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Collateral Damage: Life among the CAFOs

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page.

CAFOs. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Sometimes people say Confined Animal Feed - ing Operations. Where I live, in northeastern Wisconsin, we have 16 CAFOs in Kewaunee County, second only to our neighboring Brown County which has 20. Most of these operations have 5,000-10,000 animals living in the closed quarters of the confinement model. Of our 16 CAFOs, 15 are dairy operations.

Looking at the topography where we live, right below the "thumb" of Wisconsin, it's hard to imagine the lack of forethought or planning that went into the process of these mega-operations and their expansions. At one time we were a community of thriving class 1 trout streams and had the good fortune to live in a community along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, dotting our community with beaches and breathtaking lake views the literal gateway to the famous Door County, Wisconsin.

For a long time the community here has been tolerant of watching the things we hold dear be degraded. Our soils, water and air have been greatly compromised due to these mega-operations and their polluting wastes, measuring in the millions and millions of gallons.

Saturated with manure, 79 percent of our farmland is currently managed in what our Department of Natural Resources calls "Nutrient Management Plans," designed for the land spreading of the voluminous amount of waste generated by these bloated operations. Already under a siege of waste where we live, these mega-farms now seek to spray irrigate manure into the air we breathe here, yet another form of disposal for an industry bulging at the seams with waste.

For years now we have had to hear and nauseam of how these factories are "feeding the world." Now, a tremendous producer of animal waste, the newest mantra we have to hear about is their "liquid gold" and how valuable it is to them and their crops. Liquid gold where I live is full of hormones, antibiotics, and barn cleaners and may include industrial and/or municipal wastes.

Even too much of a good thing is bad, especially when "liquid gold" ends up in groundwater, wells and on our beaches caked with algae due to the "nutrient loads" deposited in our waterways and traveling to Lake Michigan. The dispersal of harmful particulates, under the guise of "nutrients" is wrong. The reality of "drift" and "fugitive emissions," which cannot be captured or controlled, put us all at risk for exposure to pathogens, viruses, bacteria and toxic chemicals to be ingested or inhaled, harming human health.

We can not afford to use human beings in a study that has such blatant disregard for human health and the rights we all have to breathable air.             

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