Those of us who oppose Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) received a small victory in the Indiana House yesterday with the passage of House Bill 1197. The Bill prohibits construction of new CAFOs within 1 mile of cities, towns, schools, and health facilities.
I stress new because last year approximately 120 permits for construction of CAFOs were filed with the Indiana Department of Environental Management. The legislation is not retroative, so those 120 CAFOs will be allowed to go ahead with their plans. The operations will house thousands of animals, all confined in close quarters and not allowed to see an open field. Those thousands of animals will create millions of gallons of manure with all of its toxic components.
The 120 or so permits already on file and in the process of being approved will create CAFOs which will construct manure lagoons similar to those in the above picture.
Although the Bill is a good start, the main concern addressed by the bill is the issue of noxious odors which impact health and decrease land values of residences located near a CAFO. The quality of air is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. CAFOs produce millions of tons of manure which are stored in the lagoons for periods of time awaiting final disposal.
Once the lagoons reach a certain capacity, the manure is transferred to its final resting place – the land surrounding the CAFO. This task is accomplished by a wheeled vehicle euphemistically called a “honey wagon” capable of spraying hundreds of gallons of manure on the fields. While some manure is benefical to enrichment of soil, the quanitites produced by CAFOs far outstrip the benefits.
The danger generated from millions of gallons of manure is the leaching of the manure into ground water and runoff into streams and rivers. Thus, while House Bill 1197 is a start, it is only that. CAFOs are waste-producing factories which must be brought under strict environmental supervison in order to protect our water supplies as well as the air we breathe.