Monday, March 30, 2009

CAFO. A very dirty word.

This weekend was an interesting one at the farm. It had it's good moments and it's bad moments. The drive up was fine. Stopped at Menards to get some more 2 x 4 's for putting up walls. Relaxed when we got to the farm. Went to bed early so we could be full of energy for the weekend. Eli came over to visit Saturday morning and told us some disturbing news. He had been to a meeting last week concerning the company that is trying to site a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) in our county. The firm is from Rockford IL. They own several parcels in Vernon county. They have said that they will probably have a California company handle the operations of the CAFO. They have already changed their mind on two sites because of public outcry. The first was a mile and a half from the town of Westby. The second, a mile from Viroqua. They also own other land which is on our road. About 2 miles as the crow flys. We (and all of the neighbors) are downwind. Do you know what the manure form 3200 head of dairy cows smells like? The water useage is just unbelievable too. One hundred fifty gallons of water per cow per day. Bye-bye area wells.
A farmer/neighbor up the road stopped by as we were packing to leave Sunday with a petition to stop the CAFO & another petition stating we would not let them spread their manure on our property. You see, they have to get rid of the manure. If enough area people won't take it, they'll have to pay to truck it somewhere else. And then there is the road. Our road gets little traffic. A lot of Amish buggies, milk trucks from the small dairies and very little truck & car traffic. An operation like this would produce a huge amount of truck traffic. It makes me cringe thinking of all those trucks on the same road as the Amish in their buggies & the children walking to school. That's one thing that might be in our favor. The Amish school is practically next door to the site.
The way the law is in Wisconsin, it is only possible to fight a CAFO from an environmental standpoint and there are several loopholes (of course). Even if all the people in the area sign a petition against it, they can still do it if they want. We have what is called "Karst" topography in our area. Karst topography is a landscape created by groundwater dissolving sedimentary rock such as limestone. This creates land forms such as shafts, tunnels, caves, and sinkholes. Groundwater seeps into and through these land forms. The result is a scenic landscape which is beautiful but fragile, and vulnerable to erosion and pollution. This should be enough to keep them out of our area but Wisconsin is a very pro-agriculture state. Which is fine but factory farms aren't agriculture. They are corporations who mistreat animals and the land with no regard for the health of their neighbors or the environment.
And speaking of is a article from the Westby Times quoting Peter Holzhauer, who is an emergency room doctor at Elmbrook Memorial Hospital, Milwaukee, who used his medical expertise to research the health hazards of CAFOs in the 2008 fight against a CAFO pig farm.
"Two direct human health risks have been linked to CAFOs: airborne particulates (with attendant odors serving to add insult to injury) and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.“The air pollution is a health risk, which, depending on prevailing winds and distance to populations, basically dissipates with time and wind. And generally there is a siting rule that the CAFO has to be half a mile from any population or even a farmhouse,” he said, noting in particular the dangerously higher incidence of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia near CAFOs.The other danger, he adds, is both less immediately detectable and more deadly. “The so-called MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) show a higher incidence near CAFOs,” he says, explaining that this and other e-coli bacteria have managed to build a resistance to human antibiotics through the overuse of animal antibiotics prevalent in CAFOs. “Part of the problem there is that about 70 percent of our antibiotics go into animals, and not for the purpose of preventing disease, necessarily, but for fattening them up for market. Therefore a CAFO is a prime situation for developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”He noted that the bacteria first show up among CAFO workers and eventually, through personal contact, can infect family and neighbors. It also shows up, Holzhauer said, in surface water runoff."
So, we are a little upset. The farmer/neighbor up the road is putting all his projects on hold until this is resolved. It leaves us in a similar situation. Do we keep working on our home and land in the hope that it won't happen or do we stop for now? We won't live in an area with such health concerns. But our land values would plummet and who would buy a farm downwind from a CAFO?
The land he owns up the road is only one of the sites. There are three other parcels of land he owns. We are in the middle of them.
I hope this resolves itself soon. There is a huge (stinky) cloud hanging over all of us now.


Zan Asha said...

Wow, Barb, I am sorry to hear this. I am SO against factory farming, I wish people were more aware how exactly prevalent it is--even some of the "beloved" brands of foods people eat are based on horrifyingly huge agribusiness (can we say Tyson Chicken, everyone?)

Besides the mistreatment of animals, it really does impact the environment and can destroy there a way to bring this up to city hall in your county, maybe a town meeting or something? I bet if they knew you, or people like you, would turn around and sell your farm, leave the state and take your tax revenue with you, they might not be so swift to let a CAFO into your area.

Crossing fingers that you will prevail!

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

I´m so sorry to hear thet You might get something like that close to Your farm! As You say, they have nothing to do with farming att all. In Denmark they have pigfactories like that and they are pumping in antibiotics in those pigs, so now bakteria has become resistant to antibiotics.

There have been deaths in Denmark (people I mean then) when they haven´t cooked the flesh properly and gotten those resistant bacteria in their bodys. I really, really hope that You woun´t have to get something like that close to You! Fight it however You can!

SkippyMom said...

150 gallons of water PER cow PER day? I can't even imagine...let alone the other ramifications.

I hope this is well down the road and is put down. The Amish school alone should make this a no-go. How dangerous for y'all but the kids? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Oh My! this is terrible news for you and I cringe at the thought of having the CAFO so close to your property. I pray that all of the property owners & the Amish School can fight it. Keep the faith

Anonymous said...

Barb, here is some info if some of your readers are not aware of the problems with CAFO's.

How Do CAFOs Impact the Environment?
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are facilities where large numbers of poultry, swine, cattle or other animal types are confined within a much smaller area than traditional pasture operations. The concentration of the wastes from these animals increases the potential to impact air, water, and land quality.

Failures to properly manage manure and wastewater at CAFOs can negatively impact the environment and public health. Manure and wastewater have the potential to contribute pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones and ammonia, to the environment.

The environmental impacts resulting from mismanagement of wastes include, among others, excess nutrients in water (such as nitrogen and phosphorus), which can contribute to low levels of dissolved oxygen (fish kills), and decomposing organic matter that can contribute to toxic algal blooms. Contamination from runoff or lagoon leakage can degrade water resources, and can contribute to illness by exposing people to wastes and pathogens in their drinking water. Dust and odors can contribute to respiratory problems in workers and nearby residents.

I looked it up and copied this...debbie

Barb and Steve said...

Thanks for the good wishes of everyone. There are meetings being held. There are a lot of farmers that have been brainwashed by the ag industry, telling them it would be against farmers do not allow CAFO's in the area. Everyone has their own opinion but I think it is a very un-informed one.
Debbie...thanks for the additional info. I am going to keep track of the meetings taking place up there. I will travel to them (if the roads are ok)to voice my opinion. Just hope my brain cooperates!

Rabbit Hill Farm said...

Fight the good fight Barb!

Edain: said...

Oh my! Sorry to hear about this hun. Keep making lots of noise about it get local TV, Radio and Newspapers involved as well as local governent officials, those that are green anyhoo. Do whatever you can to keep the bogga's out! Thinking of you and the rest of the residents. Good luck hun!

Anonymous said...

Send them to Oklahoma... PW loves cows/cattle. Oklahomans are used to the smell... Sorry to hear about this... fight them tooth and nail!!

The Blue Ridge Gal

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

This my first visit...and what a gorgeous place to live!! I hope you will be able to keep your home and not be subjected to such a thing.
Debbie..thank you for looking it up and printing it.

Cat said...

Oh that's just horrible. I'd never heard of CAFOs before so I went and looked it up. How anyone in their right mind can believe that they're a good idea is beyond me. Nor can I believe it's just can't be! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that this goes away and you all don't have to deal with it!


fullfreezer said...

Oh dear! We drove by several CAFOs on vacation a few years ago. That is one of the biggest reasons we stopped buying 'commercial' meat and have changed to local, sustainable farmers. I can't imagine having one nearby. I'll keep my fingers, toes and everything else crossed for you that you and your neighbors can keep them out.

Anonymous said...

Barb, I wish you the stamina and good health to fight the CAFO. We have some of these here in North Florida and if you have ever driven by one it is enough to not only make you stop eating meat or simply buy local grown grass fed but to also break out the barf bag. The smell is horrific. I recently read an article in Mother Earth News about how MRSA is orginating in the CAFO's and how much pollution they create.

Barb and Steve said...

Thanks everybody and welcome to the blog Barbara. We will do whatever we can to fight this. Not just by the site by us. All the sites. We don't eat meat but anyone who does that doesn't get it from local, organic sources could be contributing to the problem unknowingly. Education about the food we eat is the message we need to get out there.

angie said...

Oh, Barb. This is terrible! This is my absolutely worst fear! I can only hope that the public outcry is so bad that it isn't approved. Although that will unfortunately mean that the CAFO will try to build somewhere else and someone else will have to fight it. You're right - we need to educate folks. Only eat grass fed from local, organic, family farms!

Barb and Steve said...

Thanks Angie...I know...I hate to think of it going "anywhere"