Pure Farms, Pure Waters: Taking on CAFOs

A quick glance at a map showing the concentration of CAFO, or concentrated animal feeding operations, facilities in North Carolina registers immediate alarm. Red dots, which represent each facility, so heavily populate certain areas that the map turns black with density. CAFOs animals live packed by the thousands in dirty, dark facilities awaiting a turn at the slaughterhouse. Not only do these animals lead foul lives absent of fresh air or light, but they also consume massive amounts of resources, which then translate to fouled water, land, and a public health nightmare.

Our partner, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and their Pure Farms, Pure Waters campaign has taken the initiative to lead a multi-faceted grassroots campaign to draw attention to the h563192_10151958550314653_1181175633_norrific standards of the industrial meat industry and effectively produce regulatory change. While CAFOs are a national issue, the industrial hog pollution in North Carolina warrants particular notice. We
are highlighting the area throughout July and beyond on our own social channels with the #MooreRivers campaign. The waste stemming from these “farms” continues to devastate local rivers, lakes, and estuaries. So far, eight Riverkeepers and numerous other organizations, such as the Sierra Club and Earthjustice, have joined Waterkeeper’s efforts in a campaign to exercise waste management solutions statewide.

What is truly disturbing here is the lack of action by government officials even after data regarding the hazards of these practices has been released. Scientists recently completed a three-year study testing normal waters against CAFOs-infested waters. Among their discoveries: 58% of CAFOs watersheds “had distinct differences in water quality reflecting swine and/or poultry manure effects.” Suggestions of water-quality regulations have always been met with fierce opposition, claiming threats to “family farms.” Only 14 of 2,000 swine CAFOs in North Carolina have been required to obtain a Clean Water Act permit. Sadly, the harsh reality of the situation is that we fish in, we swim in, and we consume food borne from these waters—waters dirtied by swine waste.

This is truly an urgent cause that deserves widespread attention. We cannot let this harmful industry degrade our own health and create miserable lives for farm animals. “Public health” has become a major buzzword in world media, yet many remain oblivious to the issue of CAFOs. As we push forward with #MooreRivers, we support the efforts of Waterkeeper in pushing for regulation and hope to awaken the public to this grave threat to health and the environment.

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