I would like to discuss an issue that has been important to me for several years, but does not get much attention outside the Midwest or agriculture heavy states like North Carolina. In these states much of the landscape is covered by large indoor animal feeding units. These confinements, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOS), hold thousands of hogs or turkeys and are typically disliked by the people living near them.
Unfortunately, CAFOs are also common here in Texas. The last several years have seen an increase in the number of CAFOs in Texas. McLennan and Erath counties are home to many CAFOs that house cattle and chickens, and their is a major hog confinement industry in much of the panhandle.
Regardless of what kind of animals are produced in CAFOs they inevitably generate several tons of animal waste, which is accompanied by persistent and strong foul odors that are easily detectable miles away. This also generates spills and runoff that contribute heavily to water pollution, making local rivers and lakes undesirable for fishing, swimming and most other purposes. The confinements are often owned by absentee land owners, including some of America’s largest corporations, who are frequent recipients of government money which is used to expand their operations.
Here are some of the facts:
1. A typical hog confinement can hold up to 10,000 pigs.
2. Confined livestock produce an estimated 500 million tons of excrement per year.
3. CAFOs release Hydrogen Sulfide, Ammonia, particulate matter and other highly toxic pollutants into the air and water.
4. These pollutants are detrimental to human health and individuals living near these have high levels of: diarrhea, excessive coughing, sore throats, fatigue and depression.
5. Workers in CAFOs are found to be at high risk for respiratory diseases: asthma, acute bronchitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, and pulmonary endema.
6. Manure from these is stored liquid forms in lagoons that spill and leak into soil and water.
7. A spill from a single lagoon in North Carolina once released 25 million gallons of liquid hog waste into local water ways. Hundreds of smaller spills of thousands of gallons occur each year. EPA estimates: 35,000 miles of contaminated rivers. (more…)