Factory Farm

FCCC fights factory farm

Josh Defibaugh

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 A proposed Confined or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), commonly referred to as a “factory farm,” in Lewistown Ill., violates multiple aspects of the Livestock Management Facilities Act. The proposal has multiple groups concerned for the wellbeing of Lewistown and the surrounding communities fighting to stop the CAFO. 

 Cindy Arnett, the spokesperson for the Fulton County Concerned Citizens (FCCC), has been one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed CAFO, known as the Bear Creek 4 swine confinement project. Another two groups, the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) and the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW) are also both opponents of the proposed CAFO.

 “A CAFO must be half a mile from the city limit — this one is 2240 feet,” Arnett said. “We also have a home that they state is one-fourth miles and cannot possibly be that far, possibly two homes’ measurements are in process.”

 One of the key provisions that the Bear Creek 4 project will violate regards a recreational area according to Arnett.

 “A CAFO must not be within one-half mile of a common place of assembly, this one will be within a few hundred feet,” Arnett said. “We send letters each week proving this fact.”

The place of assembly in question is the Milton Loop Trail recreational area.

“A CAFO must not be within one-half mile of a common place of assembly, this one will be within a few hundred feet,” Arnett said. “We send letters each week proving this fact.” The place of assembly in question is the Milton Loop Trail recreational area.

“Our city limit is actually 2,440 (feet) from this industrial swine facility,” Arnett said in a press release earlier this week. “The livestock facility law states an operation of this size must be set back a half-mile from a populated area.”

Another concern vocalized by the FCCC, the SRAP and the ICCAW revolves around the issues of decreased health effects.

“Public health is one of my biggest concerns because the industry has a stranglehold on our elected officials,” said Kate Hudson, of the ICCAW, in an interview with the Peoria Journal Star in 2011. “I have worked with people across the country who lived near factory farms who developed permanent disabilities from toxic emissions that invaded their homes.”

“It has been proven continually that property values drop up to 55 percent up to three miles around the CAFO,” Arnett said. “The quality of life for the surrounding neighboring body is greatly diminished, the community will be left with a continual pollution issue to continually monitor for a hog factory that they do not want.”

Beyond the diminishing property values caused in part by CAFOs, other detrimental environmental affects have been attributed to CAFOs not only across the United States but throughout the world, as well.

Industrial swine, the production in which the Beaver Creek 4 operation will specialize, is a large source of greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation, pollution, land degradation and loss of biodiversity are all effects that have been attributed to CAFOs.

“A neighboring farm to a CAFO in Elmwood, Ill. found their family increasingly ill,” Arnett said, telling the story of CAFOs effects on humans. “When they realized it was their water from their well and had it tested and found it so high in bacteria above the human usage range, they were instructed to not even take a bath in their well water.” The bacteria levels were within the range of safe consumption before the CAFO.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) lists that only 173 large scale CAFOs are in operation; however, independent research, lead by the FCCC, indicates that there are at least 313.

“This is the governing body that is to keep control of them making sure they are following all the laws and monitoring pollution from them,” Arnett said. “Fulton County shows six large CAFOs but actually has 11, so five are under the radar of the officials again.”

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