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



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


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


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


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?


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