|Commentary by Laura Jackson
Picture this sometime in the future: a large map of the U.S. is hanging in the Dept. of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. This map is covered with many beautiful colors. Near the middle of this map the color is brown. This is where a majority of our meat supply is coming from. It is a way of life now.
The people who live in this area do not have a long life span. They are unable to bear children. Their cancer rate is high due to the stench- filled-dust in the atmosphere and the polluted water. This "state" has been taken over by an industry known as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. They raise animals in large numbers. Anyone not working in these operations that could has moved away. The majority of humans that inhabit this area are the CAFO caretakers.
The CAFOs are huge industrial facilities with over 1,000 animal units concentrated at one place at one time. The hog CAFOs consist of "deep-pit" barns. There is a concrete pit usually about eight feet deep from the bottom of the slatted floor. Hog manure falls through the slatted floor and is collected and stored in the pit. The open pits have approximately 365 days of storage.
Residents near hog factories have developed psychological stress related to frequent exposure to intense hog odors. Twice a year the waste has been vacuumed from the pits, then injected into the soil in nearby fields, From there it leaches into groundwater often with flow into nearby streams.
A CAFO with 4,000 hogs is able to generate as much waste as a city of 16,000 people but as untreated raw sewage. Nobody could imagine his or her government allowing a city of 16,000 people not to have a sewage treatment plant.
When this area was still a livable state small landowners were promised by large, private and very secretive corporations that there would be large profits and a great life for their families if they raised animals for them. This did not come true for many of these poor souls.
Corporate involvement in farming has been proven not to benefit the independent producers. When independent producers could not maintain profits needed to break even, bankruptcy followed unless the corporate giants took over the mortgage payments. Their family's land was taken from them. Now they work for the "man" who had promised them everything.
There are no forests, no streams, no lakes, no clear blue skies. The earth is no longer green. The wells ran dry years ago. Most of the land is now covered with open-pit untreated sewage lagoons filled with animal excrement. At every turn there are piles of rotting animal carcasses.
The states surrounding the area formally known as Missouri saw the path in which Missouri was headed. Those state and county governments passed laws in time to stop the damage caused by the CAFOs.
What was it that ruined Missouri? Nuclear disaster? Global warming? Biological warfare? NO! It was poorly regulated concentrated animal feeding operations!
Truth or fiction?
Every year this complete environmental degradation is coming closer to reality. How many years will this destruction take? No one knows. It is happening right under our noses...can YOU smell it yet?
The small village of Arrow Rock, MO, nestled on a bluff of the Missouri River, is fighting now for the protection of their forests, streams, lakes, clean air and blue skies. Arrow Rock and its surrounding neighborhood are important historical treasures of the state of Missouri. The Arrow Rock State Park and Old Tavern were the first historical park developments dating back to 1925. Each year thousands of tourists visit the Village of Arrow Rock, the Arrow Rock State Park and the award-winning 408-seat Lyceum Theatre.
Recently Arrow Rock was named on the list of the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the "Dozen Destinations of Distinction" for 2006--the first location in Missouri to receive this distinction. With large scale swine facilities continuing to take over our land this state and federal historical site will be lost.
Help stop the large scale operations NOW! Save Arrow Rock and save Missouri!
Editor's note: A proposal by Dennis Gessling is for the establishment of a wean-to-finish hog operation two miles outside of the small town of Arrow Rock, MO, a tourist mecca that attracts overnight campers. Floyd Gilzow, the deputy director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources claimed that the proposal to bring in a 4800 hog operation was not large enough to mandate setting up a public hearing.
When the DNR is confronted with an operation that has potential for odors, water contamination or extreme water usage, that agency says that it can't do anything to stop the permitting process. The law sides with these business interests, they say.
Instead DNR spokespersons bring up lack of planning and zoning. Arrow Rock is in Saline County where its voters rejected planning and zoning attempts twice in the 1990s.
Many pro-business legislators would like to end local control altogether. SB 364 would put an end to enforcement of CAFO ordinances established by county health departments.
The citizens of Arrow Rock have created an organization called Citizens to Protect State Parks and Historic Sites. They are open to any assistance offered them.