Stoneridge Farm, in Arundel, ME, was the first farm in the state to learn it had high levels of PFAS "forever chemicals" in its water. The toxic chemicals built up from spreading sludge, as a soil amendment, year after year. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection assured the Stones that the practice was totally safe, so he helped to spread this form of fertilizer on many area farms, as well. But it was not safe. The chemicals were in the water and feed given to their cows, who then produced milk with very high levels of PFAS.
Farmer Fred Stone, and his team, chose to notify their milk distributers as a matter of integrity and food safety, though it caused financial ruin, for them.
Fred was recently quoted in the Beacon saying, "My moral compass so far has cost me $1.5 million. That is what it costs to have a moral compass." It has also cost them their health and the ability to keep their family farm alive, with the value of the land now ruined by toxic chemicals left from years of sludge spreading.
Fred Stone thinks telling his story is a lot like fishing, "you never know what you are going to catch." And after the painful loss of their herd, their livelihood and their health, he wants to do what he can to spread the word on toxics in farming. Telling his story has helped. Presently, the state of Maine is about to have the first law in the country banning the spreading of sludge on farmland (LD 1911, currently awaiting the governor's signature). Likewise, a newly established $60 million dollar trust in Maine is intended to offer relief to farms like Stoneridge.
"So God Made a Farmer" by Paul Harvey was played in this interview to highlight the powerful connection farmers have to the land and thus underscore the inconceivable loss farmers experience when their legacy is cut short by toxic ruin.
Play audio, below: