What Is a CAFO?

What Is a CAFO?

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Factory farms have a tendency to maneuver out and in of the general public consciousness. People turn into briefly alarmed at information of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or epidemics. But they proceed to buy cheap meat on the grocery retailer as headlines change to different subjects. CAFOs, the official time period for industrial-scale meat-growing services, have critical implications for animal rights, environmental air pollution, and even environmental justice. Although CAFOs produce practically all meat eaten in America, customers can discover higher choices.

What Is a CAFO?

CAFO stands for concentrated animal feeding operation (or generally confined animal feeding operation). In a telling element, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, moderately than the FDA, legally defines CAFOs.

It defines CAFO as any animal feeding operation the place:

  • Animals are saved and fed for 45 days or extra in a 12-month interval, and
  • Crops or vegetation are usually not sustained through the rising season over any portion of the ability.

CAFOs are categorized by the variety of animals maintained, with out regard to density, and by the strategy of wastewater discharge.

The first CAFOs developed within the Fifties to develop chickens. The apply unfold to the pork and beef industries within the Nineteen Seventies despite the fact that the EPA identified feedlots as point sources for air pollution within the 1972 Clean Water Act. CAFOs turned commonplace by the top of the 20th century. By 2011, four companies produced 81% of cows, 73% of sheep, 50% of chickens, and 60% of hogs eaten in America. CAFOs have only become more concentrated since then. Some species, like beef cattle, spend solely a brief interval in confinement earlier than slaughter. Others, like chickens and pigs, might spend their whole lives confined.

cattle in feedlot

Humane Issues

CAFOs can hurt the well being and welfare of each animals and folks. Proponents argue that confined animals obtain constant, high quality feed and safety from climate extremes. But the scale of confinement areas, that are regulated on the state level, will be appallingly small. It could also be onerous to quantify the impacts of boredom and stress from confinement, however they’re actual. Stress behaviors like tail biting have resulted within the routine docking of piglets’ tails in American swine operations. And stressed chickens interact in dangerous feather-pecking behaviors that business poultry farms forestall with the painful and much-criticized apply of beak trimming.

Close contact in crowded quarters drastically will increase the danger of infections. This has led to the widespread preventative use of antibiotics (that are additionally used to stimulate development) in CAFOs. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to the event of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, making outbreaks tougher to deal with. It additionally will increase the risk to humans, as many micro organism discovered on livestock (similar to Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter) may cause foodborne ailments in people.

Water Pollution

Most of the environmental points related to CAFOs are linked to the large quantities of manure which are generated in a comparatively small area. A big CAFO with 800,000 pigs may produce greater than 1.6 million tons of waste a 12 months. That’s one and a half occasions greater than the annual sewage produced by the town of Philadelphia.

As evidenced by the regulatory construction, water air pollution is the first concern. Cities have wastewater therapy services, however CAFO manure is collected in an open lagoon, the place solids settle to the underside and decompose anaerobically. The nutrient wealthy liquid layer is applied to fields as a fertilizer. Ground software requires applicable climate circumstances and may end up in overfertilization, stormwater and groundwater contamination by nitrogen, phosphorus, and pathogens. Lagoon failures launch untreated waste into close by areas.

Air surrounding CAFOs will be polluted with ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and particulate matter, all of which current human well being dangers to farmworkers and close by residents. Because CAFOs are geographically concentrated, a couple of communities are disproportionately impacted by them. The environmental justice impacts of CAFOs have an effect on public health in largely rural low-income communities and communities of colour.

Avoiding CAFO Meat

Most meat within the US is grown in manufacturing unit farms. Of course, consuming a vegan diet eliminates the problem of sourcing animal proteins. But meat eaters can discover humanely raised meats and more sustainable meat selections. Some grass-fed beef skips the feedlot on its approach to your plate; sustainable turkeys can be found in the event you look onerous sufficient; and also you may even develop your individual backyard chickens for meat or eggs. If you’ll be able to’t develop your individual, attending to know your native farmer on the farmers market or specialised butcher is the easiest way to supply meat.

To assist be sure that all meat is grown extra humanely, let your representative in Congress know that you just assist the Pigs in Gestation Stalls (PIGS) Act, H.R. 2939, to ban gestation crates for breeding sows. Look up your state’s rules and phone your state legislators to assist humane requirements. Even in the event you dwell in a state the place CAFOs are usually not frequent, your state may, like Washington, ban the sale of inhumanely grown merchandise no matter the place the animal was grown.