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CAFOs The livestock industry including poultry is vital to our national economy supplying meat milk eggs and other animal products and providing meaningful employment in rural communities. Until recently food animal production was integrated with crop production in a balanced way that was generally benecial to farmers and society as a whole. But livestock production has undergone a transfor- mation in which a small number of very large CAFOs predominate. These CAFOs have imposed signicantbut largely unaccounted forcosts on taxpayers and communities throughout the United States. CAFOsarecharacterizedbylargenumbersofanimalscrowdedintoaconned spacean unnatural and unhealthy condition that concentrates too much manure in too small an area. Many of the costly problems caused by CAFOs can be attrib- uted to the storage and disposal of this manure and the overuse of antibiotics in livestock to stave off disease. CAFOsToo big for our own good Most of the problems caused by CAFOs result from their excessive size and crowded conditions. CAFOs contain at least 1000 large animals such as beef cows or tens of thousands of smaller animals such as chickens and many are much largerwith tens of thousands of beef cows or hogs and hundreds of thousands of chickens. The problems that arise from excessive size and density e.g. air and water pollutionfrommanureoveruseofantibioticsareexacerbatedbytheparalleltrend ofgeographicconcentrationwherebyCAFOsforparticulartypesoflivestockhave become concentrated in certain parts of the country. For example large numbers of swine CAFOs are now located in Iowa and North Carolina dairy CAFOs in California and broiler chicken CAFOs in Arkansas and Georgia. We need to be concerned about these excessively large feeding operations because they have become the predominant means of producing meat and dairy products in this country over the past few decades. Although they comprise only about 5 percent of all U.S. animal operations CAFOs now produce more than 50 percent of our food animals. They also produce about 65 percent of the manure fromU.S.animaloperationsorabout300milliontonsperyearmorethandouble the amount generated by this countrys entire human population. For the purposes of this report there are approximately 9900 U.S. CAFOs producing hogs dairy cows beef cows broiler chickens or laying hens. Better options exist CAFOs do not represent the only way of ensuring the availability of food at reasonable prices. Recent studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA show that almost 40 percent of medium-sized animal feeding operations are about as cost-effective as the average large hog CAFO and many other studies have providedsimilarresults.Medium-sizedandsmalleroperationsalsoavoidorreduce many of the external costs that stem from CAFOs. If CAFOs are not appreciably more efficient than small and mid-sized opera- tions why are they supplanting smaller farms The answers lie largely in farm policies that have favored large operations. CAFOs have relied on cheap inputs water energy and especially feed to support the high animal densities that offset these operations high xed costs such as buildings. Feed accounts for about 60 percent of the costs of producing hogs and chickens and is also an important cost for dairy and beef cows and federal policies have encouraged the production of inexpensive grain that benets CAFOs. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations CAFOs Red Cliff Bad River tribes say no Bayfield CountyWis.Aproposal by Iowa-based ReikesView Farming to locate a CAFO housing over 20000 pigs in Bayfield County caught the attention of many citizens in the region over potential issues of environmental degradation. Both the Bad River and Red Cliff Tribes have passed resolutions in opposi- tion to the proposal. Red Cliffs resolution sums it up as follows WHEREAS the negative implications and risks brought to communities and landscapes by allowance of CAFOs surpasses the damages we are willing to incur to water quality human health economic vitality of the tourist sector diversified small-scale local agriculture soil quality and treaty protected fishing and hunting grounds NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa stands in opposition to the allowance of concentrated animal feeding operations on the Red Cliff Reservation in Bayfield County and in all the territory in which the Lake Superior Chippewa retain Treaty Rights as reserved under Treaties of 1837 1842 and 1854. Bayfield County Board placed a one-year moratorium on CAFOs during a February Board meeting but there is debate as to whether it would apply to Reikes proposal because it came after the proposal was submitted. Meanwhile the company has also approached the Iron County Board with interest in several sites within the county. Below are excerpts reprinted with permission from the Executive Summary of a 2008 report on CAFOs issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists. A link to the full report can be found at httpwww.ucsusa.orgsitesdefaultfileslegacy assetsdocumentsfood_and_agriculturecafos-uncovered.pdf While the report scrutinizes numerous issues with CAFOs it importantly includes suggestions for other viable more humane and environmentally friendly options for raising food. Sue Erickson CAFOs uncovered The untold costs of confined animal feeding operations Perhapsevenmoreimportanthasbeentheconcentrationofmarketpowerinthe processing industry upon which animal farmers depend.This concentration allows meat processors to exert considerable economic control over livestock producers often in the form of production contracts and animal ownership. The resulting captive supply can limit market access for independent smaller producers since the large majority of livestock are either owned by processors or acquired under contractandprocessorstypicallydonotcontractwithsmallerproducers.Federal government watchdogs have stated that the agency responsible for ensuring that markets function properly for smaller producers is not up to the task. Hoop barns and smart pasture operations Although there is evidence that connement operations smaller than CAFOs can be cost-effective and produce ample animal products studies also suggest that sophisticated alternative means of producing animal products hold even greater promise. For example hog hoop barns which are healthier for the animals and much smaller than CAFOs can produce comparable or even higher prots per unit at close to the same price. Research in Iowa the major hog-producing state has also found that raising hogs on pasture may produce animals at a lower cost than CAFOs. Other studies have shown that smart pasture operations such as managed intensive rotational grazing can produce milk at a cost similar to conned dairy operations but with added environmental benets. Properlymanagedpasturesforexamplerequirelessmaintenanceandenergy than the feed crops such as corn and soybeans on which CAFOs rely. Healthy pasturesarealsolesssusceptibletoerosioncancapturemoreheat-trappingcarbon dioxide than feed crops and absorb more of the nutrients applied to them thereby contributing less to water pollution. Furthermore the manure deposited by ani- mals onto pasture produces about six to nine times less volatilized ammoniaan important air pollutantthan surface-applied manure from CAFOs. The Many Hidden Costs of CAFOs Water pollution from manure Disposal of CAFO manure on an insufficient amount of land results in the runoff and leaching of waste into surface and groundwater which has contami- nated drinking water in many rural areas and the volatilization of ammonia i.e. the transfer of this substance from manure into the atmosphere. Several manure lagoons have also experienced catastrophic failures sending tens of millions of gallons of raw manure into streams and estuaries and killing millions of sh. Smaller but more numerous spills cause substantial losses as well. Remediation of the leaching under dairy and hog CAFOs in Kansas has been projected to cost taxpayers 56 millionand Kansas is not one of the countrys top dairy- or hog-producing states. Based on these data a rough estimate of the total cost of cleaning up the soil under U.S. hog and dairy CAFOs could approach 4.1 billion. The two primary pollutants from manure nitrogen and phosphorus can cause eutrophication the proliferation and subsequent death of aquatic plant life that robs freshwater and marine environments of the oxygen that fish and many other aquatic organisms need to survive. For example runoff and leaching from animal sources including CAFOs is believed to contribute about 15 percent of the nutrient pollution that reaches the Gulf of Mexico where a large dead zonedevoid of fish and commercially important seafood such as shrimphas developed. CAFO manure also contributes to similar dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay another important source of fish and shellfish and other important estuaries along the East Coast. Chesapeake Bays blue crab industry which had a dockside value of about 52 million in 2002 has declined drastically in recent years along with other important catches partly due to the decline in water quality caused in part by CAFOs. Swine in a CAFO. www.epa.govregion7watercafoimageshogssm2.jpg See CAFOs uncovered page 22 MAZINAIGAN PAGE 16 SUMMER 2015