August 7th, 2013 News

August 7th, 2013


Taken from "How Do CAFOs Impact The Environment?" (EPA site):

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are facilities where large numbers of poultry, swine, cattle, or other animal types are confined within a much smaller area than traditional pasture operations. The concentration of the wastes from these animals increases the potential to impact air, water, and land quality. Failures to properly manage manure and wastewater at CAFOs can negatively impact the environment and public health. Manure and wastewater have the potential to contribute pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones and ammonia, to the environment. The environmental impacts resulting from mismanagement of wastes include, among others, excess nutrients in water (such as nitrogen and phosphorus), which can contribute to low levels of dissolved oxygen (fish kills), and decomposing organic matter that can contribute to toxic algal blooms. Contamination from runoff or lagoon leakage can degrade water resources, and can contribute to illness by exposing people to wastes and pathogens in their drinking water. Dust and odors can contribute to respiratory problems in workers and nearby residents.


-Runoff or seepage from manure application, or the dead pig composting facility, may reach our pristine lakes, wetlands, and/or filter into the aquifer where we obtain our drinking water. This may degrade water quality, promote weed growth, negatively impact local endangered, threatened, and rare plant, animal or fish species, and jeopardize human health. See USA Today article "Fish, Wildlife Affected by Contaminated Water"

-Surface, ground water, and the aquifer are interconnected, so contamination of one may reach the others. In "Status of Wetlands in Indiana," the DNR states "wetlands recharge the aquifers and groundwater systems that provide the water many of us get from our faucets."

A USGS report, "Natural Process of Ground / Surface Water Interaction," discusses how the aquifer can be contaminated.

-Manure and waste water includes dangerous substances. Animals in CFOs are often administered growth hormones and antibiotics, so diseases do not spread. Elevated level of nitrates have been linked to "blue baby" syndrome, as well as blue-green algae blooms that deprive the water of oxygen and can cause fish kills, skin rashes, illnesses in humans, and even death of pets. See "Death of a Lake - Toxic Algae Closes Grand Lake St. Mary's (OH)," in the August 29, 2010 edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Also, see USA Today article "Drugs In Tap Water"


1. Besides the obvious odors associated with a hog farm, we are concerned about toxic gases, vapors, and particles that are emitted from confined animal feeding operations. Studies report increased asthma rates, hazardous chemicals in the air (ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane), and airborne bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. See the comprehensive study written by the National Alliance of Local Boards of Health entitled, "Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations & Their Impact on Communities." or "Health Effects of Airborne Exposure from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations"

2. We are concerned about the handling of dead swine - diseased or otherwise. The permit application states dead pigs will be composted on site. Specifications for compost facility are not provided so we don't know how much risk is associated with potential leakage of fluid from diseased and decomposing material; how infestations of flies, rats, and other vermin will be prevented; or what will happen to the decomposed material after the compost facility is cleaned out. What will keep buzzards from carrying dead animals onto nearby properties? How will the bacteria be kept out of the soil and water?

3. We are concerned about property values and the impact of devalued assessments on already strained county revenue, and services provided by tax revenue. A report by the Indiana Business Research Center. "The Effect of Regulated Livestock Operations (RLOs) on Property Values in Selected Indiana Counties," is very informative: For non-town residential properties, every 100 market-mature hogs on RLOs within one mile reduce the sale price by $550. With 4,800 hogs, that would be a $26,400 average reduction. If county tax revenue goes down but costs go up (see #4, 5 and 6 below), all residents of Steuben County will be affected.

4. We are concerned about the heavy truck traffic and road maintenance on roads leading to and from the farm and impact on the county's road maintenance budget. A recent telephone call with the Steuben County Highway Superintendent revealed that chip and seal is currently approximately $17,000 per mile and that paving is currently approximately $75,000 per mile. He did not feel that chip and seal would be sufficient in this instance.

5. We are concerned about the health and safety of those who work at the CAFOs, as well as the increased costs of, and probable need for, social services. Often these workers are immigrants and may develop serious heath problems because of the conditions under which they work. How will these costs be covered?

6. We are concerned for the small and medium-sized hog farmers who are often put out of business by these large, industrial farms. "The Hidden Costs of CAFOs" by the Union of Concerned Scientists USA is a though-provoking article.

7. We are concerned with the effect this could have on tourism in Steuben County. The issues outlined above could negatively affect tourism and our local economy in many ways. Tourism in Steuben County is a large impactful industry that is served by many small to medium businesses within that industry as well as the hundreds of employees they hire. If tourism is impacted this will not only just affect tax bases but will also likely affect employment levels, further straining the County economy.

We encourage you to do your own research on CAFOs, and send links to us. In addition to materials quoted in this information sheet, you may find the following helpful:

-Indiana CAFO Watch

-Socially Responsible Agriculture

-"Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), Assessment of Impact on Health, Local Economies, and the Environment" -a report by the Institute of Science, Technology, and Public Policy

-Risk Assessment Evaluation of CAFOs (by the EPA)

This has been compiled by Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium, LLC, to educate and provide details about CAFOs in general and to outline concerns about the potential negative impact the proposed CAFO could have on the environment, economy and public health in Steuben County. The SLEC intends on enlisting many experts to better fully understand the issues.

Our website is designed to provide continuing information, meeting notices, and provide ways for you to get involved as well as reach well informed decisions. We are a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to further shared interests in our cherished natural resources and responsible business development within Steuben County. This includes preserving and improving, our lakes, streams, and rivers through responsible environmental management, which support strong property values, provide recreational opportunities and help to attract business and tourism investment in our community.

If you wish to support our efforts and help with mounting professional expenses and costs, please visit our website where you can make a fully tax-deductible contribution.


A wholly owned subsidiary of Fawn River Restoration and Conservation Charitable Trust

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