Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota are currently moving legislation forward that would make undercover investigations on factory farms, especially filming and photography, a crime. Making the distribution of the films and photos a crime is also being considered in the bill.
As I was looking for the latest scoop on where legislation stands I came across a link to Center for Food Safety (video). I was sidetracked from my search by the devastating effects resulting outside the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
I often focus on the extreme suffering of the animals living on factory farms and the employees that are part of that system. In doing so the suffering of the surrounding community can be overlooked.
According to the Factory Farm Map, presented by Food & Water Watch:
- The average size of hog factory farms increased by 42 percent over a decade. Seven states average more than 10,000 hogs per factory farm.
- The average size of egg operations has grown by half over the decade. The five states with the largest flocks all average at least 750,000 hens per factory farm.
Something worth noting, relative to the law being considered:
- In Iowa, there were 17.9 million hogs, 1.18 million beef cattle and 53.5 million chickens on the largest operations in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture. Iowa ranks first in factory-farmed egg-laying hens, first in factory-farmed hogs and fourth in large cattle feedlots.
- In Minnesota, there were 7.1 million hogs, 290,000 beef cattle, 91,200 dairy cows and 12.7 million chickens on the largest operations in 2007, ac- cording to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture. Minnesota ranks third in the nation in factory-farmed hogs and ninth in factory-farmed egg-laying hens.
“A feeding operation with 800,000 pigs could produce over 1.6 million tons of waste a year. That amount is one and a half times more than the annual sanitary waste produced by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” Centers for Disease Control
Ground application of untreated manure is one of the most common disposal methods due to its low cost. Other manure management strategies include pumping liquefied manure onto spray fields, trucking it off-site, or storing it until it can be used or treated. Manure can be stored in deep pits under the buildings that hold animals, in clay or concrete pits, treatment lagoons, or holding ponds. That waste makes its way into streams, rivers and lakes. The EPA’s 2000 National Water Quality Inventory found that 29 states specifically identified animal feeding operations, not just concentrated animal feeding operations, as contributing to water quality impairment.
The surrounding community must endure breathing the air that is permeated with the stench of urine and feces. This causes health concerns such as asthma, burns to respiratory tracts, chronic lung disease and declines in lung function.
Factory farming goes far beyond the abuse endured by the animals and the psychological damage of the employees. It intensely effects the environment of surrounding communities.