CAFOs aren't your grandfather's farms

INDIANA - Indiana is a farming state, and Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration wants it to stay that way. He wants agribusiness to be a cash crop.

The first is most certainly true, and the second is all well and good. The trouble is, farming isn't what it used to be. The bucolic settings of memory, movies and lore - some livestock peacefully grazing in the fields, the farmer wiping his brow with a kerchief as he takes a break on his tractor, cornfields and other fields forming a checkerboard stretching to the horizon - are being replaced by more mechanized, more efficient and larger operations.

Sometimes, it seems, the "business" is plowing under the "agri."

The economies of scale - increased output of a product decreases the per-unit cost of production - can make larger farms more profitable and, therefore, more desirable.

And so we have concentrated animal feeding operations - huge, mechanized and efficient farms that raise thousands of head of livestock such as cattle, hogs or poultry. The animals themselves may be sent to market or their products - the milk from cattle or the eggs from poultry - may be sold.

With the huge operations come huge amounts of waste, and that waste has to go somewhere. And that waste also smells. All of that is what worries CAFOs potential neighbors.

calendar icon 12 June 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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