Why Making Snow Angels May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Animal poo sounds like the subject for some great grade 6 jokes. An opportunity for normally well mannered young men to expand their vocabulary. Lets face it the slang terms for animal excrement could fill a book. For the more creative there are of course the classic uses such as putting some in a paper bag, placing it on a neighbors porch, setting it alight, ringing the door bell and running away. This is a real rib tickler when you are age eleven.

Animal waste when you start to look at the commercial level is a lot less funny than an irate neighbor with doggy doo on his shoe.

Factory Farms produce huge amounts of waste, much of it in a liquid form. It is often stored in ponds, or the more politically correct Lagoons. Iowa has 5500 locations that are classified as CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), in plain english thes are places with a whole bunch of animals in very close proximity. Poo is a paramount problem.

Since the inception of CAFO the standard method of disposing of the plethora of poo has been to spray it on the fields as fertilizer. This is great for the CAFO, but possibly less appreciated by the residents both in smell and potential health risks.

Iowa is like many states, it does have all four seasons, and winter brings a season of frozen ground covered by sometimes many inches of snow. Of course this has little effect on the animals in the CAFO, the propensity to produce poo is just as prevalent in winter as any other season. The problem though is that the poo pools have a limited capacity. Poo is a problem.

The solution was to not worry about the snow, ice, and frozen ground, just spray it anyway! Poo is natural, poo is good! Of course minor issues such as poo becoming part of the groundwater come the spring thaw was ignored.

I was sent an article today that was written by an Iowa organization, The Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement. I think it is important, and have decided to publish it in total. Everyone needs to understand just how serious the issue is.

On Tuesday, February 9, the Iowa House Agriculture Committee unanimously passed out of committee HF 2324, a bill that would severely weaken a ban on the application of factory farm manure on frozen and snow-covered ground, according to a press release and action alert from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI). The bill was pushed through the House Ag committee less than 24 hours after it was introduced late in the day Monday.

Grassroots activism won passage of the ban during the 2009 legislation. This new bill would grant an emergency exception to last year’s ban for all factory farms built prior to July 1, 2009 because of a lack of storage for their manure. This would encompass the vast majority of more than 5,500 factory farms in the state. “Poor manure management is not an emergency,” says CCI Executive Director Hugh Espey.

A similar bill, SB 2229 is also making its way though the Iowa Senate.

Resuming manure application on frozen and snow-covered ground would result in continued water pollution in a state that already suffers with some of the worst water quality of the nation. High levels of ammonia pollution all across Iowa have been traced back to manure application on frozen and snow-covered ground.

The Environmental Protection Agency came down strongly in favor of a ban without exceptions last year. Passage of this new legislation would be a clear violation of the Clean Water Act and would also undermine the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ authority to regulate factory farms.

Simon Barrett

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