Environmental scientists and social activists are starting to argue that Caged Animal Feeding Operations ( CAFO’s) are detrimental to the environment in a variety of ways. CAFO’s are the result of 10,000 years of human progress stemming from the transition of a hunter/gatherer society to an agrarian society. The transition from a hunter/gatherer society to an agrarian society contributed to the creation of major cities, resulting in higher populations i.e. Mesopotamia. As time progressed and countries started becoming more populated, specifically the United States, a higher demand for food needed to be met due to the growing populous. It got to the point where there were so many people that small family run farms could not meet the demand of the growing population.
The advent of new technology such as the automobile, refrigerator, food processing and preservation provided a way for business entrepreneurs to start new businesses that allowed for large scale production, distribution and centralized retailing of both meat and plant foods. The result being CAFO’s.
CAFO’s are beneficial in that they can provide a low-cost source of meat, milk and eggs due to efficient feeding and hosing methods of the animals, as well as boost the local economy by providing jobs. Unfortunately the negatives of CAFO’s outweigh the benefits immensely.
The most pressing issue that is associated with CAFO’s comes from the amount of manure/waste they produce. The manure that results from CAFO’s contains a panoply of potential contaminants. The manure is filled with plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, pathogens such as E.coli, growth hormones, antibiotics, chemicals used as additives to the manure or to clean equipment, animal blood, silage leachate (fibrous part of corn), or copper sulfate used in foot baths for cows (Hribar, Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities). Since the manure is filled with so many contaminants it is unable to be treated in a waste treatment plant, and traditional methods of disposal such using the manure to supplement plant growth is futile for the same reason. Since these companies are unable to get rid of the waste, they have devised other manure management strategies such pumping liquified manure onto spray fields and/or trucking it off-site. Probably the more popular methods of disposal that these companies utilize are storing it in deep pits under where the animals are being housed, in clay or concrete pits, treatment lagoons, or holding ponds (Hribar, Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities).
Due to the harmful contaminates and inefficient methods of disposal that CAFO’s utilize, a variety of environmental problems have occurred. The excess production of manure and its disposal methods have led to changes in ground and surface water quality. Emissions from degrading manure and livestock digestive processes, specifically cows, have...