Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good, Bad and Ugly Hog Farms. Electricity from hog waste. Cold Winds Bring New Boarder.

After this comment by Jo Windmann about my post: http://pennys-tuppence.blogspot.com/2011/01/flood-5-germy-mistakes-you-making.html  I thought that I would look into this a bit farther.

"While you give some wonderful tips on preventing the spread of the common cold and the flu bug you are, unfortunately, very misinformed when it comes to the H1N1 virus and modern hog production. The CDC site in which you linked also states that: "NOTE: This page contains background information about influenza in pigs. This page does NOT contain information about 2009 H1N1 influenza" and I did not add the emphasis, the CDC did. Furthermore, if you would like to know how widespread the so-called "swine flu" is the CDC also reports that "from December of 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported." It should also be noted that according to the CDC the H1N1 swine flu virus (the one that affects pigs) is NOT the SAME as the the H1N1 virus that affects humans. I hate to see intelligent, caring people so radically misinformed and would love to shed more light on the truth about modern pork production.

My family and I raise approx. 26,000 hogs annually in climate controlled barns, which qualify as CAFOs. We are family owned and operated, as are all the CAFOs around us. Just because pigs aren't raised in dirt pens anymore does not mean that they suffer from inhumane conditions or are inadequately fed. Please do not believe everything radical animal rights groups say about us. As farmers and pork producers we strive to give our animals the best care that we can to provide consumers and our own families with quality pork. I implore you to learn more about modern pork production at TheBaconBlogger.blogspot.com and www.youtube.com/user/aaron7816?feature=mhum. You can always learn more at Pork.org as well. "

Jo Windmann's profile says:
"About Me:  I live on a farm in rural Missouri with my family. We raise confinement hogs along with soybeans, corn, and occasionally wheat (when we have time to plant it). I read when I can, write as an obsession, and try to hang-out at home as much as possible. My goal is to help educate others about agriculture and correct the many misconceptions being put out there. I look forward to sharing my views on farming, life, and what ever else that might come to mind. Happy reading."  Her blog: http://thebaconblogger.blogspot.com/

So I found out that there are some very good hog farmers, some bad, and some ugly.

Also, there are people who work around the terrible ones have come down with flu like symptoms.

First some good ones:
A better way: Hog farming that meets the animal's social instincts: http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/depts/pig_page/better_hogs/index.shtml


The Pope of Pork: In tiny towns across Missouri, old-school hog farming stages a comeback — and at tables across the nation, diners rejoice.


Then this video from Jo about their hog farm:


Here is another good one:

Then we get to the bad ones:

A lot of your pork comes from Mexico:
"One of the first things they will want to look at are the hundreds of industrial-scale hog facilities that have sprung up around Mexico in recent years, and the thousands of people employed inside the crowded, pathogen-filled confinement buildings and processing plants.

Industry calls these massive compounds "confined animal feeding operations," or CAFOs (KAY-fohs), though most people know them simply as "factory farms." You have seen them before while flying: Long white buildings lined up in tightly packed rows of three, four or more.

Within each confinement, thousands of pigs are restricted to indoor pens and grain-fed for market, while breeding sows are kept in small metal crates where they spend most of their lives pregnant or nursing piglets.

We know that hog workers in Europe and North America are far more likely than others to be infected with potentially lethal pathogens such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), drug-resistant E. coli and Salmonella, and of course, swine influenza. Many scientists also believe that people who work inside CAFOs are more at risk of contracting and spreading these and other "zoonotic" diseases than those working in smaller-scale operations, with outdoor pens or pasture and far lower animal density." 
More at : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/swine-flu-outbreak----nat_b_191408.html

In Mexico, where standards are more lax than in the United States, the story is even worse.
"Grist’s Tom Philpott reports:
"On Friday, the U.S. disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a timeline of the outbreak containing this nugget, dated April 6 (major tip of the hat to Paula Hay, who alerted me to the Smithfield link on the Comfood listserv and has written about it on her blog, Peak Oil Entrepreneur):
Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.
The real kicker? Thus far, the possible connection to Smithfield’s Mexican operation (Granjas Carroll, above) has not been reported in the U.S. news media.

But it’s all over the Mexican media. The stories tell of giant open air cesspools of improperly treated pig waste creating massive air and water pollution and a breeding ground for virulent pathogens.  “Clouds of flies” swarm over the waste and are the most likely carriers of this new and deadly disease. Now 30% of the area residents around the operation are infected with this new swine flu, and residents are demanding the Mexican government examine Smithfield’s Mexican hog operations as a potential culprit.
The Mexican government’s response? Silence."
 More at: http://www.foodrenegade.com/deadly-swine-flu-outbreak-linked-to-smithfields-cafos/

Factory farms in the US:

hogfarming Cleaning Up Hog Farming Operations.
"The problem has been especially bad in North Carolina, where the number of hogs raised has gone up fourfold in the last two decades—hog farmers there now raise and slaughter some 10 million hogs a year.
In 1995, a hog waste lagoon overflow at Ocean View Farms in North Carolina sent 20 million gallons of hog waste into the New River, causing massive fish kills and contaminating drinking water in several neighboring communities. And the torrential rains and flooding that accompanied 1999’s Hurricane Floyd wreaked havoc on hog farm waste lagoons and surrounding ecosystems across North Carolina."
More at: http://www.thegoodhuman.com/2010/10/10/cleaning-up-hog-farming-operations/

"Emerging contaminants can originate from a variety of animal- and human-waste sources such as this hog production facility."

Then the ugly:


Then more about:    Human health impact:
"According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), farms on which animals are intensively reared can cause adverse health reactions in farm workers. Workers may develop acute and chronic lung disease, musculoskeletal injuries, and may catch infections that transmit from animals to human beings (such as tuberculosis).
Pesticides are used to control organisms which are considered harmful and they save farmers money by preventing product losses to pests. In the US, about a quarter of pesticides used are used in houses, yards, parks, golf courses, and swimming pools and about 70% are used in agriculture.  However, pesticides can make their way into consumers' bodies which can cause health problems. One source of this is bioaccumulation in animals raised on factory farms.

The CDC writes that chemical, bacterial, and viral compounds from animal waste may travel in the soil and water. Residents near such farms report problems such as unpleasant smell, flies and adverse health effects.

The CDC has identified a number of pollutants associated with the discharge of animal waste into rivers and lakes, and into the air. The use of antibiotics may create antibiotic-resistant pathogens; parasites, bacteria, and viruses may be spread; ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorus can reduce oxygen in surface waters and contaminate drinking water; pesticides and hormones may cause hormone-related changes in fish; animal feed and feathers may stunt the growth of desirable plants in surface waters and provide nutrients to disease-causing micro-organisms; trace elements such as arsenic and copper, which are harmful to human health, may contaminate surface waters.

The various techniques of factory farming have been associated with a number of European incidents where public health has been threatened or large numbers of animals have had to be slaughtered to deal with disease. Where disease breaks out, it may spread more quickly, not only due to the concentrations of animals, but because modern approaches tend to distribute animals more widely. The international trade in animal products increases the risk of global transmission of virulent diseases such as swine fever,  BSE, foot and mouth and bird flu.

Forced labor is another problem encountered in factory farming system. Greenpeace’s report Eating Up the Amazon described a set of poor labor conditions at Roncador Farm in Mato Grosso, where workers are responsible for maintaining more than 100,000 cattle and 4,000 ha (9,000 ac) of soybeans:
"Working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, the laborers were forced in live in plastic shanties with no beds or sanitary provision. Water for washing, cooking and drinking came from a cattle watering hole and was stored in barrels previously used for diesel oil and lubricants. There was no opportunity to leave the farm. Goods had to be bought from the farm shop at extortionate prices, putting laborers into ever-increasing debt, which they would never be able to pay off—a form of slavery known as debt bondage.""
More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_farming

Smithfield has been in a lot of trouble over their facilities, so maybe the new owners will do better.

Smithfield sells Oklahoma hog production facilities

"Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE:SFD) announced today that it completed the sale of its hog production operations located in Texhoma, Oklahoma to Prestage Farms, Inc. Specific terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The Texhoma operations house 20,000 sows and contain 71,000 nursery and 172,000 finishing spaces." More at: http://www.porknetwork.com/pork-news/company/Smithfield-sells-Oklahoma-hog-production-facilities.html
(Finishing: This phase is where pigs are fed as much as they wish to eat until they reach market weight of 250 to 275 pounds and provided around 8 sq. ft. of space per pig.)


How does your pork grow?  Pork Production Phases:

Here is recycling at it's best:

Electricity from hog waste

"Officials with Santee Cooper, Environmental Fabrics Inc., a firm based in Gaston, S.C., and Clemson University on Monday announced the construction of a new plant to generate electricity from the methane released by hog waste.
The methane digester will be built on a Williamsburg County hog farm and the electricity generated will be used by customers of Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility.
Environmental Fabrics is building the methane digester that officials say will produce enough electricity to power 90 South Carolina homes.
The company, based just outside Columbia, has installed more than 600 methane digesters around the world, 250 of them in the United States."


The temperature is dropping, and the north winds are cuttingly cold. 
Roni had called me early this morning to ask me to please go down to her house to feed her black lab, which was outside.  She is visiting relatives, and couldn't get back for a couple of days.  I was worried about her dog being out in tonight's 22 deg.   We decided the best thing to do was to bring her dog up here and fix it a bed in my workshop, which is attached to my house.

As I have foster animals which are checked out health wise ready for adoption, I can't let her dog mingle with mine, or even use the same potty area.   When I picked up Jay, I took a leash with me, and brought the dog back here.  We put my great big Mastiff size dog carrier in the workshop, fixed it up with rugs, blankies, food and water.  The dog hopped right in there, so we closed the carrier's door while were were working.

Jay put all the fittings on the cargo trailer's water tank, and we made sure that the drain was going to clear the base.  We fixed a place where the vinyl was letting in the cold wind on my screen porch by putting more screen molding on it. ( We staple clear vinyl inside the screen wire for the winters.)  It rarely gets below 40 deg. out there, so the plants are safe.

Then we hung my washed living room drapes back up.    As long as we were out of the biting wind in the house, workshop or screen porch, we were fine, but there was no way we wanted to work outside in that.  I don't know how the folks up north handle that icy wind all winter long.

When I drove Jay home, I took Roni's dog with me, and let her walk around on a leash.  She wanted back in the car.   When we got back here, she eagerly lead me around to the side door to let me know she wanted back in the workshop.

I didn't close the carrier door, just let her stay in the workshop, so I hope I don't find out that she is a 'chewer' today!


Dizzy-Dick said...

The only meat that taste right is from wild or range fed animals.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

You got that right, Dizzy Dick, thank you for that comment.

Also, if we have to eat them, I like to think that it led a good and happy life, before I put it in my mouth.
Just the thought of all the misery that the factory farmed animals go through, and I just can't touch it.

Sandra said...

We just do Penny, no choice (handle the freezing weather)!

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Hey Sandra, you have thick parkas and things readily available up there that Texans would have to have sent to them.
Not worth it for the few freezing days each year, just stay inside, until you have a dog to walk, that is!
I really bundle up when I take the dogs out, so they are marching on their front feet while waiting for me.
Happy Trails, Penny.

Jo Windmann said...

This was a good post showing both sides of the coin. While there are some very bad apples in the bunch, we are working hard to help educate people about the good pork producers out there. The PorkCheckoff also has a certification program in place to educate farmers on proper handling practices. Thank you for putting our farm in the "good" category. We go to great lengths to care for our pigs. After all, you have to take care of what takes care of you.