Governor Kasich and state lawmakers need to enact commonsense safeguards to protect local residents from these unpermitted and under-regulated industrial livestock operations that includes:
- Requiring each livestock operation to develop and follow a plan that will prevent pollution, and protect people’s health.
- Stopping excess manure applications by capping amounts at just what crops need for optimal growth; also called the agronomic rate.
- Improving compliance and enforcement by establishing an inspection program to ensure the plans and rules are being appropriately followed.
- Setting pollution limits for Ohio’s rivers and streams.
These are reasonable measures that would go a long way to improve the lives of thousands of Ohioans who live next to unpermitted livestock operations, and they will also help prevent toxic algae from plaguing Ohio’s lakes and rivers.
About Ohio Industrial Livestock
Ohio livestock producers raise millions of animals a year, ranging from chickens to cattle and pigs. In fact, we are the second largest egg producer in the country and rank eighth in sales of pork. Undoubtedly, Ohio’s livestock industry is an important part of the state’s economy and rural way of life.
With so many animals in the state, most are concentrated into large-scale facilities, rather than raised on a traditional farm. Combined, the amount of manure these facilities generate each day equals approximately a quarter of the daily waste produced by the entire U.S. population.
To ensure these livestock facilities properly manage the large quantities of manure and prevent contaminating our rivers, lakes, and drinking water, Ohio has a comprehensive system of laws and regulations that require public notification, permits, inspections and detailed reporting. These regulations work to ensure livestock facilities properly store and utilize the vast amount of manure they produce.
To be clear, this complex system could certainly see improvements, but the real problem is that Ohio has thousands of livestock operations, and the rules only apply to about 230 of the largest facilities. The remainder do not have the legal number of livestock that would require a state permit or adherence to a management plan.
Sometimes these concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are just barely under the limit so they do not have to notify their neighbors or even register with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Unlike home septic systems, there is no requirement for CAFOs to register or file maintenance records to show their operations are not causing pollution. Therefore, the agency doesn’t even know how many exist across the state.
Over the past few years, lack of oversight has become readily apparent. Local residents in several communities have publicly voiced concerns and frustration once the rumors proved true about a new CAFO facility proposed in their neighborhood.
We’ve collected stories from residents in several counties such as Knox, Putnam, Darke and Fayette. These good people are pleading for help, but few of our leaders in Columbus are listening. We have to do better for our fellow Ohioans.