Factory-Style Feedlots Create Pollution in Rural Communities

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Water Network have compiled a report showing that factory-style feedlots create pollution in rural communities.

| December 2001/January 2002

Rural communities welcomed these new businesses until they discovered factory-style feedlots create pollution. 

At the beginning of the farm crisis in the late 1970s, suffering rural communities welcomed factory-style feedlots, hoping to prop up sagging economies. It was only after these factory-style feedlots moved in that neighbors started to notice the real price of the operations to air, water and life quality. Now, as many communities are trying to evict these polluting operations, several feedlot corporations are looking to expand.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Water Network have compiled the report "Cesspools of Shame" The full report is available online at NRDC's Web site at

Here are just a few numbers from the report:

  • 300 miles farthest distance away from a feedlot that pollution can be found in a watershed
  • 700,000 number of sows Smithfield Foods owns
  • 45 million gallons size of the largest feedlot sewage lagoons
  • 23 times more waste a cow produces than a person does
  • 500,000 number of hog farms lost over the past 15 years
  • 0 change in the number of hogs produced over the past 15 years
  • 13,000 EPA estimate of how many U.S. operations should have environmental permits
  • 2,520 actual number of permitted feedlots
  • 11 miles stretch of Mussel Fork Creek in Missouri rendered lifeless in 1995 by six spills from Premium Standard Farms

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