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Letter: Research shows CAFOs bad news for community

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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: Jay Beaman


While I am pleased to hear the County Commissioners are approving the moratorium on CAFOs, allowing the study committee time to do research, I can’t help but worry the big picture is being missed.

If you do any research on CAFOs, you will find numerous studies have been completed and reports written on the effects of CAFOs, proving there is no benefit to the surrounding community. In fact, there are only detrimental effects.

This leaves me struggling to figure out why there is any dispute at all.

Why would anybody want this in the community? It is a fact that CAFOs are the most financially efficient way to produce the meat we all eat, but the only local benefit is financial gain to the CAFO manager.

It should also be noted it seems the majority of CAFO proponents are out-of-town lobbyists and those who stand to reap some indirect financial gain. Many people claim anti-CAFO is anti-farming, but research shows CAFOs have and will continue to put small family farms out of business. Between 1985 and 2003, the number of hog farmers in the U.S. fell by more than 80 percent.

Another common claim is that to build and operate CAFOs is a person’s right of private property, but those rights have never included the right to use property in a way that adversely affects the value of nearby properties or quality of life in the community. CAFOs clearly have the capability of doing both.

The U.S. courts have determined that CAFOs represent a potential risk to public health and have upheld the rights of counties to regulate the location and operation of CAFOs through local health ordinances.

The real issue is that ordinances that were created and adopted to protect the rights of all property owners and prevent the exact disputes we are currently experiencing are not being adhered to. We also seem to be missing the system of checks and balances that would prevent this from continuing to happen.

The criterion for a variance approval needs to be more clearly understood and regulated so future approved CAFOs are placed in properly selected locations so as not to interfere with the rights of other residents. What is important to understand here is that we all have the same rights and are bound by the same ordinances, and our system needs to reflect that.

One last thing to consider is that based on research estimates, the current operations in the county produce more waste than the resident population of the entire county. That waste will likely be hauled and spread in many areas of the county, so just because you don’t live near one does not mean it won’t affect you in the near future.

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