Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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SEPTEMBER 12 , 2007 -- Number 26, Volume 7


The number of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, a.k.a. “factory farms”) in the U.S. is 19,000 and growing, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is “fierce” debate over whether farmers and ranchers should be held responsible for the manure they cause to be generated. The Agriculture Protection and Prosperity Act (APPA), pending in the U.S. House and Senate, aims to exempt manure from the EPA’s "Superfund law," which addresses cleanup of hazardous and toxic chemical spills. Supporters of the legislation claim that virtually every farm could be subject to millions of dollars in liabilities and penalties if manure was regulated by the EPA. They argue that agriculture operations are already (over)regulated under the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, in addition to other federal and state environmental laws. Opponents of such an exemption, including the attorney generals of eight states, cite the need for such legal means to help prevent and clean-up contamination caused by manure.

On September 6th, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is reviewing the APPA, as to how CAFOs affect public health. Edmondson filed suit in 2005 against a number of poultry companies, charging them with violating the Superfund law by polluting the Illinois River watershed (see: He said the amount of poulty litter spread as fertilizer on fields there each year is equivalent to the amount of waste produced by nearly 11 million people. Edmondson contends that manure in such concentrations should be considered hazardous waste under the Superfund law, noting that normal application of litter as fertilizer is already exempted from it. He contends that poultry companies initiated the APPA in response to the lawsuit. A poultry industry representative points out efforts at redress that industry has made. Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Committee, sided with Edmondson, commenting: "I'm ready to take this on… And I will have a lot of friends with me."

Purdue University (Indiana) has announced a new website featuring scientific information about CAFOs to assist zoning boards, planning commissions, agricultural extension educators, as well as citizens and farmers:

Reuters, Christopher Doering, Sept. 6, 2007

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Robert J. Smith, September 7, 2007

The Oklahoman, Chris Casteel, September 7, 2007

USAgNet/Wisconsin Ag Connection, Sept. 10, 2007



Ohio is said to be 7th in the U.S. for the number of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), with Iowa topping the list at 3,876 sites. They have nearly doubled in Ohio since 2002, when state legislators transferred regulatory oversight of farms from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEP) to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). In doing so, the lawmakers cited the latter’s expertise in dealing with farmers and agriculture issues.

Trent Dougherty, staff attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), contends that the change means the ag community can instead deal with its “friends” at the ODA. Remarking on the fines the ODA has levied compared to those by the OEP, Dougherty charges: "A fine of $700, $200? That's not a disincentive…That's a line item in a yearly budget for these operators." In defense of his agency, ODA Director Bob Boggs declared: "We are waging a war with the western part of the U.S. that has huge farms, much larger than ours…” He asserts: "I will maintain we do a lot better job in protecting the environment on these permitted farms than what's been done in the small family farms over the years." Farms are also being developed just below the size that triggers oversight, including regular inspections, by the ODA. The OEC is calling for a one-year moratorium on new permits to try to ensure that correct regulations are in place. See also:

Legislation banning the construction of new pig waste lagoons and commencing programs to upgrade existing lagoons to meet stricter environmental standards has been signed into law by the governor of North Carolina. The law also includes an initiative to generate electricity from methane gas collected from animal waste. A cost-sharing program will be available to industry for conversion to the new technologies, with the state covering a large majority of the costs.

The Columbus Dispatch, Monique Curet, September 9, 2007

Associated Press, Julie Carr Smyth September 2, 2007

The Pig Site, September 10, 2007



“Humanity’s continued consumption of animals is not only morally problematic but also highly imprudent,” writes David Benatar in an editorial entitled: The Chickens Come Home to Roost, in the Sept. 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Benatar, a Ph.D. in the philosophy department at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, discusses hazards posed to human health from using animals for food. He considers conditions to which animals are subjected in relation to diseases such as avian influenza, HIV/AIDS, and “mad cow” disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), noting: “Although some zoonoses [diseases transmissible from nonhumans to humans] are probably unavoidable, much human suffering resulting from zoonotic diseases could probably have been avoided had humans treated animals better.” Benatar observes: "It is curious, therefore, that changing the way humans treat animals—most basically ceasing to eat them or, at the very least, radically limiting the quantity of them that are eaten—is largely off the radar as a significant preventive measure." He admonishes: “Those who consume animals not only harm those animals and endanger themselves, but they also threaten the well-being of other humans who currently or will later inhabit this planet.”

In 2003, the American Public Heath Association issued a resolution urging all federal, state, and local authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on the building of new farmed animal confinement operations out of concern for their impact on the health of workers and communities (see: ).

American Journal of Public Health, David Benatar, Sept. 2007



“[T]he idolatry of food cuts across class lines. This can be seen in the public's toleration of a level of cruelty in meat production that it would tolerate nowhere else. If someone inflicts pain on an animal for visual, aural, or sexual gratification, we consider him a monster, and the law makes at least a token effort at punishment. If someone's goal is to put the "product" in his mouth? Chacun à son goût.” In a review of Michael Pollan’s bestseller, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (see: ), B.R. Myers takes foodies and food writers to task. He asserts that in using words such as “sinful,” “decadent,” and “evils” to describe indulgent food, food writers demonstrate their “hostility to the very language of moral values.” Myers observes, however, that “when asked to laugh at the suffering of a living thing, or to drown out a moral compunction by turning up the TV, the American meat eater begins to sense that his values are not so far from the vegetarian's after all.”

Focusing on Pollan, Myers states: “…he derives the rightness of meat eating from the fact that humans are physically suited to it, they enjoy it, and they have engaged in it until modern times without feeling much ‘ethical heartburn’…According to Pollan, this 'reality' demands our respect. The same reasoning could be used to defend our mistreatment of children: In body and instinct, we are marvelously well-equipped for making their lives hell. If many cultures now object to abusing them, it is thanks to new values, to people who refused to respect the time-honored ‘reality.’"
Myers continues: “But by reducing man's moral nature to an extension of our instincts, Pollan is free to present his appetite as a sort of moral-o-meter, the final authority for judging the rightness of all things culinary.” He observes that Pollan “apparently believes that we cannot fully relate to animals until they become food. In the introduction, we are told that eating something – ‘transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds’ -- constitutes the deepest possible ‘relationship’ with it, ‘the most profound engagement’ of all.” Myers notes that Pollan seemingly considers enjoyment of the gustatory experience to be of paramount importance in that relationship. He scoffs at Pollan’s deficient investigative objectivity in, for example, relying on the comments of poultry farmers in regard to vegetarians rather than interviewing vegetarians themselves. Myers concludes that The Omnivore's Dilemma is “[a] record of the gourmet's ongoing failure to think in moral terms.”

The Atlantic Monthly, B. R. Myers, September 2007



“ FOOD ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IN 2020” is the title of the upcoming Future Trends in Animal Agriculture (FTTA) Symposium, a public event to be held September 20th at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. Among the scheduled speakers are: Steve Kopperud of Policy Directions, Inc. ( ); Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society of the U.S.; Ray Stricklin of the University of Maryland; and Dennis Treacy of Smithfield Foods (see: ). Topics include: Ethics and Philosophy of Science, the Future of Global Standards for Animal Production, Outsourcing Food Animal Production: Projections for Animal Welfare, and What Should Animal Agriculture Look Like? A general discussion is also scheduled. The FTAA is composed of industry groups, animal advocacy organizations, consumer representatives, government personnel, and others. Per the USDA: “The goal of the symposium is to provide opportunities to discuss contentious issues of significant societal interest relating to animal well-being, in a non-threatening, neutral atmosphere.” Advance registration is recommended, but not required. For more information, see:

ANIMALS MATTER! organized by Animals Australia, is an “Australian first, bringing together leading international and national animal advocates to highlight how the work of their organisations is changing the world for the better for animals.” Among the scheduled speakers are: Amina Sarwat Abaza of the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights Egypt (; Phil Brooke of Compassion in World Farming; Hans Kriek, who has led the New Zealand campaign against battery hen cages and pig stalls; Lyn White, who has conducted three Middle East investigations into the treatment of exported animals, and Phil Wollen of the Winsome Constance Kindness trust: ( The conference will be held in Adelaide on October 13, 2007. For more information, see:

The Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching (the “Ag Guide”) is being revised. The Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS)’s Ag Guide Revision Committee is inviting “technical comments, suggestions, and improvements” to the draft. Comments are requested by November 9th and, ideally, will include citations to relevant scientific work. More information is at:

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Compiled and edited by Mary Finelli, Farmed Animal Watch is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.