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Part III of do don’t even know how many!  This one is for all of you (well some of you, that believe numbers can be rearranged, distorted, have different definitions to support whatever it is you want to get people to believe.  And you will say, hey here’s some more.

What I hear lately is that 87 and possibly 95% of the Animal Farming Operations (AFO), differentiated by the EPA from the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) which accommodates greater than 1000 animals in a facility or greater than 300 if they pollute directly into a body of water.  Yes, “discharge pollution directly into a body of water“! And the definitions vary by state as they determine what a AFO/CAFO is.  So regardless of the numbers and who determines the construct that quantifies and defines, the toll this type of operation is taking on our environment is staggering (see part IV to come).

Early 2000’s study of farms- Delaware USDA National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
Type                                             Quantity     % of total            
Commercial farms                   119,702       9%                                                                                          Total agricultural sales (crops and livestock) above $250,000 and farms with less than $250,000 in total agricultural sales if farming or ranching was reported as the principal occupation of the operator and the type of farm organization was other than an individual, family, or partnership.  Commercial farms with confined livestock types   62% of their total             Type                                            Quantity       % of total                                                Intermediate farms                549,486        42%                                                                            Total agricultural sales below $250,000 and the principal occupation of the operator was farming or ranching                                                                                                                                 Most intermediate farms had pastured livestock types and few other livestock – 58% of their total                                                                                                                                                    Type                                            Quantity       % of total
Rural-residence farms           645,702        49%                                                                             total agricultural sales below $250,000 and the principal occupation of the operator was not farming or ranching
Most rural residence farms were either farms with few livestock – 40% of their total
1,314,890 farms in total                                                                                                               Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Designations (of all farms with confined livestock types)
Commercial farms                                                                                                                                     11,398 5% Over 1000 – potential CAFOs of all farms with confined livestock types
16,765 7% Over 750 but under 1000 – potential CAFOs
26,607 11% Over 500 but under 750 – potential CAFOs
44,366 19% Over 300 but under 500 – potential CAFOs
Total: 99,136  and 42%
Nearly all potential CAFOs in all four groups were commercial farms.

Profile of Farms with Few Livestock – Most (71%) of the 361,031
257,333 Farms with few livestock were rural-residence farms
97,468 Intermediate farms
6,230 Commercial farms
The majority (84%) had total agricultural sales below $10,000.

“Gross livestock sales for farms with few livestock totaled $776 million
less than 1% of livestock (cattle (all types) sales for all farms with livestock”
Total Sales Avg/Sales
361,031 $48,000,000.00 $2,149.00
$8,000.00 95%% of farms livestock sales
$2,450.00 75% of farms livestock sales
$900.00 for 50% of farms livestock sales
$0.00 0% for 34% the farms livestock sales

My point being is that just because the family farms may make up a huge number of the farms, the total of their impact in total numbers do not compare, especially as it concerns the highly volatile byproduct of shit (yes, i may say it once every blog). Sure some of the waste can and is used to spread as fertilizer on land to increase the soils fertility. But when 500 hogs can create more waste than a city of 20,000 and Cattle produce enough to cover the united states each day, and there is no comprehensive requirement to mitigate the destruction it causes to our country, we all should be screaming!!! But out of sight, out of mind. I am attempting to bring this into focus and on the forefront of your mind.

Thank you.

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I ran across an article in the Journal Sentinel yesterday titled “One-third of wells in Kewaunee County unsafe for drinking water” where the Wisconsin County has;

  • 15 large-scale dairy farms, known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations)
  • 98,000 cattle in the county (64% increase from 1983) The number of cows outnumber the inhabitants
  • 700 or more milking cows per farm.
  • 34% of the 320 randomly tested wells did not meet health standards for nitrates and total coliform, both of which can be found in manure(an increase from the countywide volunteer testing 2004-2015 29% of 620 wells)
  • Cattle waste exceeds that of the total human population of Milwaukee (and is not cleaned by sewage treatment plants)
  • 6 environmental groups petitioned the U.S. EPA to investigate water contamination (farmers opposed the petition)

BBC Report below …over 60% of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said that certain regions are not adequately protecting the drinking water supplies. Although it has been stated that it is too early to blame the cattle and their manure for these issues.

In a seemingly odd agreement and vote by the Kewanee county voters, they approved a halt to the spreading of manure between Jan 1st to April 15th.  So what happens?  The cattle also stop?  Where does it go?  It is retained in the pools of poop! Drive down I-65 south of Merrillville Indiana on the east side of the road between Crown Point and Rose lawn and you will see the newly constructed retention pond for animal waste (in this case I believe it is for swine).

In a BBC research report from the National Academy of Sciences, the bottom line was like this; “The overall environmental footprint of beef is particularly large because it combines a low production efficiency with very high volume,” said Prof Mark Sutton, from the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.  “The result is that the researchers estimate that over 60% of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef. Although the exact numbers will be different for Europe (expecting a larger role of dairy), the overall message will be similar: Cattle dominate the livestock footprint of both Europe and US.”

As mentioned in my first post, I grew up most of my preteen and teenage years on a 20 acre farm.  In my mid to late teens, a hatchery for baby chicks and a large chicken farm for production of eggs was being built (I was employed during the construction there).  This chicken farm would house over 1 million chickens on the over 10 main egg production farms.  This farm is less than 1 mile from where my mother resides today, and where I was raised.  My mother still has the well from which was and still is today our/her only source of water to drink. She has had it tested on her own at the neighboring county hospital and has told me that there were no irregularities.  She has yet provided me with the test results and the specific harmful water contaminants which were tested.  Over 25 years of a million chickens shit quantified, just can’t be good!

This information is the beginning of a small fraction of the entirety of the CAFO issue.  Consider the Chickens, Swine, and the byproducts processed from these large scale animal production lines (cream unused from milk, cheeses of all kinds, ugh, this is for a later blog)

In terminology of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is an animal feeding operation (AFO) that
1. Confines animals for more than 45 days during a growing season
2. In an area that does not produce vegetation
3. Meets certain size thresholds.
a production process that concentrates large numbers of animals in relatively small and confined places, and that substitutes structures and equipment (for feeding, temperature controls, and manure management) for land and labor.
257,000 AFOs in the United States (Approximately)
15,500 meet the more narrow criteria for CAFOs. The EPA has delineated three categories of CAFOs, ordered in terms of capacity:
1. Large – 1,000 or more cattle
2. Medium – 300–999 cattle
3. Small – 300 or less cattle
The relevant animal unit for each category varies depending on species and capacity.
The table below provides some examples of the size thresholds for CAFOs:
Animal Sector       Cattle or cow/calf pairs     Mature dairy cattle      

Large                        1,000 or more                     700 or more   

Medium                   300–999                               200–699                                       

Small                        less than 300                      less than 200

Chickens*   Lg -125k or more  Med –  37,500–124,999   Sm – less than 37.5k
Laying hens**  Lg -82k or more   Med – 25,000–81,999     less than 25k

* not than laying hens   **other than a liquid manure handling systems