I can’t believe how horrible our meat industry is for our environment.
Why can’t people just jump on board and fight back?
I need to try to do something about this, because CAFOs simply do not sit well with me.
Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are a horrifying reality utilized in Western agriculture; the damaging environmental, social, and health impacts prove that the ends do not justify the means regarding way our livestock is processed. Livestock are forced to live and eat in small, enclosed areas surrounded by urine, feces, and dead animals. A CAFO can be defined by two characteristics: 1. Animals are confined for at least forty five days every twelve months and 2. There is no grass or vegetation in the confinement area. The resources used and toxins emitted pose a threat to our precious earth. Many people are unaware of the harmful products given to their livestock and poultry, and research has proven that these contained and modified foods are harmful for human consumption.
CAFOs are a big contributor to pollution, which means that people are exposed to poor air quality, poor water quality, and various viruses and bacteria. CAFO emissions contain ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which are both extremely hazardous gasses. Hydrogen sulfide is a “chemical asphyxiant with effects on both oxygen utilization and the central nervous system”; depending on exposure, people may be susceptible to respiratory irritation, fatigue, shortness of breath, etc. The inhalation of ammonia is very hazardous to the lungs, skin, and eyes. According to the United States Department of Labor, “exposure to 300 parts per million (ppm) is immediately dangerous to life and health,” and in a 2011 farm analysis a reported 11 of the 14 CAFOs studied emitted more than 100 pounds of ammonia on average days, some reaching the thousands. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that workers be exposed to no more than 35 ppm every fifteen minute interval, but oftentimes ammonia concentrations from livestock barns and hen houses reach the hundreds daily. Published research has proven that CAFO emissions are detrimental to people’s health, and insufficient measures are being taken to protect the working man.
Rivers and water sources also fall victim to manure pollution; sewage dumped into water is a perfect host for organisms that cause infectious diseases in humans such as E.Coli, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium. Animal waste is stored in lagoons or pits by way of pipes, but the transfers have resulted in a high number of spills. “CAFO runoff contains antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, heavy metals such as zinc and copper (added to hog and poultry diets), chemicals, and microorganisms”, which can cause those disease spreading parasites to enter our bodies. The EPA is doing it’s best to control the amount of spills, leaks, and discharge, but with large companies having such a strong hold on the economy, our water will become more contaminated, and more measures will need to be taken to protect our drinking water.
The number of family farms has dwindled from 6.1 million farms in 1920 to 2.1 million in 2002. With just a few businesses - including Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef Packing Company - controlling over eighty percent of meat production in the US, cost is kept down in every way possible.The irony is that these corporations have got the common person fooled into thinking these practices help keep costs down, when in fact billions of taxpayer dollars are given to CAFOs every year in subsidies. It would take approximately 4.1 billion dollars for every CAFO farm to clean the contaminated soil. Property value is lowered because of poor air quality. More people are hospitalized because of respiratory failure. And with these companies only getting larger, fitting them into such small areas is only going to hurt our society more.
Too little energy spent on such a high density of animals is a recipe for disaster. It is confounding the magnitude by which CAFOs destroy our environment and resources. Water and air quality are not properly managed because of the sheer amount of livestock produced and cooped up. Corporations control our food, and the working man suffers the consequences of their avaricious behavior. A great solution to our problem would be to increase the number of family farms. It would both keep costs down because millions of dollars would not be needed from taxpayers to maintain healthy work environments. Mid-sized and less crowded facilities result in healthier conditions and reduced antibiotic use. Finally, smaller farms would vastly improve local economies because feed would be produced onsite rather than shipped in, and if more farms are being formed, people will be more likely to purchase their food from a farmer versus a grocer.