Regulating the farming industry
As a Tonopah resident I appreciated your article in the May 1, 2019, West Valley View regarding the documentary film “Right to Harm” that included Hickman’s Family Farms in Tonopah and Arlington. It brings to light how our nation has gone from family farm operations to an industry producing waste affecting our environment, health and welfare from a high concentration of animals in a small area. I support my neighbors who are working with Maricopa County government agencies to improve regulation of this industry.
We were here first
After reading Lee Jablow’s letter to the editor about Hickman’s bashing I felt I had to respond to his obviously biased and uninformed letter. To put it simply: Lee Jablow does not know what the hell he is talking about.
I used to live in Arlington, which also has a big Hickman’s processing plant. Lee stated that people should have done their due diligence before moving there. That would only be true if Hickman’s was already established before other people moved in. Many of those complaining were already living in Tonopah and Arlington before Hickman’s invaded the areas.
I originally bought my property in Arlington back in 1993. That was at least seven to eight years before Hickman’s started building in Arlington, which was the first plant the company built before setting up in Tonopah in 2014. So, contrary to Lee Jablow’s assumption, the people complaining were there first!
When I bought my property in Arlington I selected that area because it was pristine, open desert. The landfill over on Salome Road was closed and covered. The nearest crop farm was at least five miles away from where I lived. The area I lived in was zoned for rural residential, not agriculture. There were no smells of any kind in the area before Hickman’s came and got the zoning changed for the spot the company built on.
When Hickman’s started construction in Arlington, somewhere around 1999 and 2000, which is when I noticed the new buildings being built about 2.5 miles east of my home, I had no clue as to what kind of business it was. The only thing I saw was a sign at the corner of 331st and Salome that said “Coming Soon Hickman’s Egg Ranch.” At that time I thought that the company was building an egg-packing plant where the eggs would be shipped in and packed for market. I did not know Hickman’s would house millions of chickens that produce tons and tons of manure and urine everyday.
Around 2003 a horrendous ammonia and vomit odor came into my home through my open windows while I slept and woke me from a sound sleep. This odor was so strong it burned my throat and lungs. I actually called the fire department thinking there was a fire or some kind of chemical accident in the area. But the fire department said since it was coming from Hickman’s there was nothing they could do. I complained to the county many, many times to no avail.
After several years of this I was started to develop health issues from the pollution put out by Hickman’s. I was always tired, and my lungs burned every time the stink came into the area. I also developed a bladder inflammation problem. My doctor could not identify the cause of my problems but said breathing the pollution from Hickman’s was definitely not helping me. The doctor suspected breathing the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide might have been causing my bladder inflammation, because these chemicals are absorbed directly into the blood through the lungs and put a heavy strain on the kidneys and liver.
I finally had enough of it and put my property up for sale around 2016 and moved to Chino Valley in 2018 after selling the property at a loss. After moving to Chino Valley, where the air is clean, my health problems miraculously disappeared. My lungs no longer burned, I was finally sleeping normally again and my bladder inflammation just simply went away without any medication, which confirmed my suspicions that Hickman’s pollution was the cause of my afflictions.
And one thing I can tell you is that if it was not for Hickman’s presence I probably would not have moved. Hickman’s forced me to move because the pollution was killing me.
So when someone like Lee Jablow, who does not even live in Tonopah or Arlington, says the people bashing Hickman’s have no case, he is sadly mistaken.
Why should we be the ones to move?
I am tired of people like you telling me how great the Hickmans are. The Hickmans are the robber barons of this century.
My husband and I were aware of the fragrance of nature you may find in a rural area when we bought our home. We live a quarter of a mile from a ranch. Not a problem. There is a problem when you have a bully such as the Hickman’s Family Farms barge into your community. It is not a farm; it is an industrial factory for poultry. We need to eat, but not from CAFOs, which unfortunately produce much of our food.
We lived here before the Hickmans built their CAFO. Why should we move?
A group of concerned residents organized and tried to STOPP (Editor’s note: Save Tonopah Oppose Poultry Plant is a local nonprofit) them from building. Unfortunately, they built their fowl business.
I have a neighbor who is so bad that for three months out of the year, anywhere from 40 to 80 of their baseballs hit my house, damage the stucco, break roof tiles and break windows. They trashed my neighbor’s rooftop solar system, too. This bad neighbor happens to be Millennium High School.
I bought my house in 2016, had an inspection and two broken roof tiles were repaired. In 2017 a baseball went through my dining room window just minutes before dinner. Glass flew 25 feet into the house. I talked with the athletic director back in March 2017 and dropped about 20 balls off that made their way to my house. He did nothing. I had to go to the district office to get the window fixed after three weeks. During the 2018 baseball season playoffs only 35 to 40 baseballs hit my house. During 2019 I have had over 40 baseball strikes on my house and another dining room window lost.
I lose the best part of the spring, as it is too dangerous to sit out back and enjoy the weather either for my family or animals. I have no relief from the baseballs striking my house and constantly damaging it. I have requested a high net but the athletic director continues to use the north baseball field and my house as the punching bag. Right now I have over 15 spots where the stucco is visibly broken, one broken window and sunscreen and 11 broken roof tiles.