Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tomorrow we find out...

The Chinese have a saying...

"May you live in interesting times."

Well, guess what?

We are living in "interesting times" today - especially in Jasper County, Indiana.

This is an important time in the history of Jasper County.

At a time when sugar plums should be dancing in children's heads, when pleasant thoughts of hope, love and generousity should be ringing through our homes -- warming hearts and minds -- those who care about what that future will become for our children are scrambling to stop the onward CAFO march from swallowing up their heritage... devouring their dreams of good clean country living for their children -- and their children's children.

In Mitch's view, he's bringing jobs to Indiana by embracing CAFOs, encouraging them to settle here.

Considering the large number of CAFOs that have raced to take him up on his invitation, why is it that in 2004 reporters revealed so many Hoosiers are getting poorer ...?

Do the economic benefits truly exist for area residents?

Some experts strongly disagree.

Some area residents have also indicated that "the more land that is snatched up by CAFOs in this county, the more people are forced to search for work in other counties."

The smaller farms are disappearing, taking jobs with them. Communities located near large CAFOs are discovering first-hand how difficult it is to attract other industries and businesses to their area.

As for attracting new residents, quite frankly, who really wants to live next to a CAFO?

At tomorrow's BZA meeting, you will meet many who DON'T.

An equally important issue to consider is: what can we expect regarding the future condition of the land we pass down to our children?

Even years after Dairy CAFOs have been abandoned, high concentrations of phospherus can remain in the soils where they have spread their manure.

In fact, science has already shown that "Repeated manure application can lead to excessive soil test P (STP) levels and increased P concentration in runoff..."

Experts already know it can take decades to clean up impaired water bodies. Ask IDEM how long it is taking to clean our ditches, streams, rivers and lakes. Even better, ask them how many they've managed to fix vs how many more have become impaired over the past 5 years.

They know about the black shale that exists in our area.

They know about the sandy conditions ...the shallow wells many of us are forced to use owing to the geological make-up of northwestern Jasper County.

And they also know...

"Farming systems have intensified greatly over time, and in recent years it has become apparent that the concomitant increase in losses of N and P from agricultural land is having a serious detrimental effect on water quality and the environment." (source)

And as much as many would like to believe chlorination can deal with the more dangerous pathogens found in manure that might leach into our water supply, science has already proven this is not always the case.

- "The results of this study demonstrate apparent transmission of C. jejuni among feedlot cattle during the feeding period, unaffected by water chlorination, resulting in a high prevalence of C. jejuni excretion by cattle approaching slaughter."

- "No differences were observed in the fecal or water trough sediment prevalence values of E. coli O157:H7 in 10 pens supplied with chlorinated drinking water supplies compared with nonchlorinated water pens."

- "Water treatment plants cannot usually guarantee to remove all C. parvum from water because the oocysts are very small (4-5 micrometers in diameter) and are resistant to chlorine and other disinfectants."

The explicit instructions on the Center for Disease Control website instructing people to not drink water from shallow wells in areas that may be contaminated with c. parvum without first thoroughly boiling the water, is a clear indication that even health officials can't ignore -- there could be a problem here.

The simple truth is, many pathogens passed on through livestock manure can survive a very long time -- "Culturable E. coli O157 survived for at least 245 days in the microcosm sediments."

"The hazards associated with pathogens in land-applied animal and human wastes have long been recognized."

I don't even want to get into the global warming side of the issue... and yet, the situation is so urgent it deserves mention here. The free report titled, "Livestock's Long Shadow" published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presents a grim picture, indeed. (Thanks to kemplog for bringing this up.)

"Livestock's contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency." Source: Livestock's Long Shadow

For instance, animal agriculture is cited as being the largest contributor to global warming pollutants -- even larger than the transportation sector (ie. cars, trucks, etc.).
"The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent."

And yet, while many CAFOs have managed to secure environment "credits" ...they are not monitored nor charged with the global warming gases they emit.

Now, maybe global warming is not something you like to think about -- and if this is the case, you may want to check out An Inconvenient Truth ...like my husband, it might change your mind.

The land use figures present another daunting picture for the future of our world:

"In all, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet."

This is not news to many scientists. In fact, Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases Technical Reports have been written on the subject of greenhouse gas emissions from Dairy farms before.

What's important to note, is...

Livestock production is expected to double by the year 2,050.

"The environmental impact per unit of livestock production must be cut by half, just to avoid increasing the level of damage beyond its present level."

Changes to livestock production are required TODAY -- not TOMORROW.

Instead of RACING AHEAD TO BUILD MORE AND MORE CAFOs... a line must be drawn in the sand.

It truly is -- TIME TO STOP -- TIME TO THINK -- TIME TO CHANGE THE PICTURE -- we are painting for future generations!

We HAVE to consider the CAFO impact. We HAVE to put new regulations into effect TODAY to protect the future we pass down to our children in Jasper County.

The call for a moratorium on CAFOs in Indiana to assess their impact and risks to public health, to determine new legislations to protect our land, air, water and health, in my humble opinion, is a necessity -- not something to ignore.

If not now... then when?

What are we leaving behind for our children?

What will remain for our grandchildren?

Yes, we are living in interesting times.

To paraphrase a quote, "The choices we make today will shape the future of our communities."

5 comments:

Dave Williams said...

How many more e-coli outbreaks will we need to experience before someone starts to connect the dots between application of manure to vegetable fields (spinach, green onions, etc.)and contaminated vegetables?

kmyers said...

I hear you -- and agree 100%

In fact, during the hog farm open house, one of my main questions for them was, "Do you remove the salmonella from the manure before application?"

They admitted that no, they don't -- in fact, according to them, they can't. They also admitted that salmonella was a problem in hog manure.

So ...okay... where is our public health department on this issue?

I'd sure like to know!

Anonymous said...

Karen,

Salmoonella is not a probem in hog manure. In fact it is far more organic to use hog manure that commercial fertilizer. You have more risk from your septic tank than you do manure.

Jon Hoek

Anonymous said...

Karen,

You didn't publish my post? How come?

Jon Hoek

kmyers said...

Hi Jon. Sorry for the really long delay. Something wierd happened to the blogging software when I switched server platforms and about 6 or 7 old comments disappeared -- then got "unstuck" and reappeared just a bit ago.

As for your comment, I distinctly recall asking if the pathogens in the manure would be destroyed before the manure would be spread on land in this area when I was at your Open House for the tour.

You answered no, and as I recall (correct me if I'm wrong) said that e. coli is not much of a problem, but salmonella in swine slurry is.

I'm just curious -- but have you ever tested your slurry before spreading to determine how many pathogens and/or drugs it may contain?

I'm not asking to be antagonistic. I'm just curious.

You see, I know Belstra specialized in feed long before they moved into CAFOs ...and I'm curious if, through this experience, you are able to control pathogens better through diet than most other swine CAFOs out there.