Sierran Masthead

Hoosier Chapter Takes on CAFO Pollution and Seeks Commonsense Regulations

by Jolinda Buchanan,
Sierra Club’s Indiana Conservation Organizer

Indiana’s land, drinking water, rivers, and heritage are right now at risk from gigantic, corporate-controlled hog and poultry operations that bear more resemblance to a factory than to a farm.

Increasingly, hog and poultry production in Indiana is done in huge animal factories that confine large numbers of animals in a small space.

As a result, a tremendous amount of animal waste needs to be disposed of, which is generally stored nearby in football-field-size lagoons of manure that contains antibiotics, urine, and other pathogens. Frequently, these lagoons leak, burst, or spill.

When sprayed onto fields, this overapplied, concentrated amount of animal waste leads to massive runoff, causing tremendous environmental damage, endangering nearby homes and farms, polluting rivers and streams, and choking off aquatic life.

This spring, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) approved Indiana’s first rules governing animal waste from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Any farm maintaining 300 cattle or horses, 600 hogs or sheep, and/or 30,000 poultry fall within the ruling.

Though this ruling is a step in the right direction, the Sierra Club sees it as far from the final word on these operations.

Many more steps are needed to protect our quality of life and heritage. Some of the basic, commonsense steps needed to protect our communities’ health and heritage are as follows:

  • Prohibit land application of animal waste on frozen ground and during rain.
  • Limit leakage from lagoons by inspecting and testing lagoon liners before they are used.
  • Require monitoring wells.
  • Set controls on density of CAFOs sufficient to allow adequate areas of land application.
  • Ban sites with sensitive geology as unsuitable for operation or land application.

Indiana does not need industrial animal operations. We certainly do not want to attract them by sacrificing our quality of life. Our rural economies depend on more thriving Hoosier family farmers, not just on more livestock production.

Across the state, we are working to help stop this threat by urging Gov. O’Bannon to develop strong, enforceable rules that address CAFOs and protect our environment and rural heritage for our families and for our future.

To get more involved in your area and help put a stop to the CAFO threat, contact me by phone at (317) 466-1902 or by e-mail at (See associated article).

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[7/11/02]efp

Summer 2001