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Court Holds Factory Farm Responsible for Water Pollution in Landmark Case

A landmark court decision in Washington state brings new hope for the environment. Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs) also known, as factory farms are responsible for many problems besides the cruel treatment of livestock. The contamination of air and water from CAFOs is alarming and given little attention in comparison to the negative press against the automotive and other industries.

This may change with the ruling against Royal City, Washington’s Nelson Faria Dairy. The Dairy had set and ignored the terms of a settlement with Community Association for Restoration of the Environment and this ruling will force them to adhere to the stated terms.

According to CARE, the problems caused by organizations like Nelson Faria are sizable and for the most part ignored. “Operations like the Nelson Faria Dairy produce as much waste as a city of over 200,000 people. Unlike cities, however, which treat their wastes, the dairy industry applies manure to agricultural fields primarily to get rid of it,” said a CARE representative.

Manure contains ammonia and other chemicals that are hazardous to the quality of water and those living in and off of these sources. In moderation, it is an excellent fertilizer, but with the growing numbers of animals contained in these operations comes growing amounts of pollutants.

In 1995, an eight-acre hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina burst and released 25 million gallons of manure into the nearby New River. The spill killed ten million of the area’s fish. This is an example of the harm CAFOs can do to neighboring ecosystems.

Accidents like the one in North Carolina are just an aspect of the factory farming industry. They are the collateral damage of extreme profit driven behavior. What needs to be done right now, and what CARE is hoping to accomplish is a practice of higher regulation and safety in the industry. However, pollution will always occur and will only get larger as the size of farms increase. I feel, in this case, abstinence may be the best policy.

Image Source: Alicia Nijdim/Flickr