Families throughout the WORC states are facing a growing health problem created by giant agricultural factories that are exempt from many safety and health regulations, and often exempt from state taxes.
The giant animal factories are operating in the region pretending that they are not an industry so that they do not have to follow rules for how they treat animals and how they produce our food.
State, local, and even federal agencies have allowed them to hide what they are doing as the waste from their mega-animal factories poison our land and water and endanger our health.
A report released December 16, 2008 exposes how industrial hog and dairy operations are subsidized through the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The report, Industrial Livestock at the Taxpayer Trough, estimates that between 2003 and 2007, roughly 1,000 industrial hog and dairy operations have captured at least $35 million per year in taxpayer support through EQIP.
We need laws to
- tell the truth
- treat these factories like an industry
- make them pay their fair share of taxes
- secure the public’s right to know about their activities
- protect our land and health from irresponsible dumping of animal waste.
After failing to exempt animal factories from Community Right to Know and Superfund laws in Congress, the animal factory industry is making an end run with a sympathetic Administration to achieve these goals by rulemaking.
In a last minute favor to the animal factory industry, President Bush's Environmental Protection Agency exempted animal factories from a federal reporting requirement first enacted 28 years ago. The rule required animal factories to tell EPA about emissions of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide from manure pits or other farm operations. The animal factory industry failed in several attempts to get this through Congress in the last three sessions.
See comments that WORC endorsed on proposed rules submitted by the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Dairy Education Alliance and others.
In March 2008 key members of Congress wrote to the EPA to oppose these proposed regulations.
“It defies logic for this Administration to exempt animal feeding operations from the Superfund and Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act reporting requirements when the toxic air emissions from these operations can cause severe health effects in people, even death,” Rep. Al Wynn, former Chairman of the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, stated.
WORC supports the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act after court rulings require water law clarification.
- Read WORC commentary in the Billings Gazette
In September, 2007, DRA member Nick Nemec testified in front of the Senate Enviornment and Public Works Committee urging Congress to protect the property rights and neighborhood values of family farmers and rural communities facing impacts from animal factories.
CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations, Union of Concerned Scientists, April, 2008,
Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Production in America, Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Hydrogen Sulfide Fact Sheet, Dakota Rural Action.
Below Cost Feed Crops: An Indirect Subsidy for Industrial Animal Factories, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, June 2006.
Industrial Livestock Companies’ Gains from Low Feed Prices, 1997-2005, by Timothy A. Wise and Elanor Starmer, Global Development and Environment Institute, Tuft’s University.
Foundations of Sand: Considering the Rationale for Factory Farming, Dr. Bill Weida, March 5, 2004.