Snippets from “Animal Factory”

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.


● 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.


● 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.


● 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



Filed under General Information

3 responses to “Snippets from “Animal Factory”

  1. Herman H.

    Kewaunee County is certainly experiencing some or most of “all the above”!
    The hope for Kewaunee County will be seen when people understand the problems directly affecting them and they stand together and demand
    changes in local and state politics!
    “United we stand and divided we fall” well this summarizes the problems we face.
    Many thanks to kewauneecares for bringing this valued information to our attention.


    • Jack

      Let citizens sharply focus on the green house gas emissions (GHG) from the CAFO industry. The factory farm industry is a major GHG source. A recent seminar at the Crossroads in St. Bay sponsored by the Door County Environmental Council (DCEC) brought into sharp focus what future generations face.
      GHGs were 270 parts per million (ppm) in the early 1800s and we are now approaching 400ppm and accelerating rapidly. Solid research from independently funded research universities (not industry funded research) show that world temperatures will rise by 6 to 7 degrees F by 2050. These changes will devastate many parts of the world and the trend to more GHG producing sources is increasing with evidence of expansion of the CAFO industry occurring right here in Kewaunee Co.
      A more unsustainable form of agriculture can not be found anywhere on the planet with the possible exception of “slash and burn” agriculture that may yet occur in the most primitive of cultures.


  2. Barry

    Do not forget to consider the large CAFOs you pass at night. Lights burning 24/7 and giant sized fans working more often than not on a constant basis. Where is the electricity coming from to power all these CAFO systems…you are correct if you said “very likely from a coal burning power plant near you”. Some CAFOs claim that their anaerobic digesters create all their needed electricity, however, closer analysis of this shows that this is only partially correct and fails to mention GHGs given off from the entire lagoon, anaerobic digestion system. The CO2, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, non captured methane, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) more than offsets any real electrical gain or environmental enhancements purportedly achieved by these systems.


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