Why are CAFOs bad?
The quantity of urine and feces from even the smallest CAFO is equivalent to the urine and feces produced by 16,000 humans.
A CAFO can house anywhere from hundreds to millions of animals.
The animals in CAFOs are most often dairy cows, hogs, or chickens.
CAFO animals are confined at least 45 days or more per year in an area without vegetation.
CAFOs include open feedlots, as well as massive, windowless buildings where livestock are confined in boxes or stalls.
Other terms used to describe a CAFO: mega farm, animal factory, hog motels, poop factories, industrial farms.
(Also see CAFO in the glossary and CAFO Basics below.)
What pollutants do CAFOs produce?
CAFOs produce huge amounts of animal sewage and other pollutants.
Brown liquid enters Lime Lk Drain, with plume clearly visible.
CAFO owners and operators spend millions of dollars on technologies that make it possible to produce massive quantities of milk, eggs, and meat, yet they resist investing in technologies and practices to properly treat the wastes that are by-products of this industry:
The amount of urine and feces produced by the smallest CAFO is equivalent to the quantity of urine and feces produced by 16,000 humans.
CAFO waste is usually not treated to reduce disease-causing pathogens, nor to remove chemicals, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, or other pollutants.
Over 168 gases are emitted from CAFO waste, including hazardous chemicals such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane.
Airborne particulate matter is found near CAFOs and can carry disease-causing bacteria, fungus, or other pathogens.
Animals frequently die in CAFOs. Their carcasses, often in large numbers, must be dealt with.
Infestations of flies, rats, and other vermin are commonplace around CAFOs and therefore around CAFO neighbors.
Often you'll hear owners of CAFOs argue that the wastes produced by the livestock provide nutrients that help them offset the use of synthetic fertilizers. The sheer amount of wastes produced, however, often overwhelms the ability of the land and crops to absorb CAFO wastes.