Clean Air and Water, said he's not surprised by the Farm Bureau's position. “They've been supportive of the big farms for a long time,” Mr. Burkhart said Monday. “It's a very uphill battle.”

        Mr. McClure is a fifth-generation farmer whose family grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 2,600 acres in parts of Paulding and Van Wert counties. He said he wants to strengthen the Farm Bureau as a conservative, family organization that works to make Ohio a friendlier place for agriculture.

        The Farm Bureau includes 55,000 farmers, retired farmers or farmland owners.

        “Overall, it's the most powerful farm organization in Ohio, and when the Farm Bureau speaks, the agriculture community listens,” said Fred Dailey, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.


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- Union chief hails new dairies