Some of the most pressing environmental issues stem from the production of CAFO cows and provide compelling reasons to limit consumption of their milk and meat. Five areas of concern leave the public with serious doubts on whether they should avoid CAFO cows altogether: groundwater contamination, air emissions, environmental damage costs, antibiotic and hormone laden meat and inhumane treatment of the animals. Visit the 5 reasons to avoid CAFO cows list for details.
Customers frequenting the meat and dairy sections of local grocers will inevitably encounter products from concentrated animal feeding operations known as CAFOs. Since 1976, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defined large-scale industrial agricultural facilities that raise animals as such, the density of the animals, their exposure to nature, the feed quality and ecological effects have all been monitored. Although livestock farming and meat and dairy production has significantly increased since the inception of CAFOs, the environmental impact and humane treatment of animals confined to close quarters with limited outdoor activity calls into question whether CAFOs are a true advancement in animal agriculture.
A CAFO must first be designated as an animal feeding operation (AFO), whereby animals are kept confined and fed in a lot or facility for 45 days or more per year and vegetation, crops or forage growth are only sustained for a normal growing period. Because large corrals of animals are managed in CAFOs, their waste, pollution and contact with the water supply are continuously regulated by the EPA. When properly maintained, CAFOs can provide a low-cost source of meat, poultry and dairy. However, many CAFOs run under poor conditions, failing to properly dispose of the large amounts of biological animal waste and its contact with human water supplies, making the whole operation a serious biohazard with negative impacts on the environment.