Friends of Minidoka Statement - Confined Animal Feedlot (CAFO)
The Friends of Minidoka (FOM) is a non-profit 501(c)(3), based in Idaho, dedicated to advancing the mission of the Minidoka National Historic Site and to help tell the story of the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
FOM works with National Park Service (NPS) and local and national partners to preserve Minidoka's historic and educational resources while promoting tourism in the Magic Valley. In the last ten years, FOM has helped NPS rebuild the Honor Roll and Guard Tower, conserve land at Minidoka (in partnership with The Conservation Fund) and supported the Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium. Minidoka currently hosts an annual pilgrimage and visits by school groups, senior citizens and the general public. With the construction of a proposed visitor center, the park will soon be able to accommodate more visitors.
As part of Minidoka's mission, FOM supports efforts to tell the story of agricultural development in southern Idaho, through the work of local farmers and Japanese Americans during World War II and, following the war, the development of farming on former camp lands, most notably the Farm-in-a-Day in 1952. For over 100 years, Japanese Americans families on the West Coast and in Idaho have embraced agriculture as a pathway to economic success to create jobs, support local communities and help feed our nation.
However, FOM is concerned about the scale and location of a proposed confined animal feedlot operation (CAFO) and the negative impact on Minidoka's ability to tell the many stories about the Japanese American incarceration and historical development of agriculture in the Magic Valley. If developed, the feedlot would bring industrial agriculture and over 13,000 cows to within a mile of the park and generate animal waste and odors that would adversely impact park visitors and the value of the park as an educational and economic resource.
FOM seeks to work with the CAFO owners to reach a voluntary, "win-win" agreement that would continue the traditional agricultural use of the Southview Dairy property by compensating the landowners and permanently eliminating the CAFO as a threat to the park. FOM believes that this is the best option for all parties, in order to avoid further expense, uncertainty and delays associated with litigation. FOM stands ready to work in partnership with the current and future owners of the site and local stakeholders. In this way, Minidoka NHS, the Japanese American community and agriculture could continue moving forward together and build on a strong farming tradition dating back over a century.
Japanese Americans and Agriculture
Like many families in rural America, Japanese Americans value and have a strong heritage in family farming. Using their farming expertise from Japan, Japanese immigrants settled on the West Coast in the late nineteenth century and started small farms on the West Coast to supply fruits and vegetables to local communities. In Washington State, Japanese Americans cleared land to grow strawberries and other crops around Puget Sound. When alien land laws on the West Coast barred Japanese Americans from owning land, some families moved to the Intermountain West, including Idaho, to continue to farm.
While many Japanese Americans on the West Coast lost their land, farms, businesses, houses and personal property when they were incarcerated during World War II, they continued to farm in camp; growing crops and raising livestock to help feed families in camp. Outside the camps, Japanese Americans worked for local farmers to address labor shortages resulting from the war effort and supported irrigation public works projects. In southern Idaho, Japanese Americans helped grow sugar beets and worked with local officials to build irrigation facilities as part of the Milner-Gooding Canal.
Following the war, Japanese American families settled in local communities outside the camps and returned to the West Coast to rebuild their lives. Today, Japanese American farmers continue to play an important role to help create food, jobs, and economic opportunities in rural communities.
Following the end of World War II, the government distributed land at the former camp site to returning veterans to help develop agriculture. As part of this effort, the local soil conservation district sponsored the "Farm-in-a-Day" on April 17, 1952, when volunteers helped the Herrmann Family homestead and develop their farm. Today, the NPS owns the "Farm-in-a-Day" and is working to tell its story to park visitors. In addition, farming is compatible with the park: the NPS currently leases a portion of park land for farming. Outside the park boundary, a local farmer has placed a conservation easement on nearly 100 acres to preserve the open landscape surrounding Minidoka and advances the park's educational mission.
Significant investments in Minidoka as an educational resource
Thanks to the hard work of many partners over the last 14 years, the NPS has made great strides to help the park serve as an important educational resource for Idaho and the nation:
Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)
- Reconstructed the Honor Roll and Guard tower.
- Began restoring residential Barracks Blocks 22 at its original location.
- Preserved the "Farm-in-a-Day," the camp's fire station, and military police site.
- Built interpretive trails featuring new interpretive signage.
- Began planning for new visitor center on site.
- Eliminated the threat of a high-voltage power line that would have cut the park in two.
FOM recognizes that Idaho's dairy industry creates jobs, supports manufacturing and local communities, and puts food on America's tables. However, because the proposed CAFO would generate odors, dust, insects, nitrates and other pollutants and degrade the value of Minidoka as an educational and economic resource, FOM opposes the development of a CAFO at the Southview Dairy location. FOM seeks to reach a permanent agreement with current or future landowners to ensure that the CAFO property will remain in traditional agriculture use, such as irrigated crop farming and low intensity livestock grazing.
In 2012, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld Jerome County's decision to issue a permit to allow the landowners to raise young cows (heifers) for nearby dairy farms. The proposed CAFO is located about a mile upwind (west) of the Minidoka National Historic Site. The decision capped several years of litigation led by FOM in partnership with the Japanese American Citizens League, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment (ICARE), Preservation Idaho and local families.
With your financial support, we can help reach an agreement to permanently eliminate the greatest threat to Minidoka and the National Park Service's ability to tell the story of the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II along with the story of the Farm-in-a-Day to future generations. You can make a difference to prevent a second injustice from being committed.
Help us save one of America's most important historic sites.
We have a unique opportunity to craft an agreement that would eliminate the CAFO, compensate the landowner through a negotiated settlement or "buyout," keep the land as a working farm, and ensure that Minidoka would reach its full potential to tell the story of the forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the Pacific Northwest during World War II. There are three ways to help:
- Join Friends of Minidoka at www.Minidoka.org.
- Donate funds to FOM to help us reach an agreement regarding the CAFO. Your donations will help us raise and leverage additional funds.
- Pledge support for the CAFO buyout. If an agreement is reached, a donation for the pledged amount would be used for the purchase.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Board Chair, FOM
(253) 245-8495, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Chair, FOM
(202) 309-1497, email@example.com