Crawford Stewardship Project is grateful for the generous support of RESIST, Inc.
RESIST funds and supports grassroots groups organizing on the frontlines of the peace, economic, social, and environmental justice movements.
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
"CAFOs are only profitable because so much of the cost and damage is externalized onto the environment, neighbors and wildlife. The monitoring, supervision, clean-up, restitution, fines are not happening, thus the true cost of CAFOs never find the way onto the balance books." Talking point from the CAFO Conference.
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
~Aldo Leopold, 1948. A Sand County Almanac.
A Dozen Talking Points on CAFOs
for SW Wisconsin
- Water Pollution: Millions of gallons of liquid manure on the landscape often leads to pollution of streams, lakes and well water. In Michigan where the Sierra Club Water Team did water quality monitoring around CAFOs, 100% of the CAFOs polluted the neighboring watersheds. Karstic geology, such as in SW Wisconsin is particularly vulnerable.And once ground water is polluted here, it will be polluted likely forever because we have an aquifer that does not flow and flush itself.
- Air Pollution: At the least, the quality of life of neighbors is seriously reduced. No more evening barbeques, gardening with joy. At the worst, serious respiratory illness results. Workers are also hit hard, with at least 25% developing permanent respiratory illness.
- Property Values Reduced: Residential property values lower from 10-90% depending on how close property is to a CAFO. Who would chose to live in a place where the stench can be so bad as to make you gag?
- Little Local Control: The Wisconsin Livestock Siting Law, largely written by the CAFO industry, has stripped local governments and citizens of most of their rights to determine local economic development. No other industry on the rural landscape is given such a complete legal advantage over other economic ventures.
- Economic Deterioration: Incompatibility with other rural economic ventures including family farming, farmstead businesses, tourism, basically any venture that includes the need for high quality air and water.
- Farm Economy: Local farming builds local economy and community with farm related businesses and a direct interest in the land and local resources. Once built, CAFO feed is largely trucked in, animals trucked out, and low paid immigrant labor used. This scenario robs communities of local economic, environmental, and social benefits.
- Road Repair: Local governments pay for the extensive road repairs from CAFOs.
- Lack of Enforcement: Industry claims that CAFOs are the most “regulated industry in the state”. They fail to say that monitoring and enforcement is minimal. For example, in the NE part of the state where there are 95 CAFOs, the DNR has just 3 staff people to monitor the operations.
- Cheap Food: Industry claims of cheap food leaves out the fact that we all pay to support their profits. Citizens foot the bill in hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, medical expenses, insurance premiums, declining property values, and mounting clean up costs.
- Production Efficiency: “Bigger is Better”, is a myth perpetuated by the industry. Do not confuse high production with efficiency. The reliance on a heavily subsidized system to produce feed, large amounts of capital to dominate markets, and tax enforcement regulations to deal with waste disposal all are essential to making this industry “efficient”. Market controls leverage an unfair advantage over smaller produces and cloud a more holistic view of efficiency. In other words, diverse family farms are far more efficient in sustainable use of the land, growing food, and feeding the local economy.
- Good Food: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that contaminated meat and poultry related infections make up to 3 million people sick each year, killing at least 1000. And these figures are likely under reported. And confinement increases infectious bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, which cause these diseases. Add that CAFO meat is often contaminated with hormones and antibiotics from the feed that gets passed on to consumers and washed into the water system, and we understand why consumers want to have CAFO meat labeled as such.
- Animal Welfare: The crowded conditions and confinement restricts movement for animals. Often they cannot even turn around. This causes intense distress for animals and increases disease potential. Pasturing is more humane, sustainable, and less polluting.