Health Board Issues Cease And Desist On Resilient Family Farm

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Health , Agriculture & Farming

Resilient Family Farm.  FILE PHOTO

HARWICH — The health department has issued a cease and desist on the wholesale food and piggery operations at Resilient Family Farm. The department is also seeking immediate compliance with best management practices for manure storage.

The cease and desist order was issued to owner Barry Dino Viprino the day before the health department issued a report on a complaint about contaminated surface water in the creek adjacent to Lovers Lane. The report stated the complaint alleged the creek had turned green due to contamination from a nearby farm.

“The scientific analysis does not support that hypothesis at this time,” Health Director Paula J. Champagne's report, dated April 20, stated.

The cease and desist was issued by Champagne on April 19 due to the operation of an unlicensed piggery. It also focused on wholesale food sales at Peterson's Market in Yarmouth and manure management at the farm, which it stated is not in accordance with agricultural best management practices. Champagne said a show cause hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 13.

Champagne stated in the order that during the initial discussions with the town community development inspection team, Viprino was required to complete several items. They included verification as an agricultural operation subject to provisions and exemptions; development of a farm operation plan approved by USDA; and compliance with the outstanding order by the conservation commission for operating within a buffer zone to wetland.

“As the operations at Resilient Family Farm continue to expand, it is apparent that we need to reiterate some of the items subject to board of health and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) regulations,” Champagne stated in the order.

The order said the farm needs a 2017 town of Harwich retail food permit for retail sale of pre-packaged items from the freezer in Harwich. While the animals are slaughtered, prepared and packaged at a USDA approved facility and properly labeled, the order states that an additional permit is required from local boards of health to participate in area Farmers Markets.

Viprino said he made a mistake with the wholesale food permit, because he thought he could deliver his products to the store. The farm owner said his permit allows those products to be picked up at the farm and taken to be sold in the store, but there are refrigeration and transportation regulations that have to be met for him to deliver those products. Viprino said he has filed for that permit.

The order also stated the breeding and keeping of swine other than for personal consumption is a noisome trade and in accordance with state statutes requires a site assignment and a public hearing before the board of health.

Champagne stated the site assignment for the piggery and the need for a wholesale food permit were brought to the owner's attention in a string of emails in September 2016.

Viprino said the town did not have a definition for a piggery when he was seeking permitting last August and questioned how he could be in violation absent the definition. “You can't take an action if you haven't defined it,” He said.

The order also stated manure is to be composted on an impervious clay storage area using agricultural best management practices. “Numerous complaints have been received concerning the management of this pile. We need to review practices and procedures,” Champagne stated. She cited observations of runoff and erosion, growth of a manure pile beyond the impervious layer and exposure to the elements.

“I've has several agencies out here which have said I'm complying with the law,” Viprino said of the manure pile.

He also said he has had a cover for the manure pile on site since last July, but when the conservation commission issued the stop work order, he couldn't cover it. Now that the board of health has gotten involved the conservation commission has given its approval to cover the pile, Viprino added.

The order also points out a mobile poultry processing unit and associated equipment on site does not have approved operations plans and permits. Champagne stated operation of the unit requires a two-step approval process involving the local board of health and MDPH.

Viprino said he and his attorney will be at the hearing contesting the cease and desist order. Both sides will have to show why they can and cannot do specific things, he said.

As for the report relating to a light green/yellow sheen in the creek off Lover's Lane, health inspector Meggan Tierney visited the site on April 11 and conducted an inspection of the area. She said the sheen looked similar to pollen.

But upon further examination, she stated, “In my opinion this sheen could possibly be from the construction happening at 61 Lovers Lane. The construction of this new dwelling produces dust and construction debris along with soil run off that could be floating on the surface of the water. The stream did not have an odor.”

The health department took samples and tested for nitrate, nitrite and fecal coliform. The results showed no detectable nitrate or nitrite in the water, but surface and middle water samples showed high amounts of fecal coliform, well above standards for recreational use.

“It is important to note that while the results were excessive, there is no baseline for comparison. To our knowledge there is no other sample information regarding this section of the creek covering a variety of weather conditions, pre- and post-farming practices,” the report states.

The report states the scientific analysis does not support the conclusion the discoloration is coming from the farm.