SYRACUSE — Air quality, health hazards, quality of life concerns were just a few points noted at a Kosciusko County Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Workshop, presented by the Hoosier Environmental Council, along with the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation. The four-hour workshop was held Saturday, Dec. 9, in the Kiwanis Room at the Syracuse Community Center.
Approximately 30 individuals attended, a number of whom however, were not from Kosciusko County. Among the county residents attending were a few local farmers including some who operate family confined feeding operations, members of the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District and WACF.
The meeting focused on the negative affects of CAFOs. However, late in the workshop the reason for the workshop was alluded to by Kim Ferraro, HEC’s senior staff attorney and director of agriculture policy. That intent is to have voices and concerns heard by legislation to get better state policies regarding CAFOs. “We need to get people in key areas to weigh in. That’s why we’re doing these workshops,” stated Ferraro.
Ferraro also appeared to suggest individuals switch their eating habits and become vegans or choose organic food products.
A 36-page booklet “Stemming The Tide of Pollution from CAFOs,.” a citizen’s guide, was available to all who attended and contained much of the information presented by Ferraro.
Details explaining the structure of animal feeding operations, CFOs and the CAFOs, impacts to the environment, public health and community, economic impacts were focused during the first session. The final session focused on state and federal environmental regulations, local zoning and land use laws, Kosciusko County’s requirements for CAFOs/CFOs and procedures that can be taken through the courts, local government, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and laws including actions for trespass — where a person projects something onto the land of another.
Time was also spent discussing proposed legislation, the need for strengthening local and state laws and encouragement to take action.
Among facts presented were definitions of AFO’s, CFOs and CAF’s and agencies who regulate those facilities. Farraro noted traditional farms are becoming obsolete, giving way to larger operations “where livestock animals are raised in confinement at high stocking densities to produce the highest output at the lowest cost.”
AFO’s, under federal and state law, are facilities raising animals in confinement for 45 days or more during a 12-month period, does not grow crops or other vegetation on more than 50 percent of the facility when animals are confined. It was pointed out AFOs are not subject to environmental regulations.
CFO is an AFO that confines at least 300 cattle, 600 swine or sheep, 30,000 poultry or 500 horses. She pointed out an AFO that violates Indiana water pollution control laws is considered a CFO and subject to regulations and enforcement for the violation.
CAFOs are CFOs confining larger number of animals: 700 mature dairy cows, 1,000 veal calves, 1,000 cattle other than mature dairy cows and veal calves, 2,500 swine when each weigh 55 pounds or more, 10,000 swine when each weigh less than 55 pounds, 500 horses, 10,000 sheep/lambs, or 55,000 turkeys. Exceptions to AFOs being considered CAFOs depending on the manure handling system were noted as well.
Notation was also made regarding Indiana’s “factory farms” and its rank in the United States. The presentation noted the state ranks in the top 10 in layers, hogs and pigs, pullets, and turkeys, seventh. Ferraro noted Kosciusko County has 75 CAFOs and CFOs and is in the top 10 counties with the most “factory farms.”