|Farm law underwrites nauseous, large-scale pollution. Tax the shit!
Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) January 5, 2009
law underwrites nauseous, large-scale pollution
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a well-deserved
on the greenhouse gas methane, produced by New York State's 146,600
dairy cows. Industrial farm lobbyists seem to have gotten to Sen.
Charles Schumer, D-N. Y., because he calls such control "absurd." The
senator has stepped into something that smells.
We all favored "Right
to Farm Laws." Then corporations invented
Concentrated Animal Feeding
Operations, known as CAFOs. These
polluting profit machines flew in under
the radar. Now they produce
80 percent of our milk and meat. We have 14 of
them in Erie County.
Wyoming County has the highest concentration of them in
In 2003, 1,000 small New York farms closed, unable to compete
expensive, federally subsidized CAFOs. These factory farms can feed
7,500 cows jammed into tiny lots. The manure drains into lagoons to
evaporate into the air and seep into the water.
In 1920, my dad was a
16-year-old farmhand on the Black River. Cows
in his charge wandered in
pastures. In a balanced cycle, they ate the
grass that their manure
Now oceans of cow manure produced by CAFOs are so far from
that transporting it makes manure too expensive to use as
It is loaded with bacteria: giardia, salmonella and E. coli. It
contaminated with hormones and antibiotics, fed the animals to keep
them alive. Fumes given off are hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, methane
carbon dioxide. They are nauseating, irritating, flammable,
potent contributors to global warming.
The United Nations warned in
"Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental
Issues and Options," that livestock
is responsible for 18 percent of
greenhouse gas emissions, "a bigger share
than that of
In "The Wasting of Rural New York
State," the Sierra Club quotes Greg
Kaczmarczyk of Eden, who lives next to a
400-head factory cow farm on
Church Street in the middle of that village.
Kaczmarczyk says, "They
are making me ill in my own house." John Minick of
Niagara County says, "You can sit in this house with the
closed and taste it." He lives a mile from a 3,000-head
In the Finger Lakes region, the Mather family farm is near Willett
Dairy's 7,500-cow feed lot. Ground water and air pollution have
the Mathers and neighbors to take Willett to court. They
complained to me,
"What about our freedom to farm? We can't even go
outside and breathe the
The Freedom to Farm Law should protect farms, not factories and not
CAFOs. It has tied the hands of local governments. In 2005, a huge
manure lagoon spilled into 20 miles of the Black River, killing
fish. That disaster is a wake up-call to the DEC.
If Schumer has been to
Eden lately, he did not inhale. I was at the
Church Street Farm recently. It