Cabot hosted a forum in October 2010 to answer any questions or concerns and to provide factual information to the public about our landspreading practices. Below are two independent reports in addition to our own.
Click to download the different presentations below.
September 15, 2010
Letter to the Times Argus Editor:
Cabot Creamery is a good corporate citizen, values our reliance on our Vermont connections and does right by the communities in which we farm, work and sell products. The well-being of the environment is essential to our success — both for the farmers who own the brand and for the quality of our products. Several recent letters to the editor suggest otherwise.
Cabot has a number of State-approved permits for the landspreading of our dairy washwater. Washwater is the water pumped through the pipes that carries milk to vats to make our dairy products. Approximately 0.6% of the washwater we use to irrigate and enrich our farmers' fields represents residue from cleaning agents. They are all approved for use by FDA, EPA and ANR and their rate of dilution is measured in parts per million - all legally allowable and significantly below state and federal limits. While adherence to state permits may not reassure some, the fact remains that any discharges that cause environmental harm are legally prosecutable. Claims against Cabot under these laws have been found groundless by state regulators.....
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Cabot received a loan from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in the mid-eighties to build a warehouse and add much needed cheese making equipment. Under the terms of the loan, the money was to be paid back to the town of Cabot for projects they prioritized. The town was repaid and determined options for the money's use. Like many Vermont towns at the time, waste treatment was sorely needed but the town of Cabot's location on the upper Winooski River could not support a treatment facility. Please consult the town of Cabot to determine how they used the funds.
According to all environmental evaluation and study, including Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources, the upper Winooski River would not ever be able to assimilate treated wastewater from the town and the creamery. This was true in the 1980's and it is still true today. We have investigated every waste treatment technology that is developed or proposed. Landspreading remains our best option.
Quote from Shawn Bryan, Former CFO/COO during the time of this discussion.
Our discharge permit allows for spreading washwater in the fall, winter, and spring at one-quarter the volume we spread in the summer. These cautious volumes ensure no run off from frozen fields.
No, landowners are not paid.
Landowners choose to enroll for the irrigation and soil-enriching nutrient value of the washwater on the fields. All fields in the program are certified by an approved, outside engineer. Spray rates are based on characteristics of the specific fields. Cabot is required to enroll reserve acres equal to 120% of actual acres needed. Cabot maintains a fleet of six vehicles for spraying washwater. Our state certified drivers have 93 years of collective experience.
Cabot is required on an ongoing basis to provide a full regimen of sampling and testing for washwater and groundwater, as well as a scan for toxic chemicals. Cabot is also required to use monitoring wells to protect and maintain the watershed. The testing results are audited and in full compliance.
Our landspreading program has always been regulated by the State of Vermont under an Indirect Discharge Permit (IDP) from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR.) All team members for our landspreading system are licensed and trained by the state.
No, while it was first permitted in Vermont in 1990, the program was based on successful applications in the Midwest that have been in use for more than 30 years.
"Monitoring the land application of dairy processing washwwater for more than 20 year has proven this approach is sound. There have been no violations of the Vermont Water Quality Standards when the dairy processing washwater is land applied in accordance with the restrictions of the permit." —John J. Akielaszek, Section Chief/DEC
(Please reference 2012 Permit Amendment Testimony)
The washwater from our dairy manufacturing facilities consists of 99.4% water and 0.6% solids. Most of the solids are from the dairy products. Less than one-tenth of 1% of the washwater is from cleaning agents. All cleaning agents are approved for use with food products and are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration and are measured in dilution rates as parts per million.
"The Agency does not have evidence of hazardous compounds based on concentrations which would be considered toxic. There have been no environmental catastrophes. Rather, the concentration of the substances which were detected are below drinking water Standards. One function of water treatment is to make water suitable for drinking. Drinking water standards have been established by the State and Federal Governments to determine what constitutes suitable for drinking. Even without treatment, the constituents that have raised concern on the part of the commenter are present in levels which, if they were present in a drinking water source, would meet the drinking water standards." — John J. Akielaszek, Section Chief/DEC
Please reference the 2012 Permit Amendment Testimony.
The facts and science of Cabot's landspreading program have been rigorously reviewed, tested and made public. Nevertheless, there are a handful of people who are unwilling to accept the science and the regulatory policies. While our permit to landspread (IDP) is renewed every five years, administrative changes occur every year as landowners enter or exit the program and this can trigger public hearings by critics. Our detractors use the public hearings to air their rhetoric, but always absent any facts or evidence to support their claims. Not one of our detractors has been awarded any official status or recognition by ANR. Sadly, each time our detractors wield their wild claims, new listeners, reporters and concerned citizens who don't have the facts side with the critics.
We hope this web page will allow people to do their own investigation of the facts and reach their own conclusions.