Clovis, NM – After Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis announced water nearby the base was contaminated with PFA chemicals, the people living nearby the base have been dealing with the consequences.
The Air Force immediately started delivering bottled water to those neighbors but for farmers in the area, that wasn’t good enough since their animals were also drinking the contaminated well water.
Art Schapp is a dairy farmer. His farm is next door to the Air Force base. In August 2018, the Air Force told him the water was contaminated with chemicals the Air Force uses during training to put out fires.
Once he found out, he immediately called the USDA in New Mexico.
“I asked them to check my milk because I didn’t want to have any exposure to people in any products,” Schapp said.
He said he found out shortly after that it wasn’t just his water that was contaminated but his cow’s milk as well. That left him with 4,000 dairy cows, but not a drop of milk he was able to sell.
“So I thought ‘I need to sell my cows if I can’t sell my milk’ and then I went to sell my cows and they said, ‘No, your cows are quarantined. You can’t sell them,'” Schapp said.
Schapp traveled to Washington, D.C. this week, advocating for new Environmental Protection Agency regulations to put stricter guidelines on PFA use.
“We need them to set a standard so the Cannon Airforce Base has the tools to get off the property and clean up the water,” Schapp said. “Right now, they just want to put drinking fountains on my property for human consumption. Well, that’s not good enough because I got 4,000 animals that are polluted by this poison and I don’t know what to do with them.”
He said it’s not just about his livelihood, but also safety for consumers.
“The military is saying ‘Well we only want to know human consumption’ but the problem is food. Food is human consumed, your meat, milk and dairy products are human consumed,” Schapp said.
He said the USDA might help him with what to do with his cows. But if he can’t get help, he will be forced to euthanize all 4,000 cows.