The following statements are from the book Animal Factory by David Kirby. Kirby will speak about his book at a special presentation August 22 at the Baileys Harbor Library. This presentation is co-sponsored by the Door County Environmental Council and Kewaunee Cares. Mark your calendar.
A THREAT TO AIR AND WATER:
● Raising cattle produces more greenhouse gases than cars, a UN report warns.
● Manure-based emissions of methane and other CO2 containing gases contributed 7.4 percent (2 million tons) annually to total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
● Agricultural waste is the top cause of well water contaminants in the US. At least 4.5 million Americans are exposed to dangerously high nitrate levels in their drinking water.
● A CDC study of well water in nine Midwestern states showed that 13 percent of the supply had nitrate levels above the EPA standard of 10 milligrams per liter.
● Waste lagoons do not destroy all pathogens: About 15% of viruses and 55% of bacteria survive and could reach groundwater supplies.
● There is ample documentation of water pollution from runoff of animal waste. More than half of all US fish kills were attributed to livestock.
A THREAT TO HUMAN HEALTH:
● Manure can contain deadly pathogens, antibiotics, drug-resistant bacteria, hormones, heavy metals, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, etc. that can seriously impact human health.
● Odors from 170 separate chemicals can cause respiratory disease, diarrhea, depression, violent behavior, nausea, vomiting, headache, insomnia, coughing, appetite loss, and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.
● Animal factories can release nitrates into well water in levels that may cause diarrhea, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, spontaneous abortion and “blue-baby syndrome.”
● Excess nitrate exposure in pregnant women may cause central nervous system problems in children, and even neural tube defects, which has been linked to autism.
● Animal factories can help breed dangerous levels of organisms such as dangerous E-coli, salmonella, listeria, viruses, protozoa and worms.
● Factory farmed animals often receive low dose antibiotics, creating bacterial resistance that is passed between bacteria and conferring resistance to drugs needed by humans.
● Another study found airborne enterococci, staph, and strep bacteria with resistant genes: 98% were resistant to two or more antibiotics.
A THREAT TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES:
● Economic concentration of agricultural operations tends to remove a higher percentage of money from rural communities than when the industry is dominated by smaller farms.
● Many studies have shown that social and economic well-being in small towns improve by increasing the number of farmers, not increasing the volume of commodity produced.
● The agriculture sector boasts that it is so productive it only employs 2% of the population. For every job created by a hog factory, three local jobs are lost.
● One poll said that 42% of rural respondents said a neighboring farm detracted from quality of life “a great deal” or “somewhat.” Odor was the main concern, followed by flies, manure run-off, noise, and dust.
● Agribusiness leaders have political contacts and access to government uncharacteristic of the average citizen.
● When individual concerns and complaints are taken to the state level they are often regarded as being scientifically unfounded and “emotional” in nature.
● Quality of life is an issue. One study said that “highly cherished values of freedom and independence gives way to feelings of violation and infringement.”
● Local redress can be restricted: 13 states have laws limiting disparaging speech about agriculture.
● All 50 states have some type of “right-to-farm” rules that protect animal factories from zoning laws or lawsuits