There is a growing movement to connect with our food sources. Organic foods and farmers markets are more popular than ever.
I learned of another connection with our food when I attended an information meeting on mega dairy farms recently. The meeting had featured a panel of university professors and editors of farm publications. It was hosted by HOMES, a group of area farmers and residents who are fighting back to stop a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, aka factory farm) from coming to their neighborhood.
They are fighting A. J. Bos, a mega-dairy farmer whose numerous operations throughout the United States have a long history of environmental non-compliance. He now wants to set up shop 55 miles northwest of Rockford, Illinois in the Nora-Warren area. Why the Nora-Warren area? Lax state laws, a sparsely populated area, and plenty of land to accommodate two mega farms with at least 11,000 cows and a pond 20 ft. deep that can hold a year’s worth of waste. Although the Jo Davies County Board is opposed to the mega dairy and more than 600 residents have shown their opposition during a public hearing, as well as passing a non-binding referendum showing their opposition, their state representative has chosen to support the out-of-state mega farmer over the concerns of his constituents
Health and environmental damage clearly outweighs any possible benefit. No CAFO has ever improved the local economy. Property values decline. Most workers being paid an average of $10 an hour and their families will come from outside the area to work, causing more strain on schools, police, and social services. CAFOs will discourage new businesses to come near their location. CAFOs will threaten ground water and surface waters, streams, and springs. Mega dairy farms will put family dairy farmers out of business.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, contaminants from factory farms are a health hazard and can cause headaches, eye irritation, sore throats, diarrhea, vomiting and memory problems. Antibiotics given to animals (13 million pounds a year) to promote weight gain, reduce stress due to crowding, and contain risk of disease contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans.
Nowadays, 99% of all meat comes from CAFOs. Learn to connect with our food sources. Supporting family farms, buying local, organic foods, supporting farmers’ markets and sustainable food sources is good for the local economy and our health. For more on the HOMES movement, visit www.stopthemegadairy.org.