The Pure Farms, Pure Waters Campaign addresses the failure to regulate pollution from industrialized swine, poultry and dairy facilities that is devastating rivers, lakes and estuaries, while educating the public and decision makers about the impacts of and alternatives to industrialized livestock operations, supporting communities and local farmers, and advocating for sustainable food systems.
The meat production industry, led by multinational corporations, has nearly destroyed the independent family farm. By contracting with formerly independent farmers, the controlling corporations have attempted to shift liability for the pollution caused by their unsustainable, industrial scale production methods to these farmers. Animals are now raised in enormous, confined facilities — referred to as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) — and can confine tens of thousands of animals indoors throughout their short life cycle.
The increase of industrial meat production facilities across the country, especially in high-production states like Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina and Washington, has led to a simultaneous decrease in our quality of life, threatening public health, the environment, and the economy. These operations can produce as much waste as a small city, but without the most basic waste treatment system to process it. As a result, the facilities frequently dispose of untreated animal sewage on adjacent lands far in excess of the amounts needed for crop production and allow that waste to flow into local waterways, contaminating water resources and damaging the health of downstream communities. The most recent EPA report shows that only 36% of the largest industrialized livestock facilities have permits as required by the CWA to control this pollution and many of the states with the highest density of facilities have the lowest level of CWA compliance.
The Pure Farms, Pure Waters campaign combines litigation, legal policy, regulatory solutions, and education and outreach to impacted communities. We are taking action against the most egregious violations, demanding state and federal authorities strengthen and enforce existing prohibitions on the discharge of animal waste into our waterways, seeking to hold corporations that dictate facility operations accountable for waste management practices, and promoting sound policies that protect our waterways and support a new generation of independent farmers.