CAFOs = Dangerous, Excess Manure Problem

The following is a Washington Post story that ran in the Sunday edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on 3/28/2010. It provides an excellent overview of a major problem with CAFO and a serious health risk to those living near CAFOs. The store also discussed the impact of politics on the control...or lack of control...of CAFO operational control.

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 1, 2010

Nearly 40 years after the first Earth Day, this is irony: The United States has reduced the man-made pollutants that left its waterways dead, discolored and occasionally flammable.

Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of mega farms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields.

That excess manure gives off air pollutants, and it is the country's fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

And it washes down with the rain, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived "dead zones" that have proliferated along the U.S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to the back ends of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

Despite its impact, manure has not been as strictly regulated as more familiar pollution problems, like human sewage, acid rain or industrial waste. The Obama administration has made moves to change that but already has found itself facing off with farm interests, entangled in the contentious politics of poop.

Read more @ Washington Post.

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