(EDITOR’S NOTE: Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors (JFAN) is a nonprofit community organization composed of rural and town residents, and traditional family farmers. Their common concern is to stop the growth of CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) factories in Jefferson County and protect our quality of life. Executive Director Diane Rosenberg sent this list of reasons for no more CAFOs in Jefferson County, and it could equally apply throughout the state).
Why You Don’t Want More CAFOs in Jefferson County
1. Property Values Plummet Near CAFOs
Property values of residences drop up to 40 percent near factory farms. (Colorado State University study of Iowa properties).
2. People Living Near CAFOs Experience Health Problems
- Neighbors living within two miles of a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation, or factory farm) have experienced wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, excessive coughing, nausea, diarrhea, sore throat, eye irritation, headache, runny nose and weakness. (Numerous University of North Carolina studies)
- Children who attend schools near CAFOs suffer higher incidences of asthma. (Study in Pediatrics journal)
- Neighbors living near a hog confinement experienced more depression, tension, anger, fatigue, and confusion and less vigor. (North Carolina study)
- Factory farms emit over 200 gases and particulates. Here are just a few that you will breathe in: ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulates such as fecal matter and skin cells, volatile organic compounds, methane, and viruses. A 2002 report by Iowa State University and the University of Iowa determined that hydrogen sulfide and ammonia emissions from CAFOs are a health risk for humans.
- Antibiotic-resistant bacteria (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA), is found in Iowa hogs and CAFO workers. (University of Iowa study) MRSA is difficult to treat, can be fatal in people with weakened immune systems, and is becoming more common because of the heavy use of antibiotics on factory farms.
3. CAFOs Stink
Confined hogs generate three times the amount of raw waste as humans. (EPA). The liquid manure goes into concrete pits below the confinement where it sits and putrefies for 6-12 months. Huge fans blow the poisonous air out of the confinements, and residents breathe it in. If you live within 3-4 miles of a CAFO, your air is going to stink. If you live near a field where manure will be applied, it will stink there, too. Breathing in this air can make you sick.
4. Your Quality of Life Will Diminish
People who live near factory farms report that they don’t enjoy their homes any longer. Some experiences people report include:
- No longer opening windows to get fresh air into their homes. (There is no fresh air anymore.)
- Living in basements to get away from the smell that seeps through closed windows.
- Coping with overwhelming fly infestations. Flies may also contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Ending all outdoor entertaining with family and friends.
5. Your Community Will Deteriorate
Increased traffic from tractor-trailer feed trucks breaks down community roads, and local tax money pays for repairs. Fuel taxes don’t come close to covering costs. Taxes often rise, and local community services get reduced to keep up with maintenance. It’s common to see businesses close and people move out when factory farms move in.
6. The Environment Suffers
Iowa has some of the worst waterways in the nation. Over 800 manure spills have occurred in the last 10 years. Fish kills are common. Children can’t play in streams without concerns of exposure to E. coli or other bacteria.
JFAN works to keep CAFOs out of Jefferson County, safeguarding your health, property values, quality of life, and the environment.
Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc.
P.O. Box 811
Fairfield, IA 52556