I would like to thank Ryan Burns ("The Goat Test," July 28) for trying to shed light on the Cypress Grove debate in a reasonable tone. There is, however, one thing always missing from the discussions: Cypress Grove did not seek public input from the surrounding community until the day before escrow was slated to close. And only then due to the leaking of their plan, and the subsequent neighborhood shock. Once escrow closed, any opportunity for public discussion and/or compromise would have been forced into the only chance left to the community to be heard; a lawsuit.
I feel the responsibility for creating this community rift lies squarely on the shoulders of Cypress Grove. This is an Arcata-based company. The executives know how Arcatans value community discussion. But rather than seek input a good six months before going forward with the project, they chose not to seek that input until they were forced to by circumstances. It was that decision that backfired on them.
Regarding the actual dairy plan itself. It is a model used extensively, almost exclusively, in the Netherlands, where Cypress Grove manufactures a couple of its cheeses. How that goat dairy model is really working is in question since the Netherlands are experiencing a major outbreak of Q-fever, whose vectors include goat. Unfortunately, goats do not appear ill until the microbe has had considerable time to shed in goat feces, urine and their milk. Infection by Q-fever in goats can't be diagnosed until a pregnant goat has a still-birth or otherwise unexplainable spontaneous abortions. Many people in the Netherlands, particularly in the populations closest to the farms have become ill, and yes, there have been deaths. There is no vaccine for Q-fever, and it does exist in the United States. It is considered an under-reported disease.
This is the kind of information that would have come out if Cypress Grove had sought public input earlier. I'm really sorry, because I have loved Cypress Grove cheese for years. But their previous standing in the community is no reason not to ask, and expect answers to, hard questions. "Just trust me" is not acceptable, and I'm surprised that two City Council members I've supported have implied that it is.
Kathy Marshall, RN, Arcata
The folks who are having their perfect little worlds disturbed ("The Goat Test," July 28) by a moderate dose of reality will, like the spoiled kid in the grocery store, do anything they can to get (in this case KEEP) their own way. Their irrationality would be considered inappropriate if they screamed and jumped up and down, so they make outrageous claims, slander fellow-citizens and create unsubstantiated scenarios of catastrophe.
(Return thumb to mouth please.)
GT Buckley, Eureka