We Borrow It From Future Generations...

"Forging and maintaining a sustainable society is The Challenge for this and all generations to come. At this point in history, no nation has managed to evolve into a sustainable society. We are all pursuing a self-destructive course of fueling our economies by drawing down our natural capital -- that is to say, by degrading and depleting our resource base -- and counting it on the income side of the ledger. This obviously is not a sustainable situation over the long term.”

Senator Gaylord Nelson


Guess Who's Looking Out For The Children?

"Samantha Treml, 5, became ill when she was 6 months old after the well at her home was polluted with bacteria that her mother believes came from a dairy. Her mother, Judy Treml, at right, said she watched from the front window of her home as a farmer spread manure over a frozen, snow-covered field across the road. The waste ran off with the melted snow when the field thawed, into natural fissures that eventually lead to her well, she said."

Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times

Read Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling E.P.A. at the NY Times


ALERT: EPA to take new look at permits for CAFOs

The Environmental Protection Agency will publish a guidance document this week that will spell out which CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) must apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). EPA agreed to publish the new guidance as part of a legal settlement with three environmental groups – the Waterkeepers Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council – who challenged the final CAFO rule published in 2008, during the Bush Administration.

Under the settlement agreement, announced on May 26, EPA will provide new guidance to agencies – usually within states – that issue CAFO permit no later than May 28, 2010. The guidance will specify “the kinds of operations and factual circumstances that EPA anticipates may trigger the duty to apply for permits as discharging or proposing to discharge.” The settlement agreement calls for EPA to propose a rule by May 26, 2011 requiring all CAFOs to submit information to EPA detailing information about their operations including: their location, the location of their integrator (if a contract operation), their animal population, manure storage, land application practices, manure transfers, and other information – including whether or not they’ve applied for an NPDES permit.

The guidance is apparently a first step in tightening the CAFO rule. The three environmental groups who challenged it, wrote in a statement, EPA’s 2008 CAFO rule, “effectively exempted thousands of factory farms from taking steps to minimize water pollution…under this rule, massive facilities were able to escape government regulation by claiming – without government verification – that they do not discharge into waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.”

Comment from the EPA was not immediately available.



Panel will review livestock (CAFO) siting rule

The Wisconsin Livestock Facility Siting Law called “the envy of the CAFO industry nationwide” has effectively:

-Paved the way for rapid expansion of increasingly large and concentrated livestock operations

-Stripped local governments of much of their traditional authority to control land use while burdening them with an incredibly complex and contentious licensing scheme

-Made it difficult for citizens to protect their communities from the risk of water and air pollution

Read more @ Crawford Stewardship Project

By Jim Massey
Editor of The Country Today

MADISON - A technical committee will be appointed to evaluate the state's livestock siting standards and determine if changes are needed, the state agriculture department's citizen board determined May 12.

The Wisconsin Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Board listened to more than two hours of public testimony before voting to appoint an expert committee to review the standards in ATCP 51, known as the livestock facility siting law. The board didn't decide what to do about policy questions related to livestock siting, but said it would review the topic in June when the full board should be in attendance. Three board members were absent from the May 12 meeting...

Read more @ The Country Today

For more on the siting law review, read
Nilsestuen to Reconvene Livestock Siting Study Panel @ Wisconsin Ag Connection.


Maybe Hazardous To Your Health

"...Farming has evolved to this, it's gotten big, it's gotten very dependent on fossil fuel and if you live next to a CAFO, it has gotten very smelly. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that if you work on or live near a CAFO it has gotten potentially hazardous to your health as well...

...Specialized manure holding facilities are required, but due to the large volumes produced, heavy rain, snow, storage leaks or improper handling, CAFOs create a very real potential for big manure spills. Thousands of animals, millions of gallons of manure and you could be asking for problems. According to the CDC, manure can contain pollutants such as antibiotics, pathogens, nitrates, pesticides, hormones, trace elements and heavy metals, none of them good, especially if they enter the drinking water. In May 2000 an e-coli contamination of the municipal water system of Walkerton, Ontario, killed seven and sickened thousands. It was traced to manure runoff..."

Read more at Fighting Bob.


Factory Farming Impacts

Wisconsin is in the grip of major agricultural changes, as we lose farmland to sprawl and many small farmers are driven out of business. The remaining farmland is being consolidated into huge industrial operations housing thousands of animals.

The huge scale of the new farms is out of proportion to the rural areas where they are sited, which degrades the quality of life for most everyone around them. Whether its cows, hogs, chickens or turkeys - their high numbers can seem intolerable to neighbors.

Read more at Clean Water Action Council.

Also checkout:
Midwest Environmental Advocates.


The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness

“In recent decades,previously unknown diseases have surfaced at a pace unheard of in the recorded annals of medicine: more than 30 newly identified human pathogens in 30 years, most of them newly discovered zoonotic viruses...(Zoonotic viruses are those that can be passed from animals to humans.)...Factory farms represent the most significant change in the lives of animals in 10,000 years. This is not how animals were supposed to live.”

Dr. Michael Greger
Author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching

By Laura Sayre

"The situation is akin to that surrounding global climate change four or five years ago: near-universal scientific consensus matched by government inaction and media inattention. Although the specter of pandemic flu — in which a virulent strain of the influenza virus recombines with a highly contagious strain to create a bug rivaling that responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic, thought to have killed as many as 50 million people — is the most dire scenario, antibiotic resistance is a clear and present danger, already killing thousands of people in the United States each year..."

Read more at Mother Earth News


Toxic Waters Coming To Your Backyard?

Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times

"Myah Petri, 9, leaps into her family's swimming pool in their backyard, which borders a field fertilized by manure. Her family was one of many that discovered their wells were tainted by contaminants found in agricultural runoff."

Read the Toxic Waters project at the NY Times.


'Manure flu' and other CAFO maladies

Brenda Jones, below left, ended up on a hospital respirator within hours of CAFO manure being sprayed on the field across from her rural Henry County home. Her husband Rex says Indiana politicians at all levels value money over human health.

by Steven Higgs

Eric Stickdorn routinely employs proper medical terminology when he describes the human body's reactions to life near a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO), a subject he knows intimately.

Wikipedia, for example, defines "olfactory fatigue" as "the temporary, normal inability to distinguish a particular odor after a prolonged exposure to that airborne compound." That's how Stickdorn explains the fact that, when his mouth burns from ground-level air pollution from the dairy CAFO next to his Wayne County farm, he can't even smell the manure gases.

Read more at the Bloomington Alternative.


Attorney: Indiana Gov. to blame for rural misery

Randolph County farmer Allen Hutchison is among a dozen rural Indiana residents who are suing CAFO operators for ruining the quality of their lives. Attorneys representing the Hoosiers won an $11 million jury award in Missouri in March.

By Steven Higgs

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is responsible for the massive pain and suffering that rural Indiana citizens have suffered while living near concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), according to a former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

"Our current administration has kind of set the table for Indiana being a battlefront for this whole confrontation between this method of farming and the people who want to enjoy their community," said Indianapolis attorney Richard D. Hailey. "He made it a part of the overall economic development plan for the state of Indiana. ... There's almost been in invitation to turn Indiana into the capital of concentrated animal farming operations."

Read more at Bloomington Alternative.


Could This Happen In Your Neighborhood?

Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times

"Mary Propson sits in her backyard, which borders farmland on which a dairy spreads manure. A few years ago, trucks dumped load after load of waste on the fields near her home, she said. Her husband, Vern, protested and warned that the concentrated dumping would ruin his well. Shortly thereafter, the water became undrinkable."

Read more at the NY Times.


Taxpayer-subsidized manure digesters stimulate factory farm pollution

What is the latest taxpayer-subsidized economic stimulus scheme?

By John Kinsman

Why, manure digesters on factory farms, of course!

At the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last December, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled plans to promote manure digesters as a way to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. The trick is that you have to be a factory farm to qualify.

In his State of the State address in January, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced his latest round of tax credits for factory farm expansion, including a whopping $6.6 million for two manure digesters in Dane County catering to just a handful of mega-dairies. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has also been pushing for $1 million in her budget for these digesters.

The real tragedy is that manure digesters actually make global warming worse while “solving” a manure problem that would not even exist if cows were allowed to graze on pasture rather than being confined indoors. As Paris Reidhead documents in the January 2010 issue of the Milkweed, methane is 21 times as bad as carbon dioxide when it comes to causing global warming, and this methane threat largely stems from factory farms that store liquid manure in lagoons under anaerobic conditions. In contrast, utilizing manure as compost under aerobic conditions reduces the “carbon footprint” of dairy cows by over 90 percent.

Read more at The Capitol Times.


Dane County officials gushing over new manure digester

By Jessica Slicer

Moo-ve over, polluting energy sources of the past, there's a new powerhouse in town. Cow power.

Environmentalists and scientists have searched high (wind power) and low (hydropower) for alternative sources of energy, but in Wisconsin, the answer may be lying in the fields. That's right, in cow manure. Supporters of manure digesters have decided that going green will take a little brown, and they can't wait to get started.

Wisconsin already has 26 working manure digesters and is now poised to take a giant leap forward with a first-of-its-kind community digester in the Waunakee area that will primarily serve five farmers.

"Once this digester is up and running, we plan for it to be a model that can be replicated throughout the Midwest and hopefully the country," says Dane County executive Kathleen Falk. "The benefits of it will include sustainable energy, reduced pollution in the lakes and air, money for farms and many new jobs."

The Waunakee digester, which could be working by fall of 2010, is one of two that Dane County hopes to build; the second will likely be in located in Middleton. The digesters will convert animal waste and substrate into clean fuel and energy.

Read more at Madison's The Daily Page.


What's A Methane Digester?

Many people are concerned about pollution and the management of waste, but for some industries, this problem can become overwhelming. For example how do farmers deal with inevitable daily replenishing of methane-producing manure piles? How do cheesemakers dispose of large amounts of toxic wastewater? For these kinds of companies, anaerobic digestion is the best waste management option. Anaerobic digestion transforms waste into useful end-products, removing dangerous pollutants in the process.

What is Anaerobic Digestion?

Anaerobic digestion is a process by which certain kinds of bacteria break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. This useful biological process is often used for waste management. Organic wastes are collected in a tank sealed off from oxygen, and anaerobic bacteria are added, resulting in useful end products including fertilizer and methane-based biofuel.



Getting Sick In Brown County, WI

"In one town in Brown County, 100 wells were polluted by agricultural runoff, sickening residents with chronic diarrhea, stomach illnesses and severe ear infections. Dairies with more than 700 cows, like Mr. Natzke's, must abide by dozens of state regulations and permits. "We follow all the rules," Mr. Natzke says. Nonetheless, neighbors have still become ill."
Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times

Read Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells at the NY Times.


PA Town Passes CAFO Ordinance

Lehigh Township Supervisors unanimously adopted an ordinance Tuesday regulating the location and configuration of concentrated animal feeding operations, or feedlots, that densely house livestock awaiting slaughter.

The new ordinance relegates the feedlots, or CAFOs, to the industrial zone and defines the distances certain operation must remain from neighboring properties. The ordinance attempts to regulate the development of CAFOs locally without overstepping the township's bounds and treading in territory governed by the state.

Supervisor Chairman Darryl Snover said state officials have told township officials they "can't do this," meaning adopt the ordinance.

"I'm not going to say it's not lawful -- it can be challenged," township Solicitor David Backenstoe said...

Read more at the Lehigh, PA Morning Call.