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Factory hog farmers are having a terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad week for an awful lot of reasons. Already in the news was the earmark for a pig poop study that Republicans were having a cow (or a pig?) over.

Next Nicholas Kristof took them on for overuse of nontherapeutic antibiotics. Meanwhile, Louise Slaughter's gearing up to reintroduce a bill banning several classes of antibiotics from nontherapeutic use in livestock (i.e. giving drugs to the animals when they aren't even sick).

But then - to kick 'em while they were down - last night HBO aired Death on a Factory Farm, with undercover footage of a factory hog farmer showing absolute utter cruelty. It was so graphic and awful that Eddie C said he's ashamed to be in the same species as the people in the documentary. That's how I feel.

I'm going to group all factory farms together here, not just hog farms. But what does this picture add up to?

Factory farms:

  • Stink in a very serious way, lowering the value of homes around them without compensating their neighbors for the loss in their property values or the effects on their health
  • Pollute waterways with manure runoff and add to the dead zones off our coasts
  • Contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, not only with CO2 but with methane (~ 20x worse than CO2) and nitrous oxide (~300x worse than CO2)
  • Spread disease to wild animals and to humans (both feedlot and slaughterhouse workers as well as consumers)
  • Contribute to antibiotic resistance and make human medicine less effective
  • Torture animals
  • Produce inferior quality meat that leads to human health problems

Why do these things exist? Seriously? Why? Because of an implicit agreement that we don't want to know so we don't feel guilty for eating cheap meat, and they don't want us to know so they can keep making money? I think if we really shined a light on this issue and examined it, we'd find a solution far better for all of us. Sweden did, as I wrote in a diary long ago.

Sweden (I think it was Sweden) came up with a way to raise hogs that:

  • Had less odor than factory farms
  • Allowed the hogs happier, more natural lifestyles, which made them healthier (needing less antibiotics, and with lower mortality)
  • Made the hogs easier for humans to work with, i.e. if humans needed to move the hogs into a trailer, lowering the "need" for animal cruelty
  • Partially composts the manure so that it could be sold and used
  • Requires no electric heating, cooling, or ventilation

I don't know about the incidence of MRSA or the quality of the meat, but already - doesn't this look like a good idea? It's being done in the U.S. by at least a few people.

I think Louise Slaughter's bill is a start. I think it's important to call our reps and ask them to co-sponsor her bill (The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act). I think it's great that HBO showed its documentary. I think it's fantastic that Kristof wrote his piece in the New York Times. But I think we need more.

We need laws calling for the humane treatment of agricultural animals. OK, not laws requiring farmers to treat them like pets or name them or play fetch with them. But how about a law saying that animals who cannot walk must be euthanized humanely, not hung from a chain on a forklift, kicking in agony while they suffocate? Or a law that you can't pick up a piglet by its ears and throw it?

I'm sorry but there's no economic argument that either of those actions are necessary. There just isn't. Even if it WAS more profitable, that STILL doesn't make it acceptable. Obviously it's more profitable to put melamine in our milk but we don't allow that, do we?

I believe that factory farms need to go away altogether. Chipping away at them with animal welfare standards like those in California's Prop 2 or bills like Louise Slaughter's is a start, but it's not enough. The issue isn't just the cruelty, or the stench, or the public health risk, or the environmental hazards. It's all of it. All of it together, and it adds up to a conclusion that factory farms should have no place in our agricultural system. Period.

(On an unrelated note - I highly recommend checking out Joanne Rigutto's story about her emu who was raised by a wolf - cutest pictures EVER and definitely necessary after thinking about the horrors of factory farms)

Originally posted to OrangeClouds115 on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:16 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  An interesting surname (13+ / 0-)

      considering the topic under consideration.

      Children need people to love them. It doesn't matter what's between their legs or under their shirts, in matters what's in their heads and in their hearts.

      by plf515 on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:20:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You don't want to pay discount rates for sushi... (10+ / 0-)

      ...do you?

      Why, then, would we want to pay discount rates for hamburger, bacon, pork chops or any other meat that we eat?

      I was raised in Nebraska during the full force of the Family Farm Act - for years after moving to New England I couldn't bring myself to eat what they were selling as "meat" in the local grocery stores.

      Unfortunately times have changed...but maybe they can change again and we'll get to eat food we're not ashamed of.

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:24:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to be too much of an ass but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane

        I am always ashamed when I hear stories of how serial killers(like George W) like to kill animals as children and we all don't make connections to our meals and our wars. People are ok with killing animals "the right way" just as they are ok with killing humans "in the name" of something. Eating the dead flesh of an animal should always make you wonder what makes you ashamed.

        "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

        by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:50:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The difference is (0+ / 0-)

          the people being killed by wars are able to fend for themselves.

          Husbanded animals are not.

          Just so long as you are OK with husbanded animals going extinct.

          •  "people being killed in wars... (0+ / 0-)

            ...are able to fend for themselves." Wow. Never thought a sentence like that would be typed by anyone outside of the Bush whitehouse! Sure. They are DEAD! I guess that statement only makes sense if they are DEAD! So, yes, folks killed can fend for themselves. Um, I guess you have that correct. Anyhooo...

            Um, it may be like the small time asshole that breeds white lions for his circus. In the wild, they mostly die off because they are not so good at hiding. Yes, they may have the very short intestines of a meat eater, but damn, they can't hunt b/c of their color. So, no meat to eat. But this asshole likes to profit from them in his circus. 'merr-cans just love them some weird lookin' beast. Nature already dictates what makes it and was does not. Man for his own selfish pleasure tries to manipulate this. Get it?

            "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

            by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:38:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Just go to the "Old Fish" Sushi Restaurant. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bebacker, TheFatLadySings

        By using the materials in the restaurant's name, they are able to undersell their competition.
        Of course, eating old fish is likely to make you sick.
        And your point is?

        Yet we are willing to eat badly treated and badly handled poultry and meat, as long as it is cheap.

        Ironic?

        "So, Pal, now tell me: What did YOU do to help the least among your people?" "Well, ummm, Mr. God, Sir..."

        by lurkersince03 on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:05:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Everything should be done with competence (8+ / 0-)

      Cruelty, laziness, stupidity, and/or waste are hallmarks of incompetent manufacturing operations. It's the difference between a Toyota Camry and a Lada.

      My frustration is that I have studied manufacturing processes for nearly 2 decades and we know how to run good businesses. They don't cost any more - in fact, they are far cheaper to operate and they produce far more valuable outputs.

      But many large organizations seem to give incompetent dolts a safe place to hide and thrive. Then the incompetent dolts hire other incompetent dolts and use the sheer scale of the operation to cover up their basic lack of skill.

      Pisses me off.

      -2.38 -4.87: Republican's definition of being a Republican = !Democrat

      by grapes on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:38:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Incompetence: applying manure on frozen ground (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OrangeClouds115, Rick Winrod, Losty

        There is currently an effort in Iowa to ban this practice. When the snow melts or it rains, the manure runs off polluting the water since it cannot be incorporated into frozen soil. It is state incompetence that this practice was not banned years ago. It is farmer incompetence that they do this and allow the manure, a valuable fertilizer, to be washed away.

        •  It is banned here in Oregon (4+ / 0-)

          as a CAFO, we are not allowed to apply anything to frozen or saturated ground, nor anywhere near where water is likely to run.

          And, as you point out, any decent farmer would not want to waste such a valuable resource.

          But it is not likely a state problem.  The Feds should tighten up, and the states have no choice but to follow suit.

      •  Actually, the Lada is built like a tank. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Got a Grip

        Between the Russian climate and the need for the cars to last much longer (they don't buy and sell cars like we do), those things last forever, even if you have to hold them together with duct tape by the end of its life.  Inelegant as though they may be, those are some hardcore automobiles.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 10:19:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But it's too small to make a good tank ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico

          and very poorly made for a car.

          I take your point about the Lada's suitability for its market. But it was a lousy car and the factories that made it and its parts were all too often inefficient, unsafe and cesspools of utterly needless pollution.

          Toyota is arguably the gold standard of mass equipment production. They are fanatic about quality and the elimination of waste of all forms.

          Nothing is less green than a car part that took a lot of time, materials and energy to make - then has to melted down for scrap because it was defective.

          -2.38 -4.87: Republican's definition of being a Republican = !Democrat

          by grapes on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 10:44:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I certainly won't disagree with you (0+ / 0-)

            as far as Toyotas go - my Corolla was the best car a person could want as far in terms of reliability - but I've seen Ladas older than my parents that are still chugging along just fine.  You can ram those things into a brick wall and they'll still run like the day you bought them, i.e. not as good as most cars initially but destined to outlive even the cockroaches.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:29:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  She's a strong progressive. (4+ / 0-)

      She was one of the first Congressmen to reach out to us, and she continues to be a strong voice for progressive values.

    •  No, it was a VERY bad day for Sweden. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OrangeClouds115

      You might not want to read this...

      Pigs boiled alive at Swedish meat plants.

      Normally, Swedish meat is very high quality, as you say, so this is, hopefully, very limited. I'll try to follow the story to see what becomes of it. Jail might be nice-surely laws were broken, quite sure of that.

      I'd love a link to diary you mentioned if you have one.

      Listen to Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions. (mp3!)

      by borkitekt on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 09:52:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent as always (5+ / 0-)

    and extra recs for the Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No good very bad day reference.

    Children need people to love them. It doesn't matter what's between their legs or under their shirts, in matters what's in their heads and in their hearts.

    by plf515 on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:19:05 PM PDT

  •  No fan of factory farms,,, (8+ / 0-)

    but I do know of a few that are run really well.  Clean, clean, clean and they treat their animals well.

    On the other hand, have you ever driven past the feedlots in NM?  Holy hell, cows are out in open air and the smell will follow you for miles.

    Any time you group hundreds/thousands of pigs, cows, horses, chickens, goats, etc together, you are going to have manure issues.  Unless you put the larger livestock on land equaling an acre per.

    As far as the antibiotics in feed, this has been a major problem for years and years.  

    Every horse owner I've ever known has fed their weanlings milk replacer.  Think of it as powdered milk.  I used to give it to every horse I owned, no matter the age.  It gave them a bloom - made the coat glow in the dark.  Everybody used it.

    But no more.  We haven't been able to buy it without antibiotics in years.  The feed mills just automatically put the drugs in there.

    "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine 4240+ dead Americans. Bring them home.

    by Miss Blue on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:24:21 PM PDT

    •  If you end up killing beings (0+ / 0-)

      you are not treating them well. Simple knowledge of language is all we ask.

      "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

      by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:30:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sigh (8+ / 0-)

        Ranch girl here, and I'm sorry very much but I completely 100% disagree with you.

        I have no problem raising livestock for food, as you obviously do.  I do have a problem with farmers/ranchers treating them like crap while they are alive.

        I'm quite sure our definition of "treating them like crap" will be quite different, as well.

        "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine 4240+ dead Americans. Bring them home.

        by Miss Blue on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:40:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Killing something is not treating it (0+ / 0-)

          in any other manner than "like crap." How could you ever have a different definition?

          "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

          by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:42:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  btw, is your "sigh" because you are so (0+ / 0-)

          tired of having to justify death?

          "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

          by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:42:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (6+ / 0-)

            My sigh signifies my extreme boredom with idiocy.

            "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine 4240+ dead Americans. Bring them home.

            by Miss Blue on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:49:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  what are you defining as idiocy? (0+ / 0-)

              My understanding that killing is not our right?! Please explain.

              "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

              by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:52:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not going to explain... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bronte17, Catesby, Prairie Gal

                anything to you.  You've shown yourself to be a pissy judgmental insulting boob.

                What was I defining as idiocy?  You.

                "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine 4240+ dead Americans. Bring them home.

                by Miss Blue on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:02:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wow. Once again a propenent of killing (0+ / 0-)

                  tells me I am being "judgmental"!!!!! I do not judge. You want to know why?! I don't kill. I don't eat things that have to be killed. Is that not the ultimate judgment? Thanks for projecting like a good little neo-con though. Thanks for not having a discussion. I would have liked to. I would have loved to have a nice discussion with you. Instead, you devolved, almost from the start, to name calling and lies. Thanks for showing what goes on in the killing industry!

                  "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

                  by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:09:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Killing (0+ / 0-)

                    Jainism is one of the oldest religions. Jains believe that every living being has a soul, even insects and microbes, and every soul is devine. One of the Jains ethical principles is to cause no harm to living beings. Some Jains wear masks to avoid breathing in and accidentally killing a gnat. I respect the Jains' beliefs, but I do not subscribe to them.

                    According to my ethical beliefs, it's O.K. to swat mosquitoes or shoot deer. (I don't shoot deer, but I'm glad hunters do because they are overpopulated where I live.) I'm also happy to eat venison when my nephew serves it. At the Mexican restaurant I might order carnitas, even though that perpetuates the stinky hog factories. I'm trying to reduce my meat consumption, but it's hard to change life-long habits,

                    I respect your values and appreciate your contribution to reducing the problems associated with the meat industry. We live in a pluralistic society. We can't expect everyone to become vegans or Jains, but we can reduce the problems on a macro level by reducing meat consumption.

                    •  a. not hard to change your "habits" (0+ / 0-)

                      b. if we did not kill all of the wolves and other creatures that made suburban life "difficult" we would not have an overpopulation of deer.
                      c. Humans need to learn from their mistakes.
                      d. all of the above are not difficult

                      "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

                      by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 08:07:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  God grief. The proportion of PETA types (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Miss Blue, cocinero

                  to "obnoxious posters" seems to be abnormally high, on KOS.

                   You almost can bet on the correlation, sadly.
                   

                  •  no reason for you to say this (0+ / 0-)

                    what are you talking about? B/c you eat meat you are offended at my words? What are you talking about? Mentioning PETA???

                    "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

                    by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:49:59 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  If I may (4+ / 0-)

                Not killing is your luxury today.

                I'm not knocking it, 'cause I'm a vegetarian today too, but I don't kid myself. I can afford to protest the treatment of animals destined to wind up on somebody's table because I have readily available alternatives for sustenance.

                I'd revert to doing whatever I needed to do to survive, including killing animals, if my life absolutely depended on it.

                •  but kimberley your life will never have to! (0+ / 0-)

                  I have no idea what scene you are trying to paint. Really. Is it some odd religious end of world thing? Would an elephant ever come to your conclusion? If you found yourself in a dire situation where shit was on fire all around you and the world was crumbling, I can bet you would find something to eat that you would not have to wrestle.

                  "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

                  by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:14:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And I would attempt to eat what I could (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Prairie Gal

                    without having to harm another animal. But if I'm starving, all bets are off. I am an omnivore - as are a great many animals that don't ordinarily eat meat.

                    My point to you was that you may want to ratchet down your criticisms because the truth is that we have so many different kinds of food transported and imported into our lives nowadays that few people in this country are forced to betray their convictions about sparing animals.

                    •  sorry but....For someone to come to a truth (0+ / 0-)

                      about life and what they do as a being to be altered by a ticking time bomb argument is so damn sad. Cheney? Is that you?! If the horrible foods that we are fed stop and we are left with only what is around us, being vegan most likely will be your only option! Natural plant food is EVERYWHERE! Why would you choose to make a strawman argument about having to eat the roving dogs and cats to survive?! Silly. Kimberley, you are just being silly, right?

                      "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

                      by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:28:46 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  I would like to ask you (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cocinero

                how many livestock species you are keeping alive, with all their costs, out of the goodness of your heart.

                It must be a lot, with all the passion you have for the subject.

  •  OC, I was a farmer most of my (12+ / 0-)

    life, and will be again someday soon, and I can think of nothing on earth more disgusting or inhumane than a factory farm, whatever the animal involved.  They also destroy the ability of small farms to compete effectively, and they besmirch the good name of small farmers with their unethical actions, not to mention bringing down regulatory hell that is unnecessary on small farms and will be one more nail in their coffin.

    There's no reason for this.  If nothing else, if you care about the food you put in your mouth (and your children's mouths) you'll not only support good legislation like this, but you'll actively seek out local area farms and farmer's markets to find good food, raised in clean and humane conditions.

    Thanks, OC, for all the good work you do on this issue.

    Calling bullshit on "bracing rhetorical thrusters" since Fall 2006....

    by Got a Grip on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:27:58 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary... (6+ / 0-)

    I grew up raising sheep and cattle on a small farm (~300 head of feeder cattle and a few dozen sheep for a 4-H project) and these factory farms just make me wretch.  I now live in a northern suburb of Denver, and when the wind is in the right direction, we can smell the feedlots in Greely, about 50 miles away.  Unfortunately, I think this is a lost cause.  Especially when the economy is in the toilet.

  •  thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrangeClouds115, Rick Winrod

    old news though. I applaud Food inc. and Death on a factory farm. These abuses have been shown over and over for many, many years. When I saw Sam Seder and Marc Maron talking about these two films I understood that folks are finally willing to listen. If you care about life- all of it- Go VEGAN!

    "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

    by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:29:23 PM PDT

    •  btw orangeclouds, you need to take a look at (0+ / 0-)

      what folks are downrating. unreal. Every damned time someone brings up not eating meat, names are called(by meateaters) and what is said is edited. Tired of it. The reason I continually leave this site for months at a time. Tiring

      "How far up your ass do these guys dicks need to be before you realize they're fucking you?"- Bill Hicks -9.62, -9.23

      by bebacker on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 08:15:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What did we gain by the (6+ / 0-)

    national cheap food policy?   More food, more cars, more crap, and higher health care costs.  And more opportunities for "Wall St" to bamboozle and rip us off.

    Small scale farming can be almost as productive as factory farms and healthier for the land, animals and humans.

    What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

    by Marie on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:35:50 PM PDT

  •  Pig Shit (5+ / 0-)

    Been on my mind for years.

    Damining article from 2006

    I get angry every time Dems ignore it. Which they do.

    Pig Shit producers also have money, and the money lets them pay politicians to overlook this: (from the article).

    Industrial pig waste also contains a host of other toxic substances: ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, phosphorous, nitrates and heavy metals. In addition, the waste nurses more than 100 microbial pathogens that can cause illness in humans, including salmonella, cryptosporidium, streptocolli and girardia. Each gram of hog shit can contain as much as 100 million fecal coliform bacteria.

    Family farmers barely make enough to survive.

  •  Factory farms are not going away. (4+ / 0-)

    I live within 5 miles of about 30,000 hogs, so I am very aware of the problems they cause (especially when the wind is from the south). My number one concern is that they should be required to control the air and water pollution they produce. Factory farms get away with pollution that would not be allowed by any industrial factory. (At least that's the case in Iowa.) By the way, open cattle feedlots are as bad as hog confinements, and chicken and turkey operations can be bad too.

    My second concern has to do with food safety. Louis Slaughter's bill is may help with the antibiotic problem, and we can expect stricter regulation and better inspections from an Obama USDA.

    The best solution for the greenhouse gas problem is for people to simply eat less meat. A low-carbon diet is also a healthy diet.

    Humane treatment is necessary, but free-range practices are not necessarily the answer. With better regulation, it may be easier to control pollution from animals in a confinement, and free-range animals produce greenhouse gases the same as confined animals.

    •  I am an Oregon CAFO (6+ / 0-)

      in spite of having 50 head of sheep grazing on 50 acres.  I milk more than 40 days of the year, so I had to become a CAFO.

      Now I do not know how other states interpret the CAFO requirements, but I should imagine that it's fairly similar.

      Under CAFO, we are required to gather up every scrap of poop, every drop of urine, and every bit of rainwater that falls on an impervious surface where our stock have access to - even if it's only for one day a year.  We are then to dispose of it isn a safe manner - usually to our own fields.

      The volume and the nutrients of all this waste is calculated, and you have to come up with a very detailed plan for managing itand applying it to the land.

      You are not allowed to apply liquid or solid waste on saturated ground, nor are you allowed to apply it anywhere near a watercourse.  And you have to keep the nutrients applied in balance with soil tests where you are applying it.  I am a computer programmer and developer by trade, and I find the requirements tough going.

      If you think that any CAFO is discharging into the local waters, that is so totally against the law, and you should report them to your local Department of Agriculture.

      •  Iowa is much more lax in its regulations (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        judith2007

        I'm pretty sure you would not be considered a CAFO in Iowa. I don't know about sheep, but it takes 1000 cattle or 2500 hogs to be covered by Iowa regulations, and enforcement is very lax. Nothing is ever done unless there's a huge manure spill that kills a bunch of fish, and somebody notices.

    •  Genetically engineered pigs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OrangeClouds115

      There was a picture a while ago of pigs with green skin. Agribusiness WILL always find a way to make money, that's what they do. I can't imagine what they are dreaming up for us next..the best thing we can do is cut down on meat consumption.

      We eat more meat than most countries do on a per capita basis and aren't healthier for it.

      (BTW. Methane is a much more harmful greenhouse gas to the planet than C02)

      Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

      by ohcanada on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:33:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hogs have been genetically modified... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ohcanada

        through breeding over the past 60 years or so. I remember when they were round and fat and produced lots of lard. Lard was an essential for any frying or baking. Now hogs are long and lean with meat that has much less saturated fat.

  •  Thank you (6+ / 0-)

    for identifying the culprits as foctory farms, not CAFOs anymore.

    Coming from a pasture-raising, animal-loving, hand-feeding CAFO dairy like myself.

    Although I agree with my CAFO agent that bad smells do not necessarily equate to a smell being bad for you, there is enough evidence that any ammonia, at least in lambs, is a contributor to pneumonia.

    I have read the Swedish studies on pig bedding, and have applied their deep bedding principles to my sheep farm.  If I go in the barn and smell anything but sweet hay, another big pile of straw is going on.  Of course, it costs.  I foot of hay over a barn of any reasonable size is going to be more than loose change.

    But it is cheaper and just much more humane than living with the costs of stock loss.  I don't know how some of these pig farms do it.  Perhaps their losses from ammonia fumes are not as great.

    The antibiotic thing is something I understand as it improves average weight.  Many of my neighbors do it, although I do not.  But I do not raise my livestock for meat, nor is my farm marginal.  I am small enough I know every animal's medical needs and can isolate them if they have problems.  But this is also because I tag every single animal, from 2 days from birth.

    Many of my neighbors raise 50-100 head of sheep or cattle for the meat market, and their margins are very thin.  They are already both farming and working a full-time job.  I guess we cannot blame them for taking what advantage they can.

    So how do we take the profit out of it, while giving these farmers an equal playing field?

    And hello from my latest bottle lamb:
    Noisy

  •  I grew up in the Midwest during the 1950's and .. (5+ / 0-)

    1960's.  Back then, virtually every farmer had hog fencing up around all of his fields, and ran hogs in the field after the harvest was completed.  The hogs consumed the corn or soybeans that had been missed during harvesting, and fertilized the land in the process.  That produced less of a need to purchase petroleum-based fertilizers for the next year, and it scattered the hog feces around where the fertilized the land, rather than polluting the streams.  

    I was stunned when I spent a month in Iowa before the 2008 caucuses to not see even one hog in the fields, although I saw numerous hog confinements.  My relatives still living in Iowa tell me that the  hog excrement is now stored in gigantic lagoons that periodically rupture into streams, causing pollution many miles downstream.  Why is this being done?  Because somebody figured out that pork could be produced marginally more cheaply by confining hogs so that they can barely move during their entire lives, fertilizing the fields with petroleum (or natural gas) -based fertilizers, and simply forgetting about the corn or soybeans missed in the harvesting process.

    That's a sensible model, as long as petroleum and natural gas are cheap, as long as we don't care about the cruelty of confining very intelligent animals such as hogs in inhumane conditions for their entire lives, as long as we don't care much about water pollution, and as long as we don't care about encouraging antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Otherwise, it's probably not such a great idea.

    •  Well, that's not precise (3+ / 0-)

      whoever has the CAFO is responsible for what goes into their lagoons and other storage.  You have to have a place to apply it, whether it be your own fields or you sell it to someone else for fertilizer.

      But that requirement is the same of CAFOs where they confine their animals all year round, or they are on pasture all year round.

      Naturally, the most economic way of safely disposing of the waste is as fertilizer - either on your ground, or on someone else's.  It has value.  So I do not see why anyone who has a hog farm is fertilizing their fields with anything more than they would raising the hogs in the field.  Petroleum based fertilizers are expensive, and as a CAFO, you are required to have and follow a plan to dispose of your waste.  Anuually.  The shit just doesn't sit in a lagoon for eternity.

      I have my own lagoon (yes, for my pitiful 50 sheep), and I know the breach of my lagoon would have DIRE consequences - probably the loss of my license.  I am required to drain it and inspect it and make any repairs every year.

      Of course, some people do not, and disasters happen.  But that is no different from other people who skirt the law.

      They need to be reported.

  •  Here's an alternative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrangeClouds115, Rick Winrod

    to pork. Try tomatoes.

  •  I was too bummed out to watch (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrangeClouds115, FreeStateDem, Ebby

    Death on Factory Farm. I Tivo'd it and I'll watch it when my mood lightens up a bit.

    It was as awful as I thought it would be, huh?

    I meant to craft a polite letter to whomever might regulate the treatment of livestock on factory farms, after I watched it, to turn the viewing into something productive and (hopefully) helpful to those animals.

    I'm just so empathetic that I can't bear to watch it until I feel better about the world.  Kids and animals - my two plain ol' weak spots.

    •  I watched it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kimberley, OrangeClouds115

      The footage wasn't as bad as other footage I've seen. They showed a pig being euthanized by hanging...from a forklift. Also showed little pigs being thrown around like rag dolls into pens and trailers. I've seen much worse. Actually the worst part of it was what people said, rather than what they showed. For example, the vet who testified in court talking about various methods of euthanizing animals ("they blow their brains out").

      Basically it profiles an undercover farm investigator who gets jobs at factory farms and works there with a hidden camera attached to his clothes, gets some footage of animal abuse, and uses that to take these violators to court. The interesting part of it is the investigator, showing his background and why he does what he does, going around to all these farms and getting the footage. I won't give away the end, the court ruling.

      I haven't eaten meat in years. Just turkey on Thanksgiving.

  •  I boycott all Smithfield products. I buy from a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrangeClouds115

    local farmer.

  •  You wrote: (4+ / 0-)

    Sweden (I think it was Sweden) came up with a way to raise hogs that:

       * Had less odor than factory farms
       * Allowed the hogs happier, more natural lifestyles, which made them healthier (needing less antibiotics, and with lower mortality)
       * Made the hogs easier for humans to work with, i.e. if humans needed to move the hogs into a trailer, lowering the "need" for animal cruelty
       * Partially composts the manure so that it could be sold and used
       * Requires no electric heating, cooling, or ventilationz>>>

      My neighbors down the road two miles found a way to do this, for generations, when I lived in Central Iowa: They let the pigs run around outside in the fields!

      Wow. How unusual. ;-)

      They had little pig houses to shelter themselves from the heat of the day, but primarily they just frolicked in the fields, wallowed in the mud, and did all those other Happy Hog things they're inclined to do.

     I drove past their barns and their fields and their hogs nearly every day for ten years and never smelled anything unpleasant.

     Try saying THAT about any factory farm, eh?

     "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" would certainly seem to apply in this case.

  •  The easiest solution: be a vegan. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rick Winrod

    No more killing animals. No spreading e coli and mrsa.  No cruelty.  No animal caused health problems. Less pollution.  Less global climate change.  A better world.

  •  Bless you, dear OrangeClouds115 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrangeClouds115, borkitekt, Ebby

    Thank you.

    "Let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation." ~ Abraham Lincoln

    by noweasels on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 08:03:41 PM PDT

  •  I think corn prices will kill CAFO's (0+ / 0-)

    fine by me. THey are evil.

  •  Sorry I can't read your diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrangeClouds115, Ebby

    I've got that factory farm thing on my tivo, and I haven't gotten to it yet. Just wanted to stop in and say hi.

  •  Hey thanks for the diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrangeClouds115, judith2007, Ebby

    I really enjoyed the comments, and the link to the wolf/emu story. When I first moved to Riverside, CA, I noticed there was a strong cow smell at times. I thought they were just outside of town or something. Nope, they're in Chino, an hour drive away, in huge feedlots.

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    •  omg that is sick (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karl Rover, Ebby

      an hour away? I've heard about those feedlots. Haven't dared go near them. I have a very good sense of smell and it serves me very badly whenever I'm around that much animal poop.

      •  well, it wasn't constant (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OrangeClouds115, Ebby

        or anything, just when the wind was right you'd get a whiff. And very rare recently, as they have been encouraged to move because of rising land values, ground-water contamination, etc.

        •  long ago (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Karl Rover, Ebby

          Where I grew up there was a paper mill in the next town, 20 miles away. On foggy mornings you could smell it, and to drive by was torture. I still close the air vents on the car anytime I drive by, out of habit. But it doesn't really smell anymore. There were laws and regulations that forced them to stop polluting.
          Apparently the paper mill managed to clean up their act and stay profitable. I'm not sure the CFOs could stay in business if they had to stop polluting. It's not like they could just add chemical scrubbers to the smokestacks. I think that if we paid the real cost for industrial meat production it wouldn't be so cheap.

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