12/11/10

What's In Your Neighborhood?

Check out the interactive map on the link below...

Factory Farm Map

12/9/10

Obama: Take A Walk On The Supply Side

Talk about ditching the political liabilities on the far left, Obama has embraced the supply side economics theory. Read on...




Check out the remarks made by President Obama in Meeting with the President’s Export Council today (12/9/10):

"...The bipartisan framework that we’ve forged on taxes will not only protect working Americans from seeing a major tax increase on January 1st; it will provide businesses incentives to invest, grow and hire. And every economist that I’ve talked to or that I’ve read over the last couple of days acknowledges that this agreement would boost economic growth in the coming years and has the potential to create millions of jobs. The average American family will start 2011 knowing that there will be more money to pay the bills each month, more money to pay for tuition, more money to raise their children.

But if this framework fails, the reverse is true. Americans would see it in smaller paychecks that would have the effect of fewer jobs.

So as we meet here today to talk about one important facet of our economic strategy for the future, I urge members of Congress to move forward on this essential priority.

Now, the top priority of my administration since I took office has been to get the American people back on their feet and back on the job in the aftermath of the most devastating recession in our lifetime. That’s job one. But as I said in greater detail on Monday, we’ve also got to ask ourselves how do we position our economy to be strong, growing and competitive in the long run..."

What did Bush and Reagan do? Cut taxes and increase spending, i.e., suppy side economics.


Read more...

12/8/10

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Near Schools May Pose Asthma Risk


Children who attend school near large-scale livestock farms known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) may be at a higher risk for asthma, according to a new study by University of Iowa researchers.

The study, led by Joel Kline, M.D., professor of internal medicine in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, appears in the June issue of Chest, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians http://www.chestjournal.org/.

“Previous research has shown increased rates of asthma among children living in rural areas of Iowa and the United States,” said Kline, who also is deputy director of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC) in the UI College of Public Health, which helped fund the study. “Given that CAFOs release inflammatory substances that can affect the health of workers at these facilities and the air quality of nearby communities, we were interested in whether there was a connection between CAFOs and increased rates of asthma among kids in rural areas.”

Researchers surveyed the parents of kindergarten through fifth-grade students attending two Iowa elementary schools to compare the prevalence of asthma among students. The “study” school was located a half-mile from a CAFO in northeast Iowa; the “control” school was in east-central Iowa, more than 10 miles away from any CAFO (generally classified as a livestock facility that houses more than 1,000 animal units). Sixty-one participants responded from the study school, and 248 participants responded from the control school.

Study results indicated a significant difference in the prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma between the two schools: 12 children (19.7 percent) from the study school located near a CAFO and 18 children (7.3 percent) from the control school. The overall rate of physician-diagnosed asthma reported for Iowa is around 6.7 percent, the study authors noted.

Read more..

10/12/10

Big CAFO to Southern Wisconsin


BRADFORD TOWNSHIP — The Bradford Town Board on Tuesday will get its first look at plans for a 4,600-cow dairy on the Rock Prairie east of Janesville.

Nebraska dairy farmer Todd Tuls asked to be on the agenda for Tuesday night’s regular board meeting so he could share information about the project, Clerk Sandra Clark said.

Tuls is considering a 160-acre parcel on the northeast corner of Highway 14 and Scharine Road in far eastern Rock County.

The parcel is owned by Tom and Sue Metcalf, according to Rock County records.

If it happens, the dairy herd would be the biggest in Rock County.

Tuls is Nebraska’s biggest dairy farmer, Dairy Council of Nebraska spokeswoman Stacey Fletcher has said. He milks 10,000 cows on two sites near Shelby, Neb., about 80 miles west of Omaha, Fletcher said.

Ralph Wetmore is one Bradford Township property owner who toured Tuls’ Nebraska operation.

The size of Tuls’ barns is a little overwhelming, Wetmore said...


Read: Bradford board to hear plan for 4,600-cow dairy

http://gazettextra.com/weblogs/latest-news/2010/aug/25/large-dairy-farm-could-be-2011/

10/10/10

Dairy + Wisconsin = $$$$$$$$


"...Agriculture is a key part of Wisconsin’s economy. To be exact, Wisconsin’s farms and agricultural businesses generate $59.16 billion in economic activity and provide jobs for 353,991 people, according to a recent study conducted by University of Wisconsin-Extension based on data for 2007.

“This study clearly demonstrates agriculture’s huge role in our state’s economy and the importance of having a diverse agricultural portfolio. No other sector is so broadly based across the entire state,” says Rod Nilsestuen, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The findings show that Wisconsin agriculture contributes in a significant way to the state’s economic base despite the acute financial pressures caused by low prices for several products including milk and cheese as well as high input costs. Results indicate agriculture’s economic activity increased 14.9 percent, up from $51.5 billion, from a similar study conducted in 2004 using data for 2000..."

Read: Study: Ag contributes billions to Wisconsin’s bottom line

10/8/10

Dairy Cows & Factory Farms





Dairy cows are bred today for high milk production. For cows who are injected with Bovine Growth Hormone, their already high rate of milk production is doubled. Half of the cows in the national dairy herd are raised in intensive confinement, where they suffer emotionally from being socially deprived and being prohibited from natural behavior. Dairy cows produce milk for about 10 months after giving birth so they are impregnated continuously to keep up the milk flow. Female calves are kept to replenish the herd and male calves are usually sent to veal crates where they live a miserable existence until their slaughter. When cows become unable to produce adequate amounts of milk they are sent to slaughter so money can be made from their flesh. The cows are kept in a holding facility where they are fed, watered and have their waste removed mechanically and are allowed out only twice a day to be milked by machines.

Read Factory Farm Facts

10/6/10

Cheap food comes at high cost


CHICAGO, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers pay less for food than any others in the world, but that comes at a high price in lost jobs and health concerns, critics of "factory farms" say.

The average American spent just 9.5 percent of disposable income on food last year, a lower percentage than in any other country in the world, U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show.

Meat accounted for just 1.6 percent of that spending, with the majority of this cheap protein delivered by "factory farms" that house thousands of animals in confinement in concentrated animal feeding operations, producing mass quantities of food at low cost, the Chicago Tribune reported.

But critics say the system can create disasters like last month's recall of half a billion salmonella-tainted eggs.

The consolidation of food production has led to environmental damage, the loss of millions of small independent farms, rising healthcare expenditures and billions in tax-funded subsidies to produce cheap animal feed, they say.

"Cheap is in the eyes of the accountant," researcher Daniel Imhoff says. "Somehow we've forgotten how to add the total costs of cheap meat production to our health, environment, the loss of vibrant rural communities with lots of family farms."

Citing the recent egg recall, Imhoff says the relatively rapid consolidation of U.S. meat, poultry, egg and dairy production and processing greatly increases the potential for these "problems to spread fast and wide throughout the food system."


Source: UPI

10/4/10

The High Price Of Cheap Food


By Derek Thompson is a staff editor at TheAtlantic.com

There are a lot of reasons why obesity has taken off over the last 30 years, but one very obvious reason is that food -- especially fat food -- is so cheap:

Food is cheaper here than almost anywhere else. In 2007, only about 6.9 percent of U.S. consumer spending went for food at home; Germans spent more (11.4 percent), as did Italians (14.5 percent) and Mexicans (24.2 percent). On the other hand, low food prices may contribute to Americans' obesity. In 2006, about 34 percent of U.S. adults were judged obese, triple France's rate (10.5 percent) and four times that of Switzerland (7.7 percent)
But why is food so cheap in the United States?


As Bryan Walsh explains in this excellent TIME article, it starts with corn. American corn production has tripled in the past 40 years, from 4 billion bu. in 1970 to 12 billion. Billions of dollars of subsidies have injected steroids into corn production, and our farmers have injected chemicals into our fields -- "American farmers now produce an astounding 153 bu. of corn per acre, up from 118 as recently as 1990." Money might be scarce, but cheap food is abundant. As a result, food expenditures as a percentage of income have fallen by half in the last half-century, and obesity rates have doubled.

The cheap food revolution hasn't just given low-income families cheaper options. It's come at the expense of healthier food. A dollar today buys 1,200 calories of potato chips and 250 calories of vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit. Walsh gets it right: "it simply costs too much to be thin."


Also read What is a CFO, CAFO?

10/1/10

Chemicals & Factory Farms


Animals raised in confinement create an ideal setting for bacteria and disease to spread rapidly. Antibiotics were developed around the time of World War II and were soon adapted into the farming system. In the U.S., almost 50% of all antibiotics are administered to farm animals. These drugs form a toxic residue in animal tissue. It is much of this same tissue that is sold to consumers as food products. Each year, we see an increase in the number of salmonella poisoning cases from contaminated eggs, meat and milk. These strains of salmonella are difficult to treat because they are antibiotic resistant. Antibiotics are not the only chemicals administered to factory farm animals; many animals are fed growth-promoting hormones, appetite stimulants and pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and aflatoxins that collect in the animals' tissues and milk.

Read more Factory Farming Facts

9/29/10

Pfizer to expand genetic testing, other areas of animal health business to combat rivals


By LINDA A. JOHNSON , Associated Press

NEW YORK - Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest seller of drugs for people, now is looking to make more bucks from Fido, Fifi and farm animals.

The company is developing drugs for new animal diseases, pushing into the growing market for pet medicine in emerging markets and working with livestock farmers to use its genetic tests to reduce costs and produce top-quality meat.

Despite that strategy, Pfizer will be bumped from its position as the top animal health company by revenue when a planned joint venture of rivals gets approved by regulators, probably early next year. Merck & Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA are combining their animal health businesses into what will be called Merial-Intervet. It is expected to initially have about 28 percent of the $19 billion-a-year global animal health market...


Read more at Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Also read:
CAFOs and Public Health: The Fate of Unabsorbed Antibiotics

CAFOs and Public Health: The Issue of Antibiotic Resistance

9/27/10

Groundwater tainted by U.S. agribusiness

By Erica Gies

I recently traveled to California’s Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions the world has ever seen, and the source of much of the food that you and I eat.

Unfortunately this bounty comes at a high cost to the people who grow and harvest our food — a cost that may impact many more of us soon. The problem is groundwater pollution. Fertilizer and pesticide runoff from irrigated fields, animal waste from dairy farms and concentrated animal-feeding operations can poison drinking water.

I visited the town of Seville, which farm workers have called home for four generations. About 500 people live there now, and most adults still work in the fields. In 2008 the town’s only drinking water source tested positive for nitrates.

Nitrates are a byproduct of the nitrogen fertilizers that help American farmers bring in bumper crops. But when those crops can’t absorb all the fertilizer applied, the excess flows into groundwater via irrigation runoff. Nitrate-contaminated drinking water can poison pregnant women and babies. It inhibits a baby’s ability to absorb oxygen into its blood, which can cause it to suffocate and die. This condition is known as blue baby syndrome. Nitrate pollution has also been linked to cancer and to spleen and kidney disease...


Read more at
The Philadelphia Tribune

Also read:
The Possibility for Reducing Water Pollution Resulting from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and the Impact of Phytase

CAFOs and Public Health: Pathogens and Manure

9/26/10

Farmers Fear Dust Rules Won't Reflect Rural Life


By RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — As they begin the fall harvest, wary farmers are watching a federal debate over whether to clamp down on one of rural life's constant companions — the dust clouds that farm machinery kick up in fields and along unpaved roads.

Farming groups have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retain its current standards for dust, soot and other microscopic particles, arguing that tighter restrictions would be unworkable and that dust isn't a real pollutant.

Grain farmer Charles Schmitt, who farms about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans near the southwestern Indiana town of Haubstadt, called the possibility of tougher rules on dust "ridiculous"...

Read more...

Read: CAFOs and Community Conflict: Understanding Community Conflict

9/25/10

It Could Happen Here...

Wis. DNR: Stay away from Jackson County dam!

Sept. 24, 2010
BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The Wisconsin DNR is urging residents to use caution around a Jackson County dam that no longer has a protective barrier due to heavy rains and flooding.

The DNR says the steel cable and float markers that warn boaters near the Hatfield Dam on Lake Arbutus have washed away.

The DNR discourages boating, or any other water activities during flooding events. The water can be contaminated with pollutants, including bacteria, manure and pesticides.

The water also contains floating debris, which can be dangerous to boaters and others on the water.

9/22/10

The Curse of Factory Farms


"Factory farms have become the dominant method of raising meat in America. Agribusiness loves the apparent efficiency that comes with raising thousands of animals in a single large building where they are permanently confined in stalls or pens. Most of the human labor can be automated. It takes less land, because the animals live cheek by jowl their entire lives. And it allows the concentration of enormous stocks of animals in the hands of a few corporations whose goal is usually complete vertical integration -- the control of production from birth through butchering and packaging.

"These plants, called confined animal feeding operations, or CAFO's, now exist in 44 states. The question is how to minimize their harmful environmental effects and prevent them from putting a final squeeze on smaller farmers, especially those who raise animals in more traditional, grass-based ways.

Factory farms have taken root mainly where zoning laws were lax or nonexistent, or in states where citizens were prevented from filing suits against agricultural operations. The inevitable byproduct of huge concentrations of animals is huge concentrations of manure, which is stored in open lagoons and eventually sprayed on farmland, though there is usually far more manure than local fields can absorb. In such quantities, manure becomes a toxic substance. Spills are always a risk, as is groundwater contamination. The bigger danger is airborne contamination of water from ammonia, which rises from the lagoons and falls into low-lying rivers and estuaries..."


Read more @ New York Times

9/21/10

Come Speak Out Against Taxpayer Subsidized Factory Farm Expansion in Wisconsin!



Click here for Family Farm Defenders web site

HEAR AND BE HERD!

Come Speak Out Against Taxpayer Subsidized Factory Farm Expansion in Wisconsin!

JOIN US at the World Dairy Expo in Madison in this media event to publicize the dire situation of many family farmers in the State. The first Annual Wisconsin "Land of 10,000 Lagoon” Awards to the Worst Violators of the Public Trust and Ecological Stewardship in the State will be presented.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 4:00 P.M.

WHERE: Main Entrance to Alliant Energy Center (just off the Madison beltline on Rimrock Road/Cty MM near the corner with John Nolen Dr.)

ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND THIS DEMONSTRATION OF SUPPORT FOR WISCONSIN’S FAMILY FARMS!

To register to speak please contact:

John E. Peck , Family Farm Defenders #608-260-0900
Jennifer Nelson, Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, 608-476-2301, jenelson7@centurytel.net

Edie Ehlert, Crawford Stewardship Project, 608-734-3223, edieehlert@centurytel.net

9/20/10

Economic downturn drains Western Pennsylvania dairy farmers

"Western Pennsylvania farmers trying to earn a living raising cattle or producing milk were hurt by a plunge in exports to other states and overseas when the world economy went into recession, state agriculture experts say..."

Read more @ PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW

9/19/10

DATCP board hears budget and livestock siting concerns

Members of the board of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) heard public testimony on raw milk and livestock siting issues during the Sept. 8, 2010 board meeting in Madison....

...Raw milk and livestock siting were topics addressed by speakers during the public appearance segment of the DATCP board meeting.

John Peck, Baraboo, a raw milk advocate, wanted to address livestock siting because he was concerned about “liability and remedy.

“By taking away local control, the state assumes responsibility for cleanups resulting from abandoned livestock facilities. In Iowa when you apply for a permit you have to put money into a clean-up fund,” he said.

DATCP’s Richard Castelnuovo said the siting rule prohibits bonding. He also reminded the board that “Sept. 11, 2001, changed the bonding market.”

Board member Mike Krutza pointed out “clean up losses are often borne by lenders.”

Kara Slaughter, representing Wisconsin Farmers Union, had a six-page handout for board members that included her testimony.

While the DATCP has two committees reviewing technical standards in the siting rule, Slaughter emphasized “there is nothing in Wisconsin statute 93.90 or ATCP 51 that prohibits DATCP from reviewing the full rule in the course of this four-year review process. DATCP does not need any special grant of authority to review or revise its own rules.

“DATCP can re-do anything DATCP wrote,” she said, adding “I think the rules are at the edges of what the law does.”

Board member Dick Cates said, “It is our obligation as a board to look at all we can. After four years of learning, ironically, we may be undermining the rule because a lot of the public does not agree with the rule.”

Jennifer Nelson, Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, urged that an “independent committee study the impacts of the law and related DATCP policies on local government. These results should be compared with the standards for the rules as defined in the law and should recommend procedures to deal with those which are not covered by the technical committee.”

Board member Dick Cates said the Raw Milk Committees have two more meetings scheduled. “I believe members are coming together with a plan the legislature just might approve. It’s a hopeful process n I see a lot of coming together across the industry,” he noted.

Source: Agri-View:read more...

9/18/10

Iowans to DNR: Just Say No To Scott County Factory Farm

We are witnessing a massive recall of eggs infected with salmonella - eggs produced from factory farms right here in Iowa. I am not surprised.

Our lawmakers say that we can't afford to put an end to the factory farm industry here in Iowa, but I know we taxpayers really can't afford the health risks, the polluted air, or the polluted water. I know we certainly can't afford to continue covering for factory farm screwups on the taxpayer dime or giving them tax breaks so they can afford to ruin our quality of life.

It's time for lawmakers to stop kowtowing to the factory farm industry and stand up for the voters by passing strict regulations of factory farms now - before we have another outbreak of disease on our hands.

Lori Nelson
Bayard, Iowa
Letter to the Editor
Des Moines Register

9/16/10

rBGH, Dairy Cows & You


Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also called recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), is a drug that is injected into cows to increase their milk production. Developed by the agricultural company Monsanto and approved for commercial use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, by 2000 it had become the largest selling pharmaceutical product in the history of the dairy industry. RBGH has never been approved for commercial use in Canada or the European Union due to concerns about the drug‚ impact on animal health. The artificial hormone‚ known side effects include increased udder infections and reproductive problems in cows. Notably, a growing body of scientific research also suggests a link between drinking rBGH-treated milk and certain types of cancer in humans...

Read rBGH: How Artificial Hormones Damage the Dairy Industry and Endanger Public Health

9/14/10

Consolidation and Price Manipulation in the Dairy Industry


Read the fact sheet on Consolidation and Price Manipulation in the Dairy Industry at Food & Water Watch

9/12/10

Iowa: Cattle Factory Farm Forced To Request Extension After DNR Raises Concerns About Operation

"If built, the cattle factory farm would potentially be the largest in the state, finishing 9,500-head of cattle a year, consuming more than 200,000 gallons of water every day, and producing more than 11 million gallons of manure every year inside the already impaired Mud Creek, Wapsipinicon, and Mississippi watersheds."

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI)members call on DNR to deny construction permit immediately

Davenport, Iowa -

Factory farm developer Bryan Sievers' July 26 request to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) for a 30-day extension for a review of a construction permit for a proposed cattle factory farm in Scott County should not be granted, and the DNR should immediately deny the permit application because it is incomplete and because the 60-day time frame for a decision expired on August 2, Iowa CCI members said Tuesday.

Mr. Sievers requested a 30-day extension on July 26 after the DNR wrote a three page letter July 16 raising major concerns about more than 20 different items on the construction permit application. Copies of both letters are enclosed here and here. (PDF documents)

"The DNR has validated Iowa CCI members' concerns that Scott County should have never voted to recommend approval for this factory farm," said Jen Broders, an Iowa CCI member and farmer from Stockton who lives a few miles from the proposed site. "The developer has failed to prove his claim, the 60 day time frame has expired, and the Iowa DNR should immediately deny the construction permit for this site."

If built, the cattle factory farm would potentially be the largest in the state, finishing 9,500-head of cattle a year, consuming more than 200,000 gallons of water every day, and producing more than 11 million gallons of manure every year inside the already impaired Mud Creek, Wapsipinicon, and Mississippi watersheds.


Read more at Blog foe Iowa

9/10/10

No Minimum Wage; No Overtime

Immigrant laborers, many of them here illegally, have begun to dominate the work force of the dairy industry and their presence is having a profound effect on some rural communities in Wisconsin.

A recent article from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism cites a study that estimates 40 percent of the dairy work force is made up of Latino workers. And this number will likely expand as dairy farms get larger.

And while Latino dairy farmers generally make about a $1 less per hour than their white counterparts, many of the farmers in the article cite the dependability of the workers as a reason why they seek them out. Farmers tell stories of having to scramble to cover for non-Latino workers who don't show up for early weekend shifts.
In the Wisconsin State Journal story linked to this post another farmer says that of the 300 employees who applied for jobs at his dairy farm in the last ten years, only 5 were non-Latinos.

It appears that milking cows, ankle-deep in cow manure, at 5 a.m., is a job that most Americans simply don't want to do, and as a city slicker, I don't blame them. But somebody has to milk the cows.

We need a guest worker program that will allow the folks who are willing to milk to come here legally and do a job that otherwise wouldn't get done.


Read more Wisconsin State Journal

9/8/10

Clean Wisconsin: Landmark water quality rules approved as of September 8

Innovative "phosphorus rules" and NR 151 herald a new future for cleaner waters in Wisconsin, are the first of their kind in the U.S.

When a farm applies too much manure onto farm fields, it can easily be washed into rivers and lakes by rain or melting snow; manure contains both harmful bacteria, like E. coli, and phosphorus...


MADISON — As summer comes to a close, Wisconsin is headed for cleaner waters come Wednesday, Sept. 8., thanks to innovation and cooperation from unlikely groups. That day marks the passage of a set of state rules, NR 102 and 217 (the "phosphorus rules") and NR 151, to address algae-forming phosphorus pollution in our waterways.

"For 30 years, phosphorus has been under-regulated, contaminating nearly half our lakes, rivers and streams, and marring Wisconsin's reputation for clean, clear waters, " says Melissa Malott, Clean Wisconsin’s water program director and attorney. Malott was on the DNR’s advisory committee for the phosphorus rules and publicly commented on NR 151. "Wisconsin is the first state to offer an adaptive, customizable rule package for improving water quality; together, these rules are pioneering a new, cleaner future for our water while staying true to the Clean Water Act."

These rules address the main water quality problems — phosphorus and manure runoff — affecting Wisconsinites' ability to use our waterways for fishing and swimming.


Read more at WisBusiness.com

9/7/10

The Evolution of Factory Farms

Our society is showered with images of happy animals living on farms where the cows graze in lush green fields and the chickens have the run of the barnyard. This vision of free-roaming animals living out their days in sunny fields is very far from the reality. A majority of the animals that are raised for food live miserable lives in intensive confinement in dark, overcrowded facilities, commonly called "factory farms."

Factory farming began in the 1920s soon after the discovery of vitamins A and D; when these vitamins are added to feed, animals no longer require exercise and sunlight for growth. This allowed large numbers of animals to be raised indoors year-round. The greatest problem that was faced in raising these animals indoors was the spread of disease, which was combated in the 1940s with the development of antibiotics. Farmers found they could increase productivity and reduce the operating costs by using mechanization and assembly-line techniques.

Unfortunately, this trend of mass production has resulted in incredible pain and suffering for the animals. Animals today raised on factory farms have had their genes manipulated and pumped full of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals to encourage high productivity. In the food industry, animals are not considered animals at all; they are food producing machines. They are confined to small cages with metal bars, ammonia-filled air and artificial lighting or no lighting at all. They are subjected to horrible mutilations: beak searing, tail docking, ear cutting and castration. Even the most minimum humane standards proposed are thwarted by the powerful food conglomerates.

Read more...

8/26/10

Children of Democracy, Listen Up!

"... this democracy is not something that we have, it's something that we do. And if we don't do it, we lose it."

Granny D

"You cannot say to yourself, "I can't do anything about this,' because you can. You have power. You have power that you don't even know you have. It's there, you could be using it. If you can become a member of a group that's working for clean elections in your state, I honor you. I bless you. Because my vision is that if enough states pass clean election bills, that a critical mass will form. It will go federal."

Granny D


(PS: I just might work for fighting against factory farms invading your neighborhood...)

8/23/10

Explore the work of John E. Ikerd

John E. Ikert is professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is a powerful advocate fighting against factory farms and agribusiness. His website has links of many useful papers and websites to help you better understand cafos.

Check out his website: John E. Ikert

8/20/10

Taxpayer Funded Factory Farms...

Here's an interesting study that gives you at look at how your tax dollars are being used to run the factory farms in your neighborhood.


Read Industrial Livestock at the Taxpayer Through.

Check out Inmotion Magazine.

8/17/10

Chain Gang... of Life

“If the honeybee goes, we have four more years to live on Earth.”

Albert Einstein


Our modern agribusiness has created great challenges for the honeybee:

- Monocultures, with an increasing amount of genetically altered plants

- The elimination of what we call “weeds,” which are often critically important bits of forage with great healing potential

- The general poisoning of our fields and landscape with all the killing agents at our disposal: insecticides, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides

All of these practices weaken the resistance of the honeybee and make her prey to pests and diseases.

G√ľnter Hauk
The Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary

8/14/10

Brakes Being Applied To Ohio Factory Farms



WEST MANSFIELD, Ohio — Concessions by farmers in this state to sharply restrict the close confinement of hens, hogs and veal calves are the latest sign that so-called factory farming — a staple of modern agriculture that is seen by critics as inhumane and a threat to the environment and health — is on the verge of significant change.

A recent agreement between farmers and animal rights activists here is a rare compromise in the bitter and growing debate over large-scale, intensive methods of producing eggs and meat, and may well push farmers in other states to give ground, experts say. The rising consumer preference for more “natural” and local products and concerns about pollution and antibiotic use in giant livestock operations are also driving change...

Read more at the New York Times.

8/6/10

The Road That Led Us To CAFOs...

"...CAFOs are said to be an efficient cost effective farming system, and they are – if one ignores the cost to the environment, animals living in unnatural conditions, potential for pollution and possible human health concerns. They are necessary only as long as we demand large amounts of grain-fed meat, dairy and eggs. If cheap food is the only priority, they meet the challenge. Most consumers happily hunt for bargains never questioning the production practices that made the bargains, bargains.

So really, consumers asked for CAFOs, they wanted cheap food, and they weren't all that concerned where it came from. If that idea bothers you, start learning about how food is produced, where and by whom. Farmers will operate CAFOs only as long as consumers choose to buy what the CAFO produces."


Read more of CAFO consumers by Jim Goodman at Fighting Bob.

8/4/10

True Farmers...

"True farmers...have minds that are complex and responsible. They understand that their fundamental resource is not acreage and capital, but a home place that is healthful and fertile. They want to conserve their land and improve it. They farm with both plants and animals. They understand and honor their debts to nature. They understand and honor their obligations to neighbors and consumers. They understand and respect the land's need to be protected from washing. They are friends of trees and grass. Their thinking is all about conserving and connecting, husbandry and artistry..."

Wendell Berry



7/28/10

Industrial Ag...A One Track Mind

“…Agri-industrialists run cotton factories or sugar factories or grain factories or meet factories or milk factories or egg factories. These factories have four outstanding characteristics:

- They depend entirely on industrial machinery and chemicals.
- They depend entirely on cheap fossil fuel, which is why they are temporary. While they still depend upon them, they are already relics.
- They treat organisms (this is to say creatures: plants and animals, living beings) as machines.
- They are highly specialized.

Animal factories do not grow plants. Plants factories don not grow animals. Animal factories produce, in additional to meat, manure – which far from the cropland where the feed is produced, becomes a dangerous pollutant. Plant factories, having no animals and therefore no manure and therefore lacking in health, are dependent on large quantities of fertilizers and other chemicals, which are dangerous pollutants.

But the most dangerous pollutant issuing from the agri-industrial enterprise is the radically oversimplified agri-industrial mind. This mind assumes that it is all right to produce stuff by using up stuff, that it is all right to “externalize” all ecological and social costs, that health is never an issue except when and if regulations are enforced by government and that all relationships and connections, causes and effects, are somebody else’s business…”


Wendell Berry
Being Kind to the Land
Progressive: February 2009


7/26/10

Iowa’s factory farms smell toxic

My family took a vacation in Iowa. The rolling hills and views were stupendous, the air was toxic. We had to keep car windows rolled up. When I wanted to roll down the windows my kids would beg “No! Please mom!” We tried, but then factory farm buildings would be in the distance, or we would smell factory farm stench without ever seeing them, my kids would scream, “Roll up the windows, hurry, mom!”

What should have been an enjoyable vacation turned into a look-out for factory farm buildings, that’s what my sons will remember most.
Now I hear the Iowa DNR is considering approving a construction permit to build Iowa’s largest cattle factory farm in Scott County. Great goodness what is DNR Director Rich Leopold thinking? He knows how devastating factory farms are to the water and land.

Iowa DNR’s mission is to protect water and land. Nothing supersedes this mandate! Not the promise of jobs or green-washing or cheaper food.

If built, this 9,500-head cattle factory farm will consume over 200,000 gallons of water a day and produce over 11 million gallons of toxic manure a year. With over 700 manure spills and a growing list of impaired waterways in Iowa, it’s too dangerous to allow construction of a giant cattle factory farm in the already impaired Mud Creek, Wapsipinicon and Mississippi River watersheds. I hope to vacation in Iowa again with the windows down. I hope the Iowa DNR will deny this cattle factory farm a construction permit.


Rachel Griffiths
Letter to the editor
Quad City Times

7/24/10

Experts predict little robots will roam the fields

“I think farms in general are going to get larger, I don’t think there is any question that to keep up economically, the 30-cow herd and running cash crops on a few acres just doesn’t cut it anymore. Farms are going to have to get larger. I am not saying factory farms, or anything like that. It will be family farms.”

Dick Wolkowski
UW Extension Service


"RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Agriculture of the future will be “Star Trek” meets “Green Acres.”

Experts predict that within 25 years little robots will roam fields zapping weeds, testing soil and turning plant genes on and off to fit the conditions, a bit like mechanical helpers on the starship Enterprise. At the same time, some Americans will continue to feel a need to work the land, and smell the soil, while bouncing up and down on a tractor seat, as Oliver Wendell Douglas did on the farm comedy.

Farmers in recent years have embraced global positioning systems to better grow crops. They use computers and satellites better than many of the country’s biggest corporations. Dairy farmers are beginning to use robotic milking machines..."


Read more at the Grand Forks Herald.

7/22/10

It Just Ain't Natural


"...On a factory farm, nature is too likely to be an adversary of the farmer, because such a farm is too much an adversary of nature. Nature responds with diseases, weeds, pests, and gullies which, in the process of damaging or destroying the farmer, enrich the suppliers of chemicals, machinery, fuel and credit. Only with grass, with pastures, can nature enter farming fairly dependably as an ally of the farmer..."

Wendell Berry

7/20/10

Make Farming More Sustainable

"If farmers are going to meet future demands, the U.S. agriculture system has to evolve to become sustainable and think broadly — past the bottom line of producing the most possible."

Julia Kornegay
Department of Horticultural Science
North Carolina State University




"CHAMPAIGN, Ill.— American farmers are producing more food than ever, but agricultural research is too focused on increasing production and needs to do better at considering consequences such as water and air pollution, according to a report issued Tuesday by a federal advisory group.


The National Academies' National Research Council report found that farmers are being asked to produce more and more food to sustain the world's population, but with little focus beyond how many bushels of grain or pounds of vegetables or meat they can generate..."


Read more at US News.

7/19/10

Pierce County Farm Technology Days July 20-22, 2010


Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is the largest agriculture exposition in Wisconsin--a three-day outdoor event that showcases the latest improvements in production agriculture. Each year, it is held in a different Wisconsin county--on a different host family farm.
Click here for a schedule and more info.

7/16/10

Legislators Favor Campaign Contributors Over Safe Water

Madison - A proposal to reduce incidents of drinking water being polluted by manure was rejected by legislators because a small group of large agribusiness interests, who complained the rules were too strict, have spent nearly $916,000 on legislative elections since 2000, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says.
The proposal, which was rejected at an August 3 hearing by the Senate and Assembly Agriculture committees, would have regulated manure spreading by the state’s 150 large factory farms that have 700 or more animals. The spreading of large amounts of animal waste, particularly on frozen ground, has been the source of more than four dozen incidents of well contamination and fish kills over the past two years.

One incident seriously sickened a Luxemburg family with three small children. In another case earlier this year, animal waste was blamed for contaminating more than six dozen wells in the Brown County Town of Morrison so badly that some residents said their tap water smelled like manure. The state is paying tens of thousands of dollars to help residents dig new wells, but environmentalists argue the new wells could be polluted in a short time without regulations to control future manure spreading...


Read more about “Here’s manure in your water” at Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

7/12/10

Dane County Helps Farm Grow Herd

"An economic development loan from Dane County and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce will help a dairy farm in the Town of Vienna expand, County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today. The $175,000 loan ($87,500 each from Dane County’s Revolving Loan Fund for Economic Development and the State Department of Commerce) will help the White Gold Dairy purchase 350 new cows.

“Our county is not only the fastest growing by population in the state, but it’s also among the top counties in milk production,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said. “Agriculture is a $3-billion dollar a year part of our county’s economy and it’s important we help farmers continue to do what they do best - put the highest quality products on our kitchen tables.”

To accommodate the new cows, the farm is planning an expansion including construction of a new 350 cow free stall barn and adding more stalls in their milking parlor. The farm will also construct a new nine-million gallon lagoon and a 60x125 foot bunker silo with runoff controls. The total cost of the expansion is around $2.4 million.

In addition to construction laborers, the expansion will add four new permanent jobs at the farm to help with milking the additional cows..."


Read more at WisBusiness.

7/10/10

Farmers Face a Big Stinking Mess

According to the EPA, "Wastes from large factory farms are among the greatest threats to our nation's waters and drinking water supplies."

There's nothing new here. Here is some historical perspective on the issues with manure runoff.



"...Tons of manure are stored outdoors to be used eventually for fertilizer. Not only does the stuff seep into water supplies, it also smells horrible. (One Minnesota tax assessor factors in a property's proximity to CAFOs when setting market values--locals have dubbed it the "smell-location chart.")..."

Read more at Fortune.

7/6/10

Dairy Farm Manure Spill Threatens Environment and Public Health

A manure lagoon in an upstate New York dairy farm burst, creating an environmental disaster and killing hundreds of thousands of fish in nearby Black River. The spill occurred when one of the earthen walls in a manure lagoon on the property collapsed, depositing 3 million gallons of liquid manure into the river.

"...Even without a manure spill, factory farm excrement can poison the water. The intensive confinement of thousands to hundreds of thousands of animals results in quantities of manure that often exceed the soil's absorption rate. When the soil is saturated with higher levels of nutrients than can be absorbed, the result is runoff leading to potentially serious ground and water pollution.

Runoff that reaches the water can cause eutrophication, in which an increase in mineral and organic nutrients depletes the water of oxygen. The ensuing overgrowth of algae and other marine plants competes with fish for oxygen, creating an environment in which plant life thrives while animal life suffers.

Factory farm animal manure also threatens air quality. During decomposition, noxious levels of gases, such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, are emitted, putting workers and nearby residents at risk of developing a number of acute and chronic illnesses. Studies have shown that those who live near factory farms are more likely to suffer from a range of medical problems, including diarrhea, sore throat, cough, chest tightness, nasal congestion, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sudden fatigue, headaches, nausea, sudden loss of consciousness, comas, seizures, and, ultimately, even death..."


Read more of Marks Dairy Farm Manure Spill Threatens Environment and Public Health at the Humane Society.

CAFOs need to go beyond historic solutions for manure management

by David Bossman

Let’s not make any bones about it: We have a critical need to solve what is becoming a manure crisis in America. I’d like to show that by solving this problem, we can save America by restoring the economic viability of our rural communities.

America’s rural communities are becoming increasingly inhospitable toward livestock production. As a result, more and more of our nation’s meat, milk and egg producers are seeking communities that value and welcome them, instead of resisting their growth and income-producing potential.

We all know that there has been significant movement in animal production in the past 10 years. Many state and local zoning restrictions now prohibit the construction or expansion of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The result is that this not only increases the CAFO size in the areas which accept them, but it also threatens the entire US animal feeding industry because many foreign countries are aggressively pursuing large-scale animal production.

CAFOs have a poor public perception. They are viewed as a factory-type of feeding, implying poor animal well-being practices. They are perceived—and I emphasize the term perceived—to be large corporate ownerships, instead of family-based farms, that use poor animal husbandry, thereby causing the use of high levels of antibiotics. And, finally, they are seen to produce large amounts of animal manure with unpleasant odor.

At this point, the historical solutions are no longer acceptable or applicable. CAFOs have too much manure to spread as fertilizer on neighboring land, and spreading manure can exacerbate the odor perception problem. And with today’s rural population becoming less and less involved in agriculture, the neighbors are no longer part of the animal production tradition.

Animal production operations have evolved in size and scope, from small family farms to the very large producers of today. CAFOs, an entirely new animal agriculture entity, have significantly impacted the method of animal protein production. Livestock production is frequently unprofitable unless a significant volume of scale can be achieved.

High volume, efficient producers are faced with numerous local, state and federal rules and mounting negative community attitudes. The overwhelming reason rural dwellers do not want livestock production in their communities is the odor from the manure. Yes, it smells, and in large volumes it can smell an awful lot!

Most of manure research has been in the area of fertilizer utilization even though using manure for fertilizer can exacerbate the odor situation within the community. There have been numerous research projects related to animal waste or manure. Land grant universities have built entire departments researching animal manure. Most of the research has focused on determining the effectiveness or value that manure has for fertilizer or plant food, or simply how to dispose of it as a solid waste. Research also has been conducted to determine the nutritional value of manure to be used as livestock feed.

A lot of research has been done regarding the use of lagoons to store manure. A significant body of research also has been conducted for odor control in various ways, including adding chemicals and blending. That said, however, the problem is getting worse instead of better.

Everyone in the ag industry should know the problems of animal manure and even the reasons why the problem exists. Now we must focus on the solutions. The solutions aren’t all that hard to identify; we know that if all manure had the odor of freshly baked bread, the problem would not exist. The negative attitudes toward high density animal production would disappear. However, there is little chance that even the best researchers could make that happen. So we need new solutions.

Animal nutritionists are finding, and will continue to find the perfect diet, one that will maintain maximum production or growth with little or no waste. That, too, is some years away. Therefore our challenge, your challenge, is to make the existing animal waste more transportable, less odor offensive and to find high
value uses.

Technology has created changes in animal agriculture. It gave us mechanical technology which allowed larger operations to operate at lower cost. Technology also improved genetics, allowing faster and more efficient growth. Technology also afforded superior animal nutrition, which enhances genetics. It is now time for technology to solve one of the critical problems it has also created. Because CAFOs are the lowest cost animal production method, technology has to solve the CAFO problem of too much manure in too small a space.

Examples of new applied technology include using manure as industrial feedstock for production of geo-textiles and geo-plastics or industrial adhesives. These uses will improve the environment by keeping manure off ground water.

Finding non-fertilizer uses for animal waste is critical to the continued long-term animal protein production in the United States. We’ll look at some of these other uses in the next issue of Manure Manager.

David Bossman is past president of the American Feed Industry Association.

Source: Manure Manager

7/5/10

Appeals Court Strikes Down Conditions for Megafarm

"The decision leaves residents at the mercy of industrialized farms."

June 28, 2010
MADISON — A south-central Wisconsin town overstepped when local officials imposed water quality conditions on a giant farm's permit, a state appeals court ruled last week.

Larson Acres Inc., had asked the Town of Magnolia in Rock County for permission to expand operations to 1,500 animal units, according to the opinion. A thousand animal units is equivalent to about 700 cows.

The town granted a permit but included conditions requiring the farm to minimize nutrient run-off and allow well water tests.

A state review board invalidated the conditions, but Rock County Circuit Judge James Welker upheld them.

The 4th District Court of Appeals reversed Welker. The court agreed with the review board that the town acted outside the process set out in state siting standards when it applied the conditions.

Larson Acres attorney Eric McLeod said the decision reaffirms state standards trump local regulations, adding state standards lend predictability to the permit process.

Town attorney Glenn Reynolds called the decision "very disappointing." He said the appeals court ignored the need for clean water.

Peter McKeever, an attorney for neighbors who sued in support of the town, says the decision leaves residents at the mercy of industrialized farms.


Source:
Green Bay Press Gazette

7/4/10

Wisconsin: Land of 10,000 Waste Lagoons?

"Can you imagine tourists driving up to Door County and having to endure the stench from manure lagoons produced by factory farms?"

John Peck
Executive Director
Family Farm Defenders



"...The emerging food system is based increasingly on factory farms or "confined animal feeding operations" (CAFOs). These often entail the heavy use of antibiotics to ward off the diseases that proliferate when thousands of animals are penned up in confined spaces.

Critics say the system produces vast lagoons of animal waste and sometimes toxic gases. It displaces small family farms with food produced under industrial conditions. And it relies on legions of low-wage laborers..."


Read The Fight Against Factory Farms In Wisconsin at Isthmus: The Daily Page.

7/2/10

The Small Town and the Factory Farm

From what I've been reading and hearing about what happens when these factory farms move into an area, there isn't much good news. You always tell yourself it will be different around here. Will it?


"...Through the years, I keep complaining publicly, writing letters to the editor, going to city hall meetings, still wearing my pin. But I have paid the price, as have others. Some have received letters of intent to sue; some have had a crushed turtle dumped in their driveway. I used to order firewood to heat my home: I've had to stop, because the last time I received my load, it was covered with smelly liquid pig manure. I had to wait for months before I could get near enough to stack it. On a call-in radio show, my husband said that pig farms should be inspected more often, more severely controlled: next day, we had 2 used pig artificial inseminators dumped on the street in front of our home. Children walking by were playing with them: I shudder at the thought of the illnesses they could have contracted that morning..."

Read more of The Small Town and the Factory Farm at OnEarth magazine.