Lake group wants CAFO moratorium

Larry Limpf

News Editor

Members of Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie renewed their call for a moratorium on more Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, citing the impact the operations have on the Lake Erie watershed.
During a press conference at International Park in Toledo, the group said its research showed a “staggering difference” between measuring the impact of CAFOs on Lake Erie by the amount of phosphorus animals produce rather than by the volume of manure as previously measured.
“Nearly 25 million animals in over 800 animal feeding factories generate more phosphorus every year than the combined human populations of Ohio, Indiana, Delaware, Vermont and North and South Dakota,” said Marj Mulcahy, an ACLE researcher. “After filing records requests with state governments, reviewing published reports, and analyzing the data through the lens of phosphorus production, it is painfully clear the state and federal governments have failed massively in their responsibilities to Lake Erie and the people who rely on it.”
High levels of phosphorus can lead to algae blooms that produce algal toxins, which can be harmful to human and animal health, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The ACLE used data from a 2019 report by the Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Law and Policy Center: “Explosion of Unregulated Factory Farms in Maumee Watershed Fuels Lake Erie’s Toxic Blooms,” which examined only the Maumee River watershed portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin.
By using permit data from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan and correlating the data with satellite images, the two organizations were able to geo-locate the permitted animal facilities. Other facilities were listed as unpermitted.
The River Raisin watershed in Michigan and the Cedar-Portage and Sandusky River watersheds in Ohio are also part of the WLEB. For those areas, the groups included only the large facilities permitted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.
Values in the “Daily manure production and characteristics, as excreted (per head per day)” cited in the Ohio Administrative Code, were used to determine phosphate excreted by dairy cows, beef cattle, poultry, and swine according to each species and weight class.
The value in the USDA “Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook” was used to determine how much phosphorus an average human excretes daily. That value was used to determine how many humans it would take to equal the phosphate excreted by the animals housed in feeding factories in the WLEB.

Data hidden?
Members of the ACLE also said governmental agencies are making it more difficult to find information about animal feeding factory operations.
ACLE Researcher, Vickie Askins, said the Ohio Department of Agriculture has hidden reports that were once open to public review
“We researched over 80 ODA fact sheets for data about the number of Ohio-permitted facilities, animals, and amounts of manure in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Previously these were posted on the ODA website, but now we have to file public records requests to get them. Even then, the data and formatting are inconsistent, making it harder to see what’s going on. The industry is further protected from public oversight by regulations that allow millions of gallons of manure to be sold to ‘brokers,’ relieving operators from any responsibility to report what’s in it, where it goes, how it’s applied,” she said.


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association