Letter: Our family farms are in danger
Dr. Madeline Luke writes, "The anti-corporate farming law, which tries to keep North Dakota farming under the control of North Dakota farmers, will crumble and decimate the remaining small family ranches and farms."
Gov. Burgum and some legislators are aggressively inviting corporations to build Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) here. This is animal agriculture in the form of thousands of animals crowded together in closed facilities, consuming large amounts of water and shipped in feed while producing meat mostly for the four packing companies that control America’s meat supply and huge amounts of manure, urine, and airborne waste.
The anti-corporate farming law, which tries to keep North Dakota farming under the control of North Dakota farmers, will crumble and decimate the remaining small family ranches and farms. Densely packed animals are more easily infected. Inappropriate antibiotic use, in people or animals, contributes to antibiotic resistant infections. Severe illness or death from food produced near CAFOs because of antibiotic resistant bacteria have already occurred.
Iowa has been sued over extra costs to treat drinking water contaminated by CAFO run off. Excessive nitrates, phosphorus as well as antibiotics, heavy metals and hormones in soil and water all come with CAFOs . The Department of Environmental Quality with a static budget of $14 million is ill equipped to deal with an onslaught of CAFO permits and inspections. CAFOs require workers; one corporate CAFO reported an annual turnover of over 30% in 2017, 2018 and 2019. What happens to community cohesion?
A medium sized CAFO in the northwest part of the state needs up to a third of a township to spread its pig and chicken manure. Who wants to live near a CAFO ? What hunter wants to crawl through a manure covered field? I spent the whole month of November indoors in Worthington, Minnesota, heart of pig country, because of the ever-present odor. North Dakota has fresh air, clean water and the potential for our family farmers and ranchers to supply high-quality food. This is worth protecting.
Dr. Madeline Luke lives in Valley City, N.D.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.