Rural Residents Join Fight Against Factory Farms

Environmental groups who oppose industrial-style concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on the grounds that they pollute air and water are finding support from an unexpected source: rural residents. Fed up by lax federal and state regulations — a report last year from the General Accounting Office found that 60 percent of the largest CAFOs are almost entirely unregulated — local grassroots organizations are filing lawsuits across the country. The movement is meeting fierce resistance at the state level where government officials have close ties to agribusiness executives and argue that concentration is required by the global market and jobs will be lost if factory farms are pushed out. “It’s not about smell,” said CAFO owner James McCune. “It’s about people without money complaining about people with money.” Tom Drew, who owns a family farm, counters, “My land is my kingdom, and I shouldn’t have it invaded by odor, by bad disease.”