Policy statement: Moratorium urged for CAFOs

Larry Limpf

Saying there is a need for more data on the operations of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, a public health organization has issued a policy statement calling for a moratorium on new and expanding CAFOs.
The statement by the American Public Health Association recommends a complete halt on the feeding operations until additional scientific data have been collected and public health concerns addressed.
“CAFOs are the dominant production model for food animals in the United States, but government oversight and policies designed to safeguard the health of individuals and the environment from these operations have been inadequate,” says Bob Martin, director of the Food System Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “This policy statement puts the public’s health first and if observed, it has the potential to protect the health of some of our nation’s most vulnerable communities.”
The Precautionary Moratorium on New and Expanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations statement was prepared by APHA organizations in conjunction with members of the Center for a Livable Future.
The statement says there is an urgent need for ending the routine use of antibiotics in food animal production as well as providing a mechanism that requires large scale producers to report environmental emissions hazards.
The scale, density and practices associated with these operations present a range of public health and ecological hazards, including large volumes of untreated animal waste, the release of environmental contaminants to air, water, and soil, and the generation and spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, the statement says.

Complaint filed
Three Wood County residents about eight years ago filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, requesting the agency withdraw Ohio’s authority over CAFO permitting.
The petitioners, Vickie Askins, her husband Larry, and Jack Firsdon, claim Ohio’s CAFO permitting program, as it is being administered, violates the federal Clean Water Act.
They contend the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s program allows CAFOs to circumvent manure management regulations by simply selling or giving their manure to others for fertilizer. The result is vast amounts of CAFO-generated manure making its way to streams and waterways in the Lake Erie watershed, contributing to harmful algal blooms.
The federal EPA granted the Ohio EPA authorization to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) in 1974 but state officials in 2006 requested permit-enforcement authority over CAFOs be transferred to the agriculture department.
According to U.S. EPA region 5, the transfer request lacked required data and the state submitted a revised request in 2015. But the region 5 office still hadn’t decided on the request.
In July 2018, Vickie Askins filed a complaint with the U.S. EPA’s Office of Inspector General and this past May the office issued a report saying the region 5 office has had sufficient time to reach a decision.
“EPA region 5’s delay in timely addressing these…matters has created uncertainty for the state and regulated community,’ the IG report concludes.
The regional office responded it agreed with the report and plans to complete action on the state request and petition by March 2020.


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