August 28, 2014

Watchdog wants action on IL Factory Farm pollution

By Mark Wachtler

August 28, 2014. Pittsfield, IL. (ONN) There are over 10,000 commercial livestock facilities in Illinois. Often called factory-farms, these massive, sprawling complexes can house hundreds of thousands of animals in extremely confined quarters where they’re pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones. But it’s not the animal cruelty that is raising the ire of the Illinoisans who live around them, it’s the unbearable stench, the safety violations, the poisonous run-off and all the other horrors that are destroying neighboring property values and ruining people’s quality of life.

There are over 10,000 livestock factory-farms in Illinois producing 10 million tons of waste annually. Image courtesy of PrairieRivers.org.

The watchdog group Food and Water Watch issued a call to Illinois lawmakers and Governor Quinn to act on their pledges to fix the state’s law governing factory farms. The group is asking the State Legislature to amend the Illinois Livestock Facilities Management Act to tighten up factory farm rules, decrease pollution and improve the rights of rural people who live next to these nightmarish facilities.

Video from rural Illinoisans

Food and Water Watch published a video on their website produced and created by the Prairie Rivers Network to expose the plight of many Illinois rural residents. Located near some of the 10,000 factory farms in Illinois, they tell their individual horror stories of what it’s like to live near one of these facilities. “From the very beginning of the hog facility, we started experiencing, there’s no other word to describe it, but gut-wrenching odors that could just wake you up out of a dead sleep,” one neighbor of an Illinois hog farm said. Another resident described, “It’ll make your nose run and your eyes and lungs burn.”

The video from PrairieRivers.org is titled, ‘Living in Confinement - How Illinois’ livestock law is failing rural communities.’ The narrator begins his description of factory-farms in Illinois saying, “They house hundreds to hundreds of thousands of animals in close quarters. Illinois’ factory-farms produce over 10 million tons of livestock waste annually. Too many of these facilities threaten our environment and quality of life. And the laws currently in place do not protect the people living next to factory-farms.”








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The video goes on to interview individual residents and homeowners who live on the farms and ranches adjacent to the thousands of animal factory-farms in Illinois. “During the warm summer months and some of spring and into the fall, we have to keep our home closed,” said a resident in Ogle County. A Pike County farmer said, “I can’t plan the full use and enjoyment of my farm because I don’t know where the wind is going to be blowing from that day. And I don’t think that’s fair.” An Adams County resident added, “I’m very concerned about the loss in my property value. I’ve pretty much invested my life savings to be here.”

 

 

Factory farm abuses

The video produced by the Prairie Rivers Network and distributed by Food and Water Watch details how many of Illinois’ factory-farms have been caught dumping their poisonous waste products directly into the state’s rivers and waterways. A retired EPA investigator who lives in the state explained that some of these animal facilities have been dumping into the rivers for so long, “nothing can live in the stream.” One outraged resident from McDonough County reminded people that, “Nine of the existing hog confinements in the state of Illinois, in the surrounding area, have been sued by the Attorney General for environmental problems they’ve caused.”

One of the neighbors of an Illinois factory-farm set her sights on the state’s Livestock Facilities law. “What the Illinois law does is stack the cards so much against the neighbors, that in effect, it gives these big factory-farms the right of Eminent Domain,” she explains, “They get to move in and in effect, take over surrounding properties.” Another neighbor added, “The Act doesn’t protect the people that live close to these facilities that are emitting over 146 noxious gasses, some of them that are threatening your health, and your family’s health, and your community’s health.”



Petition to change the Act

Jessica Fujan, Illinois organizer for Food and Water Watch, is asking Illinois residents to sign the group’s online petition and send a message to their State Senators and Representatives calling on them to fix the state’s inadequate factory-farm law.

“Sadly, factory farms in Illinois are among the top polluters; they create noxious fumes, poison waterways and produce as much waste as 89 million people!” Jessica Fujan of FFW warns, “Worst of all, the manure goes untreated, creating serious health risks to residents and visitors in nearby communities. In fact, the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is caused by stormwater runoff from factory farms up the Mississippi River.”

Fujan goes on to appeal, “We have laws that govern factory farms, but they fail to protect rural citizens, visitors and our environment. The Livestock Management Facilities Act is a toothless tiger that leaves us defenseless when we try to hold industrial farms accountable for their waste. These laws desperately need to be updated, and we need your help to do that.”

Visit Food and Water Watch for more information, to view the video, and to sign the online petition. For more information on environmental activism in Illinois, visit PrairieRivers.org.

 

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