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Letter: Negative effects of hog operation will be many

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Annalee Huey


The application for a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) proposed by William Gelfius in eastern Bartholomew County will come before the Board of Zoning Appeals again later this month. This proposed hog factory will affect not only those of us living near the site; the negative effects of this kind of industry will impact the entire county.

Those living closest to the proposed hog factory certainly have a greater chance of being affected. Concern over odors, airborne pathogens and insects that can carry them has been documented in many publications. However, according to the National Association of Local Boards of Health, CAFO odors can be smelled from as much as five or six miles away, although three miles is a more common distance. Anyone visiting Anderson Falls will also be subject to these problems. This Nature Preserve, the only specified Nature Preserve in Bartholomew County, is across the road from the land where the CAFO is planned.

According to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, more than 1 million Americans are estimated to take their drinking water from groundwater that shows moderate or severe contamination with nitrogen-containing pollutants. Much of this pollution is caused by the high rate of land application of animal wastes from CAFOs.

Ammonia in CAFO waste can cause bright green algae blooms in ditches, streams and lakes. When the algae blooms die off, oxygen in the water is depleted, which leads to fish kills. Water contamination from CAFOs can come from several sources and can contain pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli and cryptosporidium. Water is not static. Water flows, and if the water around this proposed hog factory becomes polluted, it will flow into Fall Fork Creek, where Anderson Falls is located, to Clifty Creek, to the East Fork of White River.

CAFOs can affect the economy in a variety of ways. They bring very few jobs into the community and do not tend to bring further industry to the area, except for maybe more CAFOs. Although studies differ as to the extent of the decrease in property values, there is much consensus to the fact that the closer one lives to a CAFO, the larger the decrease in property value. Over time that leads to a decrease in taxes and revenue supporting the entire county. If the water supply does become polluted, county dollars will be spent cleaning up the problem, not the CAFO owner’s dollars.

Effects of a CAFO are felt not just in the immediate area surrounding such an operation. They have far-reaching implications. The negative aspects associated with these industrial facilities are capable of harming thousands of residents, whereas the positive aspects will benefit only a few. CAFOs work in areas that are sparsely populated, not situated near homes or public areas. This proposed CAFO would be near both.

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