Pigs VS Produce

The smell. That is the big one between rural residents and pig factory production facilities claiming to be farms. Those facilities are also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, CAFOs, where thousands of pigs or hogs are crowed together in high numbers, by the thousands, in buildings where they are fed out for eventual sending to slaughter to such as the Indiana Packers Corporation plant in Delphi.

Carson Gerber, Kokomo Tribune reporter, had it right in his April 23rd KT article: it is a battle between pigs and produce. Hog CAFOs are anything but farming in the traditional sense. The concentration of hogs in one location produces huge amounts of urine and feces (that’s bowel waste or “crap”) that must be stored in lagoons or tanks until pumped out and taken elsewhere for disposal. In the meanwhile, the operation stinks.

It would be one thing if the stink stayed on the site where it originated. The problem is that it does not. The stink travels miles subject only to the whims of the wind. And it is offensive. Ray Reichard is worried about his flower and vegetable operation that is near where new hog CAFOs are proposed. He worries about people being offended by the odor from hog waste wafting into his greenhouse or lingering on the produce and flowers he takes to farmers markets. He should be worried.

There is a fact that most people do not get. If you can smell something, it means that molecules or “pieces” of whatever is causing the stink are in the air and that these molecules are being drawn into your nose and lungs. Crap and urine in. Reichard worries about his produce carrying the stink to market. What he is really saying is that feces and urine molecules from hogs will have landed on the food and flowers he has produced and have stuck there. Somehow, I do not think people want to be eating this produce or having these flowers in their homes.

Have you ever driven behind a semi-truck hauling hogs? It stinks. Waste and bacterial molecules are being blown off of the truck and hogs into the air and into the air intakes of your car. If you do not want these molecules in your lungs, you need to back off and put your car air system on interior air only, not take air in from the outside.

Hog operations are not what they once were. In the old days, farmers (not animal factory operators) raised hogs, cattle, chickens and other livestock in balance with land that was cropped with a variety of corn, soybeans, and more. Crops were rotated. The waste from animals became fertilizer for fields. All in balance.

If you have not noticed, there is movement toward more local production of healthy food. Farmers markets are more and more popular. People want farms to be healthier with use of fewer chemicals and antibiotics. CAFOs are not compatible with this trend. CAFOs stink.

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About Kent Blacklidge Ph.D.

As part of a newspaper family who owned a 34,000 daily newspaper in the heart of the Midwest, I have a passion for a strong “Fourth Estate”, the press. Without a diligent and assertive free press, the power would be taken from the people. People have the absolute right to know. After earning a degree in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, I spent over 20 years in newspaper management with several as publisher. I am also holder of three graduate science degrees including a Ph.D.. I have a passionate interest in science and the environment. I have little tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
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