Environment Picture

Massive factory farms must play by the rules, and tough new rules are desparately needed

Huge factory farms, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), need to be more accountable to the environment and public health, contends a coalition including the Michigan Environmental Council, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan and many others. We believe it is time to stop the proliferation of CAFOs in Michigan until they stop polluting our air and waterways and making rural communities unbearable for neighboring residents.

These massive operations are changing the nature of farming. Some people say this concentration and growth in farming is inevitable. The counter argument is that the failure to regulate and hold these facilities to minimum environmental standards is why they are dominating the market and changing the nature of rural communities.

They can produce as much raw sewage as a medium-sized city, with virtually none of the sewage treatment rules and standards that would be applied to their municipal counterparts. As a result, horrifying overflows of sewage retention ponds regularly foul drainage ditches, streams and ponds, making the water unfit for aquatic life or human contact.

Astonishingly, the Michigan Senate earlier this year narrowly passed a package of bills that would further deregulate these facilities. As an alternative path, groups across the state have called for a moratorium on large new CAFOs as the legislature and administration establish a regulatory framework to ensure adequate protection of public health and the environment.

The bills passed by the Senate deserve to die. Sensible regulations must take their place.

For more information, contact the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter (517) 484-2372.
-Michigan Environmental Council
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