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The Problems With Excessive Manure
Farm Sanctuary

An environmental and economic farm planning tool was recently developed by the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota. This computer program was designed to evaluate the environmental and economic impact of alternative tillage, fertilizer, pesticide, and livestock management systems.

One of the most dangerous practices of factory farming is the storage and "use" of liquefied animal waste. The massive quantities of manure generated by CAFOs are stored in holes dug in the earth (referred to as "lagoons") and then spread onto cropland. These manure pits often leak or overflow, releasing toxic bacteria and excess nutrients into groundwater. Decomposing manure emits hazardous gases that degrade air quality. Spreading waste on the ground leads to odor problems and water pollution when more manure is applied than the surrounding land can absorb.

The USDA estimates that animals in the U.S. meat industry produced 1.4 billion tons of waste in 1997 - 130 times the nation's volume of human waste and five tons of animal waste for every U.S. citizen.6

In 1995, 25 million gallons of animal waste spilled from an eight-acre "lagoon" into North Carolina's New River, killing 10 million fish and closing 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shell fishing.7

Manure at cattle feedlots can produce substantial amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, both potent greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

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