Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Hidden Cost of CAFO's

This article from the Union of Concerned Scientists on CAFO's (Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or factory farms) had a particular resonance to me after driving on California's Highway 5 last month. Not only the smell would turn you off from beef and dairy for a long time, but also the sight of thousands of cows, standing in their own filth with no green grass to graze on, would do it for you permanently.

Raising livestock in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) generates staggering environmental, health, and societal costs—with taxpayers left footing the bill.

• Foul odors and contaminated water caused by CAFOs reduce property values in surrounding communities an estimated $26 billion nationally.

• The overuse of antibiotics at CAFOs leads to drug-resistant illnesses that are more difficult to treat. The public health impacts associated with antibiotic resistance
from CAFOs cost an estimated $1.5 billion to $3 billion per year.

• Leakage of manure from storage “lagoons” at CAFOs contaminates soil and groundwater. Cleaning contaminated
soil under U.S. hog and dairy CAFOs would cost an estimated
$4.1 billion.

• CAFOs generate about 300 million tons of manure per year; distributing this manure to enough farmland to reduce both air and water pollution (to comply with federal standards) would cost as much as $1.16 billion per year.


Jeremy Marin said...

Perhaps equally outrageous is that farmers don't use the manure from CAFOs to fertilize their land. Instead they opt for petroleum based fertilizers, furthering our reliance on fossil fuels.

Bea Elliott said...

There definately is cause for alarm in the medical community concerning MRSA staph infections - directly linked to livestock agriculture and antibiotic use.

It is pointing more and more to the idea that the most sustainable (and compassionate) food choices are plant based.

Thanks for inviting comment -
Go Vegan.

La said...

We must look at the reasons CAFO's are here. It's vertical integration. That is the bane. What must happen is, small farmers must come together and retake the market. Laws must be changed so that small meat processors can legally sell to the public bypassing the large industrial processors.