Read the full article by Patrick Lohmann (Source NM)

“Dairy farmers and advocates near Cannon Air Force Base say officials there are stonewalling their call for transparency and more public forums to discuss PFAS contamination. 

In October 2018, representatives from the military base just outside of Clovis approached Art Schaap, a dairy farmer on more than 3,500 acres adjoining the base, and told him that they’d detected per- and polyfluorakyl substances in the water he used to sustain 5,200 cows. Known as ‘PFAS’ and deemed ‘forever chemicals,’ the substances are linked with various cancers in people and do not break down naturally. They are often found in the fire-fighting foam used regularly since the 1970s on military bases for firefighter training and to suppress fuel fires.

Because of the contamination, Schaap had to euthanize several thousand of his cows, and others died soon after. He’s not sold a single gallon of milk or cut of beef since 2018, and the contamination has destroyed the fourth-generation farmer’s livelihood, he said. The corpses of the animals are still on his property covered in plastic, he said, because he can’t find any agency or company that will accept and safely dispose of them.

There are other dairies adjacent to Cannon Air Force Base, and the state Environment Department and U.S. Department of Defense have since battled on several fronts about how to remediate the PFAS and also determine the extent of contamination. That includes litigation in federal court and also an effort by Cannon to receive a discharge permit from the Water Quality Control Commission. 

And members of the public have continually sought answers from the Cannon, which they said are lacking. 

‘We are getting stonewalled,’ Schaap said Friday at a Clovis meeting of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, a bipartisan legislative committee made up of state representatives and senators. ‘The Air Force and Department of Defense seem to have a total disregard for our family and our community and our employees and business. This farm has been the blood-life for my family and for many hard-working employees that lived and worked on the farm.'” …