Manure is a resource when it is the output of sustainable and diverse farms. It becomes a pollutant when it is the output of a CAFO due to the scale and the additives. The CAFO is a creature of the corporate state facilitated from a long line of farm bills. An ounce of subsidy prevention is worth a pound of pollution cure. End the farm bills and all farm subsidies as well as the USDA and state farm agencies. The bureaucrats can learn how to farm back on the land under the apprenticeship of organic farmers.
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I agree with Alex below. Throughout history, people have sought to "change the language" in an effort to re-craft facts. Manure is manure is manure: Whether it comes from 1 million cows under a single roof or 1 cow on a million pieces of property. You don't get to change the terminology because it doesn't fit with your "vision" of the situation.In my home state, about 25 percent of the cows are CAFO cows. They are heavily monitored and regulated. The other 75 percent are unregulated, "small" farms. If you're trying to say that the "solution" is to tighten the regs on the minority number, which already is under scrutiny, while ignoring the other million ... then you're really not offering any solution at all.When ALL cows are faced with the CAFO standards, then you'll see the dial move. Consumers will have to pay more to help smaller farmers achieve compliance, but if we're serious about solutions, then we have to be realistic about responsibilities and costs.
Some good solid points expressed but little in the way of options to address the problem. Anaerobic BioDigesters can be utilized which will reduce the potential for lake contamination, reduce CO2 emission while at the same time recovering a clean energy source. It is high time for the EPA 503 biosolids standards to be rewritten so as to provide some protection of our environment especially the food production environment. It is well established that the USEPA and FDA approved diversion of toxic wastes to the food production environment has been a disaster fomented by corporate agricultural interests. Heavy metals and other chemicals of concern should by tightly regulated and tested for to demonstrate product is safe before application to farmlands or gardens.
Alex, the issue is not manure. As Laura points out animal manures-- uncontaminated by synthetic industrial chemicals-- have been used for thousands of years to enrich soil. The issue is contaminated manure as well as human feces and urine contaminated by antibiotic resistant pathogens and a complex mixture of thousands of industrial chemicals, some extremely hazardous, persistent, and able to magnify in the food chain. Sewage treatment simply moves these toxic chemicals from urban areas via land-applied sludge (biosolids) to relatively pristine rural areas where they sicken people, animals, and pollute the environment. Research has shown that neither CAFO manure, nor sludge are good for the soil. Applying sludge to land is not recycling. It's pollution transfer. Does it really make sense to spend billions of dollars to build and upgrade sewage treatment plants so they do a better job REMOVING urban industrial waste from sewage, but then spread these same pollutants, concentrated in sludge ( i.e. biosolids) on our dwindling arable land where they adversely affect human health, agriculture, and the environment? Soils should be preserved for future generations. They should not be used as a repository for our nation's hazardous waste. For documentation, visit www. biosolidsfacts.org and www.sludgenews.org
I want to thank you for a well balanced article, with one exception. You stated that CAFO waste is "not manure." Then what exactly is it? I understand you attempt at making a distinction between a large number of animals and a family farm. However, the issue is a matter of handling rather than hyperbole.
The issue is either (a) too many nutrients in too small of an area or (b) the nutrients are not being handled properly. My company processes CAFO manure into an easy to use granulated fertilizer that is better for the environment than synthetic fertilizers in that it builds the soil so the soil can feed the plant.
If only we could see the CAFO's as a valuable resource rather than something to be hated. Again, you made some good points with your article. Now I see an opportunity for someone to come in and solve the problem by properly handling the waste products so that the area becomes MORE sustainable rather than less.
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The United States of Toxins in Graphic Relief