Environment & Industrial Livestock Operations
The two words, economics and ecology have the same root. “Eco” means home. Economics is the management of the home and ecology is the study of the home. In the issue of large hog barn development it is important to remember that the economic and the ecological concerns are intertwined and cannot be separated.
The principles of Ecology are:
- everything is connected to everything else.
- there is no free lunch.
Contrary to principle that everything is connected to everything else, regulations concerning factory farms rely on high degree of separation:
- the contents of the manure lagoons must be kept away from ground water.
- the manure spread on fields must be prevented from flowing into surface waters.
- pig population concentrations are kept away from one another to prevent the spread of disease.
But everything is connected. Spills and accidents happen.
Ecological principle of diversity and stability
A strong ecosystem has many interrelated parts, and is often portrayed as the “web of life.” This diversity ensures resilience even under severe conditions.
Factory farm mega barns are part of a monoculture approach, and therefore are inherently unstable.
Even though industrial livestock production is often called part of an “economic diversification” strategy, they are not characterized by diversity:
- Thousands of animals of one species confined together.
- Hundreds of thousands of litres of their wastes concentrated in single location. The feed is a monoculture. crop.
- Manure is spread on a small area, distant from where feed is grown and meat eaten.
Concentration of livestock production turns nutrients into poisons, provides an environment for disease epidemics, overwhelms capacity of local ecosystem to cycle nutrients, and depletes areas from which resources are removed. It is no longer farming, but an industrial process.