Another Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is a comin’ to Allen County. This one will be number 6 and will be located at 12102 Rohrbach Road. The operation will house 4,000 hogs. A hog produces about 14 pounds of manure a day, which equals a whopping 56,000 pounds of manure a day for a 4,000 head operation. In tonnage that equals 28 tons.
All that waste is held in pits under the slatted floors of the confinement building and eventually placed in “manure” lagoons. The proprietor hauls the juicy concoction out to the fields for spreading or injection, often times in a vehicle euphemistically called a “honey wagon.”
CAFOs have become the darling of the meat production industry with mass production becoming increasingly popular, especially in the hog industry. In the past 15 years, the number of U.S. hog farms has dropped from 600,000 to 157,000. However, the total hog inventory has remained almost the same. In the past 10 years, the U.S. has lost 84,220 farms with the vast majority of this farm loss in the form of small farms.
CAFOs are linked to a number of health and aesthetic issues.
- WATER: CAFO operators apply animal waste to area fields either through injection or spreading, often resulting in the soil becoming saturated with pollutants such as pathogens, phosphorus, nitrate and ammonia. Rainfall causes these chemicals to leach out of the soil and to seep into the underground water table, contaminating surrounding drinking-water sources.
- HEALTH: CAFO air emissions constitute a hazard to public health and worker health with increased rates of nausea, headaches, vomiting or diarrhea and even brain damage and life-threatening pulmonary edema. The American Public Health Association has called for a moratorium on new CAFOs pending additional research on these documented risks.
- AIR (ODOR): People living near CAFOs have long complained about odor emanating from these facilities. Poor air quality in the vicinity of CAFOs has been linked to health concerns like upper respiratory diseases.
- PROPERTY RESALE VALUE: Property resale value may be affected by a nearby CAFO since air quality and quality of life
Image credit: Google Earth
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is taking comments regarding the newest factory farm. But don’t look for IDEM to listen to the public or to deny the permit. IDEM has fallen in step with Governor Daniels’ desire to double hog production in the next few years.
IDEM claims its only role is to review the application and the manure handling plan, and, if in order, the application is rubber-stamped and the permit sent on its way to the new CAFO owner. So, like it or not, Allen County will more than likely be home to a sixth CAFO with more to come. You can count your little piggies on that.