Rural Residents for Responsible Agriculture

 

RURAL RESIDENTS FOR RESPONSIBLE AGRICULTURE

FAQ sheet about RRRA

 

1. What is Rural Residents for Responsible Agriculture?

 

Rural Residents for Responsible Agriculture (RRRA) is a non-profit serving rural residents, family farmers, and concerned citizens who are committed to keeping our air clean, our water safe, and our Illinois communities vibrant. RRRA draws on cutting edge research to educate citizens about the community, environmental, and human impacts of Concentrated Feeding Animal Operations (CAFOs). Our goal is to empower citizens to understand their current rights, foster democratic processes, and sustain healthy communities.

 

2. What is a CAFO?

 

The acronym CAFO originated in the late 1970s as a definition of a regulated “point source” of pollution under the federal Clean Water Act.[1] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines CAFOs as facilities that (1) stable or confine certain numbers of animals, often thousands of them, for more than 45 days in any 12-month period and (2) do not have vegetation on any portion of the lot or facility.[2] Consequently, CAFOs amass sizable numbers of livestock, feed, and waste on small parcels of land.

 

In terms of the number of animals, CAFOs are defined as house over 1,000 animal units. In terms of swine, that’s 2,500 hog. In terms of dairy, that’s 700 cows.

 

3. What are the human health impacts of CAFOs?

 

Rural farm children traditionally have been less likely to develop asthma. Large CAFOS change that. In a study conducted in Keokuk Co. Iowa of 644 children, 55.8% of children who lived by large swine farms had asthma symptoms. Children who lived on farms without large swine facilities had significantly lower rates of asthma.

 

The odor is not only offensive, but makes people sick. How often are people exposed to these emissions? Within 2 miles of CAFOS, both resident self-reports and air quality measurement show that on 50 percent of the days randomly tested there was odor detected[3]. Those exposed to CAFO emissions are 4 more times more likely to report headaches, 6 times more likely to report eye irritation, and 7.8 times more likely to report nausea than those not expose to these emissions[4].

 

These odors affected residents' ability to sleep, be outside or entertain guests at their home. Studies also show residents who live nearby CAFOs experience increased psychological distress and decreased perceptions of control over their health and well-being[5].

 

4. How do these facilities impact property values?

 

In a Missouri study, the residential value property loss near a CAFO is estimated at 88.3%.[6] Other studies show that some farms, including horse and vegetable farms, dropped in value 50-100%.[7] Residential properties within three miles of a CAFO experienced a value loss of about 6.6%.[8]

 

5. Do CAFOs bring money to farmers and the community?

 

NO. Historical and recent studies show that when the number of farmers in an area declines, the rural economic well-being does too.[9] CAFOs push farmers off the land. Farmers become trapped in contracts with larger firms that eliminate open markets. Big companies, like Tyson or Seaboard, squeeze contract farmers’ profits until they can no longer afford to stay in business.[10]

 

As a result of ever expanding industrialization of agriculture, only 11% of rural American households earn their income from farm activities.[11] That means the bulk of rural Americans don’t make money off of farming, and count on other income for sustenance today. Those residents end up paying the price for CAFO profit, although they’ll never see the pork come home.

 

Most recently some CAFOs aren’t operated by contract farmers, but owned by investors who hire laborers to work in the facility. The nameless owners leave communities forced to cope with CAFO’s negative externalities like air pollution, contaminated water, and decreased property values. Sometimes, the investors aren’t only counties, but state’s away, and hire laborers to work at the confinements while their hands stay clean.[12]

 

The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service reported in a 2013 study that large-scale hog farms only generated .57 jobs per 1000 hogs. Outside the hog CAFO, those 1000 hogs resulted in a .16 loss in jobs. And of course, those minute numbers are only the short term ones. As other authors have shown, taking animals off the land into confined buildings also takes people off the land, leading to rural exodus and economic decline.

 

 

6. How do these facilities impact property values?

 

In a Missouri study, the residential value property loss near a CAFO is estimated at 88.3%[13]. Other studies show that some farms, including horse and vegetable farms, dropped in value 50-100%[14]. Residential properties within three miles of a CAFO experienced a value loss of about 6.6%[15].

 

7. After these facilities leave, who’s left to clean them up?

 

Local, state, and federal tax payers. Once these CAFOs leave the area, the community and state are left with the costs. Cleaning up U.S. hog and dairy CAFOs nationally could approach $4.1 billion[16].

 

 



[1] (Federal Clean Water Act 1972)

[2] (Code of Federal Regulations 2003)

[3]     Wing, S., R. A. Horton, S. W. marshall, K. Thu, M. Tajik, L. Schinasi, and S. S. Schiffman. “Air Pollution and Odor in Communities Near Industrial Swine Operations.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 116(10): 1362-1368. (2008).

[4]     Schiffman, S.S., C. E. Studwell, L.R. Landerman, K. Berman, and J.S. Sundy. “Symptomatic Efforts of Exposure to Diluted Air Sampled from a Swine Confinement Atmosphere on Healthy Human Subjects.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 113(5): 567-576. (2005).

[5]     Bullers, S. “Environmental Stressors, Perceived Control, and Health: The Case of Residents Near Large-Scale Hog Farms in Eastern North Carolina.” Human Ecology. 33(1). (2005).

[6]     Mubarek Hamed, Thomas Johnson, and Kathleen Miller, “The Impacts of Animal Feeding Operations on Rural Land Values,” University of Missouri- Columbia Community Policy Analysis Center Report R-99-02 (May, 1999).

[7]     Kilpatrick, J. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Proximate Property Values. The Appraisal Journal. (2001).

[8]     Mubarek Hamed, Thomas Johnson, and Kathleen Miller, “The Impacts of Animal Feeding Operations on Rural Land Values,” University of Missouri- Columbia Community Policy Analysis Center Report R-99-02 (May, 1999).

[9]     Durrenberger, Paul and Kendall Thu. 1996. “The Expansion of Large Scale Hog Farming in Iowa: The Applicability of Goldschmidt’s Findings Fifty Years Later.” Human Organization 55(4):409–15.; Goldschmidt, Walter. 1978. As You Sow: Three Studies in the Social Consequences of Agribusiness. Montclair, NJ: Allanheld, Osmun; Lyson, Thomas A. and Rick Welsh. 2005. “Agricultural Industrialization, Anti-corporate Farming Laws and Rural Community Welfare.” Environment and Planning A 37:1479–92.

[10]    Boyd, William and Michael Watts. 1997. “Agro-industrial Just-in-Time: The Chicken Industry and Postwar American Capitalism.” Pp. 192–225 in Globalising Food: Agrarian Questions and Global Restructuring, edited by D. Goodman and M. Watts. London, England: Routledge; Davis, John E. 1980. “Capitalist Agricultural Development and the Exploitation of the Propertied Laborer.” Pp. 133–54 in The Rural Sociology of Advanced Societies, edited by F. H. Buttel and H. Newby. Montclair, NJ: Allenheld, Osmun.; Heffernan, William D. 1984. “Constraints in the Poultry Industry.” Pp. 237–60 in Research in Rural Sociology and Development, vol. 1, edited by H. Schwarzweller. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press; Heffernan, William, Mary Hendrickson, and Robert Gronski. 1999. Consolidation in the Food and Agriculture System. Report to the National Farmers Union; Mooney, Patrick H. 1983. “Toward a Class Analysis of Midwestern Agriculture.” Rural Sociology 48(4):563–84; Morrison, John M. 1998. “The Poultry Industry: A View of the Swine Industry’s Future.” Pp. 145–54 in Pigs, Profits, and Rural Communities, edited by K. M. Thu and E. P. Durrenburger. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press; Striffler, Steven. 2005. Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; Stull, Donald and Michael J. Broadway. 2004. Slaughterhouse Blues: The Meat and Poultry Industry in North America. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

[11]    http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea/factsheets-reports/strengthening-the-rural-economy/the-current-state-of-rural-america

[12]    Ashwood, Loka, Danielle Diamond, and Kendall Thu. "Where's the Farmer? Limiting Liability in Midwestern Industrial Hog Production." Rural Sociology 79.1 (2014): 2-27.

[13]    Mubarek Hamed, Thomas Johnson, and Kathleen Miller, “The Impacts of Animal Feeding Operations on Rural Land Values,” University of Missouri- Columbia Community Policy Analysis Center Report R-99-02 (May, 1999).

[14]    Kilpatrick, J. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Proximate Property Values. The Appraisal Journal. (2001).

[15]    Mubarek Hamed, Thomas Johnson, and Kathleen Miller, “The Impacts of Animal Feeding Operations on Rural Land Values,” University of Missouri- Columbia Community Policy Analysis Center Report R-99-02 (May, 1999).

[16]    Union of Concerned Scientists. “CAFOs Uncovered – The Untold Costs of the Confined Animal Feeding Operations.” (2008)

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We want to share our stories with you of how this facility threatens our community?s future. Below are pictures that many of our group members have taken of the homes and farms that they love.

Email: RRRAgriculture@gmail.com

Phone: (309) 254-3228