Manure is sewage by any other name so what’s the problem? New York City and Los Angeles produce a lot of sewage and there is no outcry. Why does the animal waste from big industrial CAFOs create such environmental problems while the big cities do not?
It's a pretty simple question with a pretty simple answer. The answer is that there is such a huge volume of in a small space with no sewage treatment facilities like the big cities have and it has nowhere to go except into the air, into the water and into the ground.
The more serious problem is the stuff that is found in this particularly foul brand of animal waste. Each animal factory has its own particular witch’s brew of toxins with their corresponding menu of environmental problems and impacts.
All that sewage coming out of animal factories doesn't just stay at the location where it was released. It travels. Water seeks its own level and warm gases rise.
Even when sprayed on fields, the toxic brew of manure, urine, chemicals and pathogens runs off the field into gulleys and ditches, eventually finding its way into streams and tributaries.
The next stop is bays like the Chesapeake or Pamlico Sound, or great rivers like the Columbia; all finally ending up in the oceans.
Spray from those sewage cannons and evaporating gases from the scenic lagoons of liquid crap rise high into the atmosphere. Air currents carrying the methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and other noxious gases from the CAFOs end up over forests, prairies, farms and homes hundred or even thousands of miles distant.
Eventually it comes down in the form of acid rain and one day we look around and see dead stumps of trees where a thriving forest once stood.
The odor from intense animal feeding and raising operations not only destroy the quality of life within miles of the facility, it causes a wide range of health problems that will be covered in the next section. The smell is so strong that even flying several thousand feet over a hog CAFO can cause extreme headaches and nausea.
Imagine living in the vicinity of such an operation and not being able to open your windows, go outside or sit on the porch.
Imagine coming out and finding your car covered in a coating of black slime, washing hanging on the line to dry (yes, they still do that in the country) getting fouled by a drifting mist of hog waste or seeing your kids playing in puddles of the stuff in the yard.
It happens and has been well documented in numerous law suits against the factory farms.
As David Kirby describes it in his book Animal Factory (below), "..the waste, odors so foul they made people vomit or even faint, burning sore throats, watering eyes, throbbing headaches, the stench permeated clothes on the line, insides of the homes, drapes, carpets...." Click on the book cover to learn more about Kirby's landmark work.
He goes on to say..."The lagoons were lakes of brown hog manure and urine that often overflowed into nearby waterways, contaminated wells, flowing onto neighboring farms and lawns, flowing over highways. Manure spraying on fields with high pressure "water" cannons creates a mist that drifts onto neighboring cars, homes, yards..."
Imagine having one of these operations set up shop near your house.
While chicken waste is not stored in lagoons or sprayed onto fields, it carries its own particular brand of toxins, noxious odors and has a way of ending up where it shouldn't.
From here, we go on to describe the pollution and environmental degradation caused by specific type of CAFOs, beginning with hogs.
But first, here is another resource that further condemns the factory farm system for its hazardous wastes in the form of tons and tons of animal waste. Go to the: