Agriculture Factories

There is a TEDx video that all should see. It is about factory animal production (CAFO: concentrated animal feeding operation); what they are and what they have done to agriculture.

CAFO buildings and urine/feces pits
CAFO buildings and urine/feces pits

The speaker, Michele Merkel, was an attorney that worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Her assignment included dealing with the problems of environmental pollution that resulted from CAFOs. She saw first hand the plight of people who lived near such animal factories. Water was polluted, air was made unfit to breathe, land was contaminated, and people were harmed. The animals were treated in ways that would horrify most people. She fought to correct those things.
That is until the George W. Bush administration came into office. She describes what happened. In short, the EPA was shut down regarding any pursuit of environmental violations by CAFOs. As a result, she quit. For over 15 years, she has opposed the EPA; she sues them over what they are not doing to protect people, the environment, and the animals.
One point made is that CAFOs are NOT agriculture as people generally think of farming. Corporations and their minions that treat animals as bioreactors are not farmers. They are corporation factory operators. Large agriculture corporations have usurped the terms “farmer” and “farming” and “agriculture” to hide behind knowing people would not support what is being done if they knew the facts. This is exactly the reason behind “AG-GAG” legislation that criminalizes the taking of photos and videos without permission of the animal operation. In some states, the laws even apply to photos taken from public locations. The corporations want absolute control and want to operate out of sight and out of mind.
In a State of the Union address as long ago as 1888, President Grover Cleveland said this:

Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.

Think about this. We are fast moving there with agriculture. Animal “production” and patented seed/chemicals are in the hands of giant corporations. The only stopping is for people to become aware and to then act.
Link long address is http://www.tedxmanhattan.org/michele-merkel-using-the-legal-system-to-fight-factory-farms/

Camp Tecumseh and Hogs!

My first reaction to the Associated Press story about the proposed 9,000 hog confinement feeding operation to be located in close proximity to the YMCA Camp Tecumseh was just plain anger. Confinement Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are about as inhumane an agriculture practice that we do, but to locate one in a way that damages the YMCA camp environment is unconscionable.
Camp Tecumseh has been around for decades. It has been the experience of a life time for thousands of children and adults, too. In our times of asphalt, concrete, and electronics; having a place for an experience of nature is rare. The value is beyond measure.
I have to conclude the White County Commissioners are not the brightest lights on the block to have made a decision approving a hog farm of 9,000 animals to be within 800 yards of Tecumseh. Or could it be that Tecumseh is in Carroll County and White County Commissioners just don’t give a damn. They see only economic gain for White County.
Whatever the reasons, it is my hope and prayer that this project be ultimately defeated permanently. The lives of the children who benefit from the Tecumseh experience are more important than 9,000 hogs.

Keep Americans in the Dark Bill 4432

Your right to know what is in the food you purchase will become “keep them in the dark; they are too stupid” to know what is good for them if House Bill 4432 passes Congress. This bill is scheduled for its first reading in the House of Representatives on December 10th.
The fight is over whether you have a right to know if food you purchase at the grocery and feed to your family contains genetically modified ingredients, commonly referred to as GMOs. Sixty four countries, but not the United States, require foods to be labeled as having genetically engineered parts. Labeling is not required in the United States because giant chemical/seed companies such as Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and others that sell genetically modified seed and the poisons used to kill weeds and insects don’t want you to know. You might choose not to buy GMO containing foods.
And why should you care if you eat genetically modified foods? One reason is the pesticides (poisons) used on the crops that become food for us or for livestock follow the crop. These poisons are referred to as pesticide residues, but call them what you may, they are poisons. The government has set allowed amounts of these poisons to be in foods and then tells us they are safe for us to eat. There is one genetically engineered corn that makes its own pesticide (poison) in every cell of the plant including in every kernel of corn. Studies have shown that all of us already carry around in our bodies a load of harmful chemicals. Some are cancer causing. Some are harmful to our livers, kidneys, and other organs including our brains. Some are harmful to our hormone system that controls all sorts of bodily development and function. But what we take in from pesticide residue is safe, if you believe the government.
Genetically engineered crops were simply declared safe by government decree. The government said there was no significant difference between standard crops and those that had been genetically engineered. The 64 other countries that require labeling decided there is a difference. In the US, there have been no long term safety studies on genetically engineered crops. However, evidence continues to emerge that calls safety into serious question — safety for consumption and safety for the environment.
The big deal about HR4432 is that it would prohibit any state in the United States from passing and enforcing legislation requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. It would place all authority for such a requirement in the hands of the very agency that has failed us in the first place, the FDA. HR4432 would literally erase bills already passed in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. It would block labeling efforts ongoing in many other states. When legislation requiring labeling is proposed in a state, big chemical/seed and the large food processing companies pour millions of dollars into opposition advertising. Now they are concentrating efforts into the passage of HR4432.
Indiana has nine representatives in Congress. Two of them, Todd Rokita (R-District 4) and Martin Stutzman (R-District 3) have joined Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas in sponsoring HR 4432. This bill is titled “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014”, when it should be titled “Deny Americans the Right to Know Act of 2014”. Reps Rokita and Stutzman along with big chemical/seed and food processing companies, have decided you should stay in the dark.

CAFO's

In case you don’t know what “CAFO” stands for, it is “confinement animal feeding operation”. It is claimed to be part of agriculture but in actuality it is an animal factory and should be classified as small industrial rather than agriculture.
I attended a day long conference on CAFO’s on Saturday. Most of the conference was focused on animal waste — that’s crap or poop or feces or dodo or sh–! It is a huge problem; many more times greater than the human waste in a given area. And to think that none of it is processed through a waste treatment plant as is human waste. What do you think happens to it? It gets stored in huge lagoons or in underground tanks until such a time it is spread on our agriculture crop lands. It carries with it disease organisms including antibiotic resistant ones since animals are typically dosed regularly with antibiotics (that is a whole other issue). It carries with it silage leachate, chemicals used in animal housing buildings, hormones, ammonia, heavy metals, and an abundant supply of nitrogen and phosphorous. All of this organic soup can easily contaminate ground water or be washed into nearby streams or drainage ways. What a mess….. and a sick one at that. It is not uncommon for land to receive more than the soil organisms can handle.
It gets worse. Indiana is the repository for some of the animal waste generated in Ohio. It is trucked in. It is supposed to be transferred to approved storage facilities, but too frequently gets disposed of into our streams.
Another factor is that too often the distance from a CAFO and its waste disposal is too close to commercial or residential neighbors. The odors can be oppressive and very unhealthy. Wells can become contaminated. The stink means there are things in the air that can be inhaled. Health is at risk. Would you like to live or bring children in such an environment? Stricter set back regulation are needed.
The crime of all of this is that if these operations were classified as small industrial, they would have to meet much more stringent regulations for operation and waste disposal. Some of the crap that is happening would not. Maybe it is time to push for that. Seems a reasonable answer to all but the “farmer” who operates one of these animal factories.