Thursday, December 2, 2010

Idaho is Full of Shit

Posted By on Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 12:21 PM

A few months ago, BW sent reporter Scott Weaver on what we dubbed "the shit tour," a day-long look at mega dairies and feedlots in the Magic Valley. Weaver reported:

During the 1980s, an exodus of dairies from California reshaped Idaho. By 1997, income from dairy products exceeded those from the state's signature crop, potatoes. The next year, dairy outpaced both potatoes and beef. Dairy operators fleeing California's regulations found in Idaho a state with space and a welcoming attitude.

But the boom didn't translate into more dairies. Between 1991 and 2007, the number of dairies dropped from 1,952 to 648. During the same period, the amount of milk produced skyrocketed from just less than 3 billion pounds to 11 billion pounds.

What was once an industry of small farms has become dependent on CAFOs. The average herd size increased from 91 cows in 1991 to 783 in 2007. The decrease in dairies coupled with the increase in herd sizes puts more animals in fewer concentrated areas.

Weaver went on to report on not only the environmental risks and known violations but also the emotional and physical toll CAFO neighbors suffer.

This week, Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group watchdogging food and water safety, released its Factory Farm Map, detailing the number of animals on factory farms in each state.

Not surprisingly, Idaho ranks "extreme" in most of the southern part of the state for animal density, with Gooding, Cassia and Jerome counties leading the way. Interesting Disgusting factoid from the Factory Farm Map: factory farm animals in Idaho produced as much untreated manure as 130 million people—80 times the state's population.

Red represents the areas with the highest concentration of factory animals.
  • Red represents the areas with the highest concentration of factory animals.

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