Guest Column: CAFOs in the dark

By Loka Ashwood
Rural Residents for Responsible Agriculture

Something that comes in the dark of the night and thrives in hiding does not want to get caught. We call that something a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). That something is creeping in when no one’s looking, plaguing our rural communities, stripping rural property owners of their rights, and decimating our countryside for future generations.

Do you think we are exaggerating? Our group, the Rural Residents for Responsible Agriculture, is fighting to prevent the construction of a more than 18,000-hog factory in McDonough and Schuyler counties. This facility is proposed in part by Professional Swine Management, a corporate conglomerate that operates facilities in at least three states and carries with it a legacy of pollution.

Professional Swine Management (PSM) was sued and is currently being sued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) for pollution in five counties in our state: Adams, Fulton, McDonough, Schuyler and Hancock.

The types of pollution in these lawsuits include: openly burning medical waste and dead hog carcasses; a manure stream approximately 2 feet wide and 200 yards long flowing into a tributary; waterbodies colored purple from waste stocks of dead hogs; discolored lakes smelling like swine waste; and 90,000 gallons of waste leaking into a local creek.

Madigan provides an especially disturbing account of one of PSM’s facilities that was burned to the ground in 2009, but had plenty of time to allegedly pollute before that. At the Timberline Facility in Schuyler County, purple-colored discharge leaked into a nearby waterbody from where the facility’s dead animals were composting. A few years later, more than 13,000 hogs died at that facility in a fire. If they didn’t burn to death, they were euthanized.

Tell us, fellow citizens, farmers and rural dwellers, do you think PSM and its cohorts should be allowed to build another facility? Should our communities and homes be destroyed for the profit of mostly out-of-state investors?

If this CAFO is built, the 43 people living near it will see their property values plummet. Studies estimate residential value property loss near a CAFO between 50 and 100 percent, and even up to 6.6 percent 3 miles away. As far as our health goes, studies have shown CAFO emissions result in increased cases of asthma, headaches, nausea and eye irritation, especially for children.

Before your own home and community are threatened like ours, please call your local county board members, your representatives, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Tell them you want no more CAFOs. And tell them you do not want Professional Swine Management to build any more facilities in Illinois.

Visit Rural Residents for Responsible Agriculture online at

From the June 8-14, 2011 issue

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