By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Letter to the editor: More power needed to regulate CAFOs
Placeholder Image
From John Hagen


To the editor:

Recently we have been subjected to a series of large-scale agricultural industry public relations advertisements. The industry PR suggests that CAFO regulations insure that their very presence precludes threats from pollution to the environment and community. Are these PR assertions really true though? If even a cursory search is made on the internet it shows that numerous instances of large-scale manure spills, aquifer contamination, and other environmental problems are associated with these operations (go on the internet and see for yourself). This evidence indicates that these regulations are ineffective. This isn't surprising since the industry has a great deal of influence on drafting these regulations. Another problem is that scarcely any funding exists for enforcement; these regulations are impotent paper tigers.

Let's now compare the industrial CAFO system to small-scale livestock operations employing rotational grazing. Obviously small-scale farms have been grazing livestock for ages without any major environmental problems. Why is this the case? The simple fact is that the cattle are grazing animals and are simply living in a way nature intended. In fact farmers in our county are starting to switch to a system referred to as intensive rotational grazing which has been specifically designed to mimic the same natural processes that take place when herds of animals graze in Africa. Not only is this method far more efficient than the CAFO system but it also actually removes carbon dioxide from the air. CAFOs, on the other hand, are an unnatural method of animal husbandry that has been plagued by numerous environmental problems. These problems arise from a number of causes. These animals live indoors under crowded conditions not out in pastures where they can walk around and graze. The diet they are fed is also abnormal, being composed primarily of grain laced with drugs.

Let's consider why the large-scale industrial CAFO system even exists and how it is forcing out the small scale grazing operations. Simply put, the playing field is slanted to favor these big business because of their ability to shape regulatory policy and garner a disproportionate amount of taxpayer funded subsidies.

As citizens what can we do to rectify this situation? Well one of the most effective measures would be to urge our state and federal officials to give counties greater authority to regulate or refuse to have highly polluting industries in our community.