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The Facts about CAFOs, Local Control,
and Health Ordinances

by the Missouri Rural Crisis Center
Columbia, Missouri

Current State Standards are NOT Sufficient
for Industrial Livestock Operations

  • Current state standards would allow up to 17,499 hogs within 2000 feet of a residence. It allows an unlimited number of animals to be located 3000 feet from a residence.

  • According to an EPA study, a CAFO with 4,000 hogs can generate as much waste as a city of 16,000 people. A Class 1A CAFO (17,500 hogs and above) can generate as much waste as the city of St. Louis.

Health Risks of CAFOs are Well Documented

Scientists convened by the Centers for Disease Control and researchers from the University of Iowa and Iowa State agree that CAFO air emissions may in fact constitute a hazard to public health and worker health, finding increased nausea, headaches, brain damage, vomiting or diarrhea and even life-threatening pulmonary edema. The American Public Health Association has called for a moratorium on new CAFOS pending additional research on these documented risks.

  • A North Carolina study showed that a community living near a large-scale swine facility reported significantly greater frequency of headaches, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, burning eyes and diarrhea.

  • Iowa studies revealed that children living next to CAFOs have higher rates of asthma than do other farm children; and that 19.7% of children who attend schools near CAFOs had asthma, while only 7.3% of children attending school at least 10 miles from a CAFO had asthma.

Do CAFOs really mean Economic Development?

It matters who is producing the Livestock: corporate controlled livestock factories or independent family farms who spend their $’s locally, create jobs and know how to be good neighbors.

  • A Missouri study found that corporate contract operations create a net loss of employment. While creating 9 jobs for every 12,000 hogs produced, corporate contract operations displace 28 jobs.

  • When comparing an equal number of sows on corporate contract operations versus family farms, the family farm system creates: 10% more permanent jobs, a 20% larger increase in local retail sales and a 37% larger increase in local income per capita. The number of farmers raising hogs is more important than the number of hogs being produced.

  • Corporate concentration in the hog industry does not benefit consumers or independent producers. In the last 15 years, hog numbers in Missouri have stayed the same (2,700,000), while the number of hog farmers has decreased 85% from 15,000 to 2,200. From 1985-2005, the retail price of pork increased 75% from $1.62 to $2.83. During the same period, the hog producers’ share of the retail dollar decreased 30% from $.44 to $.31.

  • Comparing a CAFO County to a Health Ordinance Protected County: From 1996 to June 2006, the unemployment rate in Linn County decreased by 0.6% while the unemployment rate in neighboring Sullivan County increased by nearly 2.0%. Since Linn County enacted its health ordinance in 1997, it’s general revenue sales tax has increased 22%--without raising taxes. In comparison, according to the Sullivan County Clerk, “the financial condition of the county continues to decline at an alarming pace. If our sales tax revenues don’t recover soon, our 2006 budget will be doomed.”

  • CAFOs do not translate into Grain Production for Local Communities: A comparison between the three counties that produce the most CAFO hogs and three counties that have two or fewer CAFOs shows an increase in grain production in the non-CAFO counties of 6.21 million bushels while the CAFO counties show a decrease in grain production by 2.94 million bushels between 1985 and 2004.

Property Rights

  • The majority of livestock operations are independent family farms. (CAFOs make up less than 1/2 of 1% of Missouri’s farming operations.) Our elected representatives should be taking steps to protect the property rights of the majority of family farmers and rural landowners, not just the small number of CAFO operators.

  • A study by the University of Missouri found that property values near CAFOs decreased from 6.6% to 88% depending on property attributes and distance from the CAFO.

  • In the July 2001 Appraisal Journal, John Kilpatrick found that “while the appraisal profession has only begun to quantify the loss attributable to CAFOs, …diminished marketability, loss of use and enjoyment, and loss of exclusivity can result in a diminishment ranging from 50% to nearly 90% of otherwise unimpaired value.”

  • In September 2006, a Jackson County jury awarded $4.5 million to rural families whose freedom to enjoy their property had been violated by a Premium Standard Farms hog operation.

Can industrial livestock operations afford to be good neighbors?

Not according to industry leaders. After a 5-year $17.3 million effort to find alternative methods of treating hog waste, researchers identified five technologies that would be more environmentally friendly than the existing method. However, industry leaders say these technologies are not economically viable. Their position is that economic feasibility means no increased cost of doing business. Currently, no method is as cheap as digging a hole in the ground and filling it up with hog waste.

If you want …

  • Good Jobs
  • Clean Water and Air
  • Healthy Local Economies &
  • Good Neighbors

You need Independent Family Farms, Not Corporate Livestock Operations!

Also see:

First published in In Motion Magazine, December 12, 2005. Updated October 8, 2006

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