Imagine living beside a factory farm with 2,000,000 plus chickens.  That is what neighbors in Jay County are facing if an Ohio man has his way.  Keith Boeckman of Hoosier Pride Farms has applied for a permit through the Indiana Department of Non Environmental Management (IDEM) for a six-barn confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) at Indiana 67 and Jay County Road 850-E, near the state line.  Jay County is already home to 19 chicken farms that are state regulated, meaning they have more than 30,000 chickens.

Indiana’s little Napoleon – better known as Mitch Daniels – several years ago laid out a plan to lay waste to rural areas by ramping up the creation of confined/concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  Daniels’ original focus was increasing pork production – not to benefit American consumers but to benefit overseas consumers in developing countries where income was increasing and enabling the buy-in to a higher meat-based diet. But it appears that any old CAFO will do when it comes to exploiting rural Indiana farmlands.

CAFOs house thousands and sometimes millions of animals.  Anyone who has ever lived near or dealt with a huge number of chickens knows how acrid the environment can be.  My great-grandfather had a small farm near Stilesville, Indiana, and I spent several times a year there when I was growing up.  I remember the old outhouse, the spring house, gathering wood with a horse-drawn sled, and an old cast-iron stove from which came many wonderful and tasty meals.

But he also had a long hen house, and each morning we would go out to gather eggs.  The roof was low, and my great-grandfather  had to hunch down to enter through the old wooden doorway.  The smell of ammonia would hit me in the face as I walked into the hen house.  My great-grandfather was always patient with me as I tried so hard to gather just one egg to please him.

The hens didn’t like me, and they sensed I was timid and afraid of their beaks.  Try as I might, I could not grab that egg before the chicken turned its evil eye on me and pecked my hand.  I would recoil in terror and refuse to try again.  My great-grandfather would laugh and say, “Girlie, they won’t hurt you.”  And then he would slide his suntanned, weathered, old hand under the hen and an egg would appear as he withdrew his cupped hand.

Now, back to the issue.  Imagine that acrid, ammonia smell – if you have ever experienced it – compounded millions of times.  Boeckman has assured the unwilling neighbors that the manure will be dried using “new technology” which will also eliminate swarms of flies.   Boeckman calls it a “state-of-the-art” system, but he doesn’t describe its features.  A CAFO is a CAFO is a CAFO.

Whether these monstrosities house hogs, cattle, or chickens is irrelevant.  They produce millions of pounds of manure which require disposal, they create toxic health conditions for the workers involved, and they create a suffocating and inhumane environment for the animals.

Chickens crowded together in a CAFO


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Air Pollution, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, Confined Animal Feeding Operations, Cruelty to Animals, Environment, Farming and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. gadfly says:

    Poultry farms across America are raising 1.5 billion chickens at any given time to satisfy a demand for chicken meat that equals 35 billion pounds every year. These chickens do double duty producing the 5 billion eggs we eat every year. 360,000 jobs result from the chicken industry.

    Methods for raising chickens are not going to change. In this economy, we need to be thankful for the additional jobs in Indiana. WAY TO GO, MITCH!

  2. Gadfly:

    Methods can change and have changed – witness the morphing of the livestock industry from traditional farming methods to factory farming. There is no reason why that same industry cannot revert to less harmful farming methods – other than the fact that the industries involved have done a great job of indoctrinating the public, and it sounds like you have bought into the propaganda.

    I am not sure where you got your statistic, but here are the actual stats from Purdue University:

    The Poultry Industry

    The Indiana poultry industry includes firms that produce and process ducks, turkeys, broilers, and eggs. Total poultry output was estimated as $806.6 million in 2004. The industry paid $142 million in salary and wages to the 5,031 persons directly employed. Additionally, the industry had growing contracts with 651 farmers. With indirect and induced effects, the total economic impact associated with Indiana’s poultry industry is an estimated $1,739,553,923 in sales or expenditures, 12,277 jobs and personal income of approximately $368,929,866. The average salary for all jobs associated with the Indiana poultry industry was $30,050.

    Here is the site in case you want to challenge Purdue:

    Here is an article that contradicts the notion that we “need” CAFOs:

  3. Bobby Jones says:

    Spell-check on a computer is pretty easy to use and it makes your work look much more professional. See the word “conditions” not “condtions” as you have it in the paragraph from your article below.

    “Whether these monstrosities house hogs, cattle, or chickens is irrelevant. They produce millions of pounds of manure which require disposal, they create toxic health condtions for the workers involved, and they create a suffocating and inhumane environment for the animals.
    You may also want to interview a farmer who runs a CAFO and look at the continual challenges that they have to try to make a living.”

    In today’s world, you have to farm pretty big to make it. Unless you are a vegetarian, your meat comes from farm. It doesn’t magically appear at the grocery or grow in your grocer’s freezer. It might be nice if you tried to be objective and understand the operation of a CAFO and that it represents a hard-working family trying to make a living.

  4. Bobby

    Thank you for your eagle eye. I do make a mistake occasionally; I am human. I dislike spell check because it makes us lazy. I proof-read my own work, and, as I noted, I am human. Every now and then, I do miss something.

    “In today’s world” has become a tired, old cliche. I doubt interviewing a CAFO farmer would change my perspective on factory farming. I think if you did your research, you would be surprised who owns CAFOs. Please see the sites I listed in my response to Gadfly.

    You do not need to lecture me about “meat magically appearing.” My great-grandfather was a farmer, and I was married to a farmer.

    And, yes, I am a vegetarian. I do not eat any meat.

    Objectivity requires focusing on more than one area. If you read about CAFOs, you will learn that they cause a great deal of harm. I suggest the public take a closer look at the harm done by CAFOs instead of trying to figure out what type of sauce to slap on the steak or chicken breast.

    Yes, indeed, the livestock industry has done an excellent job of indoctrinating the public to accept that a meat-based diet is the only way to go – and the more the better.

  5. ellen says:

    You are what you eat. Americans eat way too much meat(protein), it is obvious, you only have to look at the girth of the majority of average Americans. There needs to be a better balance of protein, vegetables, fruits consumed.

    It is a fact that more waste from chickens, or other livestock is produced in CAFOs than from humans. Human waste is regulated to protect the waters of the state, but chicken waste(others) can be placed virtually anywhere, including next to streams and rivers, could that be why the phosphorus levels are so high in the Maumee?

  6. Ellen:

    I just watched a documentary called “Killer at Large”, which is about obesity in this country. It contained a wealth of information and focused on how the food industry targets the public – in particular children – with advertising.

    Another documentary, Food, Inc., takes on the food industry – here is a summary from the website:
    In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

    Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

    I have a difficult time understanding the ignorance of consumers when it comes to the food supply and our health. For instance, cholesterol – our bodies make almost all the cholesterol we need, yet Americans shovel in inordinate amounts of cholesterol every day when they consume animal products.

    I liken it to having an 8 ounce glass of water 7/8 full and then trying to pour in another cup of water. It is no wonder that a third of the population has high cholesterol. Here is a site with stats:

    And these stats address the 20 and older groups – our kids are increasingly subject to high cholesterol as well.

    I have written for several years about the harm caused by CAFOs, but, again, the industry has done a wonderful job of convincing American consumers that they need more, more, and more meat.

  7. iceironman says:

    Its not the food libs, its the lazy lifestyle. I cant wait until libs control everything I can eat.

    P levels in the rivers are not a result of animal manure in so much as commercial fertilizers.

    No one needs coerced into eating more meat, it is a privlege of a successful economy and nation. But who would know that as libs tell us our middle class and poor a growing in numbers, yet their wastlines are dispropotionaly bigger than the wealthy. Go figure.

    I just read California is banning eggs from cafos. This is hillarious, eggs are going to cost 12 bucks a dozen, fast food chains will not be able to serve them. Bakeries will be out of business.

    I think its funny that you say the chickens are treated inhumanly. Thats because they are not humans???

    Can you do a story on 2.5 years of unemployment now being offered. I just met a guy who has no plans of getting a job because after taxes, travel, etc, hes better off on the taxpayers back and on his couch. Problem is, taxpayer is broke with the govt.

  8. iceironman says:

    By the way, being a vegitarian, will you commit to eating only veggies harvested by legal citizens under only the most ideal working conditions. Right now youre eating veggies picked by illegals living in squaller, no insurance, below min wage, exposed to toxic pesticides, its horrible what you are causing these illegals to go through just to get your selfish veggies. They are humans and being treated inhumanely.

    So go ahead and write an article on the selfish, gluttony of vegitarians.

    Ouch, thats a good rebuttle by me!!
    Nothings perfect is it.

  9. iceironman says:

    The United States produces almost eight billion chickens, turkey and ducks per year; about 7.7 billion broilers; about 301 million turkeys, about 303 million layers. Number of chickens and turkeys are increasing, while the number of farms is decreasing due to larger, more efficient farms. It is predicted that in ten years the average layer farm size will be 300,000 or more.

  10. Ice:

    Let me take your comments in order:

    #7 – The “lazy lifestyle” you blame comes from an increase in technology that requires cubicles and sitting in front of computers day in and day out. When the average worker gets done, he or she is concerned about getting home and feeding the family, doing laundry, and taking care of household chores before bed. I don’t call the after hours work laziness. The lack of physical exercise contributes to many health issues, but that doesn’t mean the workers are “lazy.”

    Eating animal products is hazardous to one’s health – it is not a privilege. Killing oneself with cholesterol-laden products is not a privilege; it is an atrocity. Animals are producers of cholesterol – vegetables are not. So the meat industry indoctrinates the public into thinking that meat is a necessary in life. It isn’t – I am going on 21 years as a vegetarian, and I am not dying from a lack of meat. Industries are great at convincing gullible consumers that they “need” products even when those products are harmful.

    Another example – milk. No other mammal consumes milk after weaning, but, the dairy industry has convinced the consumer that they must have milk. The rest of the mammal world weans their babies and then they drink water. Why do you think that 75% of adults worldwide show some decrease in lactase activity during adulthood? Our systems are not set up to handle lactose after we are weaned. But, never fear, the dairy industry has marketed its product so well that people worldwide are convinced they have to have milk in order to survive.

    And, to top it off, dairy products contain cholesterol since they are from animals. We are killing ourselves because of incessant marketing of unnecessary products.

    As to the eggs – cholesterol again. One egg contains 57% of the daily requirement of cholesterol. Why, oh why is it so hard to understand that our bodies produce almost all the cholesterol we need to live, yet consumers dump more and more into their bodies every day. It is cholesterol overload, and that leads to additional health problems – clogged arteries, heart attacks, etc.

    Treating an animal “humanely” is entirely different than considering an animal “human” (please note that I used the word “inhumane” not “human”). To treat something “humanely” means to use compassion, tenderness, and sympathy. This applies to animals as well as humans. They are two different things – one can treat something humanely even if that “something” is not human.

    The guy you met – okay there may be some out there. Exceptions always exist.

    #8 – What on earth does my being a vegetarian have to do with eating veggies picked by legal workers? Another “red herring” issue. I do not cause these conditions – the greedy business owners who exploit the workers cause the conditions. Go after the businesses who hire the workers – not the workers. Why are authorities so reluctant to penalize employers?

    I would absolutely disagree with your portrayal of vegetarians as “selfish” and “gluttonous.” Gluttony refers to “excessive eating.” I doubt that is what you intended to say. And, “selfish?” Explain that, please.

    #9 – You are absolutely incorrect in your admiration of CAFOs. They will be the destruction of the American farmer, and the efficiency you mention is responsible for cutting jobs in the agricultural community, the increase in hormone-injected animals, the increase in resistance to antibiotics, the poisoning of rivers, etc. Food is no longer healthy food. It is a product that is maximized for profit and production, not for its healthful properties to humans.

    Again, the industries have done a wonderful job of convincing consumers that they need the very products that lead to unhealthy lifestyles and bodies saturated with cholesterol.

  11. iceironman says:

    You are so full of crap, “the dairy industry has convinced the consumer that they must have milk” No. milk has been a staple of every society. There is no conspiracy to blame corp. America. Cheese is good, dairy is good.

    I would say if anyone is doing any convincing it would be your big GOVT telling us of a pyrimid and telling parents that if your kid doesnt get milk they wont develop right.

    If you dont eat the veggies the workers wouldnt have to live in squaller.

    Did the meat industry indoctrinate the cave men? You think this crap is new. People eat protien, animals.

    If you think you are so much more evolved than the rest of society you are wrong. The only thing I see is that you may be evolving into a communist dictatorship sociaty where you can tell others what to eat, what to think, what to wear, what to drive, what business gets grants etc.

    Your veggies cause more human suffering than my bacon. Straight fact, yet you think you are a little farther up the food chain than I. If you had your way you would enlist the govt to limit meat intake. You would have them limit everything because you dont believe in individual freedoms. You definatly lean to the collective good.

  12. Ice:

    You failed to address the concerns I raised. What about the harm from cholesterol-laden animal products? You are an intelligent person and at least must acknowledge that cholesterol in excess is not good for you and leads to clogged arteries and potential heart attacks. The amount of meat and dairy taken in is harmful. Did you even check out the American Heart Association website stats? If not, here it is again, and it only gives stats for those 20 and over:

    Twenty percent of American children have high cholesterol.

    In the early days, meat and milk were part of diets. What I am saying is that these products are no longer seen as a part of a diet but have risen to the status of “must haves” in the diet. This is totally inaccurate. You have to admit that meals focus on the meat product that will be provided for consumption. Rarely do you see a cooking show that doesn’t focus on the meat dish. The vegetables are seen as side dishes. This view is a product of industry marketing and advertising and socialization.

    Here is an interesting article about diets in the east and in the west – and, as you asked in another post of me – please keep an open mind when reading it:

    I would not enlist the government to limit meat intake, but I would like to see more education on the detrimental effects of a diet based predominantly on animal products. I see all kinds of ads for pharmaceutical products that are harmful and sometimes fatal, but I never see any attempt to educate the public about diets.

    You also did not address the issue of penalizing employers who exploit the illegal immigrants. What about that? Or do you hold the “poor” corporations guiltless because they have to make a profit and what better way to make a profit than to exploit illegals. Here is a good article about the “Myths of Immigration.”

    As to your statement about evolving into a communist dictatorship, you are clearly off-base in your understanding of communism. The fact that we have laws and administrative regulations to protect citizens and the public does not make a nation communist.

    Where would you like to draw the line as to the laws we have? Would you like to go back to the days of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” where workers lost hands and fingers in dangerous working conditions? Or how about food safety laws? Get rid of them and let the public take its chances when they eat out or run through the drive through?

    Or how about doing away with mandatory vaccinations? If you are going to split this into public safety vs. individual safety, then you will never be able to argue the point.

    Exactly where would you draw the line?

  13. kristi says:

    Charlotte, I found this a couple years too late! Oh well. Just wanted to comment, I assume you have heard of the bad health prolems that can be caused by all of the hormones used in agricultural production? Well I had heard of it, but a couple years ago, it hit close to home. A very dear friend of my daughters, she was NINE at the time everything started, was affected horribly. I would have never known, had it not been for my chatty nature. My daughter and I were at the friends home, I was visiting with her mom in the kitchen. When she opened the fridge, I noticed organic milk. I always use organic, but was surprised that she did, so I asked her why she had organic milk. She told me that her daughter (which I had noticed though obviously never commented on) had been developing very large breasts. The poor little thing was mortified, none of her friends had breasts yet. They took her to a specialist, he told they had to stop letting her eat anything that was raised with hormones. She was full of hormones, and NOT her own. So all of their meat, milk, everything, they have to make sure is organic, NO hormones! Now I am even more pleased with my decision to raise my daughter as healthy as I can, and that means buying all of our meat etc from farmers that do not use hormones or antibiotcs. (I do not eat meat, but her father and she do. Am hoping she will choose a vegetarian lifestyle when she is older.)

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