Organic Consumers Association

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The Meat Industry Feels the Heat as the Sustainable-Food Movement Gains Force

Once, the meat industry acted with impunity, confident that its lobbying clout in Washington could deflect any challenges to its practices. But now, it finds itself on the defensive.

In northwest Iowa, the EPA  has taken the brazen, virtually unheard-of step of actually enforcing the Clean Water Act for CAFOs, or concentrated animal feedlot operations. The agency has "documented significant water quality problems" with eight mid-sized cattle feedlots there. "Runoff from CAFOs may contain such pollutants as pathogens and sediment, as well as nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, all of which can harm aquatic life and impact water quality," the agency declared in a press release. That's not the newsflash. The newsflash is that the agency is actually doing something about it.

Meanwhile, in another CAFO-intensive state, Ohio, factory-scale animal farmers have blinked in a showdown with citizen activism. The state's massive egg, hog, and veal industries stand "on the verge of significant change," reports Erik Eckholm in The New York Times.

Then there's the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), which watched idly for years while the meatpacking industry consolidated to a handful of market-dominating companies. Suddenly, GIPSA is baring fangs like a real watchdog, proposing rules that would rein in monopolistic practices. How serious would the proposed rules be? They've inspired an "intense lobbying effort by the corporate meat companies and organizations working to weaken" them, Reuters reports. 

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