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The technical designation is CAFO, and it stands for “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation”. To their detractors, they are often referred to simply as “factory farms”. Although CAFO can be very broadly applied to farms with even small numbers of livestock, for those who are opposed to such operations, CAFO refers mainly to very large farms that confine cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, or farmed fish under crowded, inhumane conditions; produce large amounts of toxic waste (manure, and other waste products) that often necessitates large open lagoons for containment; and requires the prophylactic use of antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease.
In this panel discussion, Kathy Hessler, a Lewis and Clark Law School expert on Oregon CAFO’s, reveals a surprising truth: there are no federal laws that address inhumane treatment of farm animals, and most state laws specifically exempt livestock from inclusion in any cruelty to animal laws on the books. When CAFO’s invade a local community, residents (and nearby farms) must often accept living under the constant stench of concentrated manure, and the pollution to nearby rivers and streams that occur from these mega-farm operations.
Joining Hessler in this discussion, Dan Imhoff, author of The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, and Kendra Kimbirauskas, founder of the grassroots activist organization, Friends of Family Farmers. Each of the panelists will discuss their own experience with CAFO’s, the deleterious effects upon local communities, and the environment, and address ways for citizens and local residents to fight back.