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November 2010 report by Environment American Research & Policy Center on the impact of agribusiness, alongside market dominance and vertical integration, on the nation's rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways The Role of America’s Biggest Agribusiness Companies in the Pollution of our Rivers, Lakes and Coastal Waters Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways The Role of America’s Biggest Agribusiness Companies in the Pollution of our Rivers, Lakes and Coastal Waters Written by: Tony Dutzik, Travis Madsen and Elizabeth Ridlington, Frontier Group John Rumpler, Environment America Research & Policy Center November 2010 Acknowledgments Environment America Research & Policy Center thanks Stacy James, water resources scientist at the Prairie Rivers Network and Michele Merkel, Chesapeake regional coordinator for the Waterkeeper Alliance, for their review of this report. Thanks also to Luke Metzger of Environment Texas Research & Policy Center and Rob Kerth, Ben Davis and Susan Rakov of Frontier Group for their editorial support. Environment America Research & Policy Center thanks the Town Creek Foundation and the McKnight Foundation for making this report possible. The authors bear responsibility for any factual errors. The recommendations are those of Environment America Research & Policy Center. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders or those who provided review. © 2010 Environment America Research & Policy Center Environment America Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting America’s air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision makers, and help Ameri- cans make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information about Environment America Research & Policy Center or for additional copies of this report, please visit www. environmentamerica.org/center. Frontier Group conducts independent research and policy analysis to support a cleaner, healthier and more democratic society. Our mission is to inject accurate information and compelling ideas into public policy debates at the local, state and federal levels. For more information about Frontier Group, please visit www.frontiergroup.org. Cover photos: Manure spreader: Tim McCabe, USDA Natural Resources Conser- vation Service; cattle feedlot: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; corn field and ethanol plant: Jim Parkin, istockphoto.com; hog waste lagoon: Bob Nichols, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Layout: To the Point Publications, www.tothepointpublications.com Table of Contents Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Big Agribusiness: A Big Polluter of America’s Waterways . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Agribusiness is Polluting America’s Waterways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Corporate Agribusiness as an Environmental Threat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways . . .17 Big Chicken: Perdue, Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride and the Fouling of Treasured American Waterways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 The Hog Bosses: Smithfield, Cargill and the Environmental Toll of Pork Production . . 23 Beef Factories: Pollution from JBS and Cargill Processing Plants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Dairy Dangers: Factory Farms and the Death, Rebirth, and “Redeath” of a Great Lake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 King Corn: ADM and the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Policy Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Executive Summary P ollution from agribusiness is agricultural pollution of America’s water- responsible for some of America’s ways, therefore, the problem begins at the most intractable water quality top. Major agribusiness firms are directly problems – including the “dead zones” or indirectly responsible for the degrada- in the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico tion of many American waterways, and and Lake Erie, and the pollution must be held accountable for stopping that of countless streams and lakes with pollution and cleaning up the mess. nutrients, bacteria, sediment and pesticides. Big agribusiness is a major polluter Farming is not an inherently pol- of America’s waterways. luting activity. But today’s agribusiness • Agriculture contributes to making practices – from the concentration of more than 100,000 miles of rivers thousands of animals and their waste in and streams and 2,500 square miles small feedlots to the massive planting of of inland lakes too polluted to sustain chemical-intensive crops such as corn – important uses such as swimming, make water pollution from agribusiness fishing, drinking, or the maintenance both much more likely and much more of healthy populations of wildlife. dangerous. The shift to massive corporate agri- • The past several decades have seen business operations is no accident. It is major changes in the nation’s agricul- largely the result of decisions made in tural system that have increased the boardrooms of some of the world’s the power of agribusiness firms and largest corporations. When it comes to magnified the potential for pollution: 4 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways º A few companies now control the center of some of the nation’s most America’s food system. The severe water pollution problems. four largest firms in each sector produce 72 percent of the na- • Chicken farming produces vast tion’s beef, 63 percent of the na- amounts of nutrient-laden poultry lit- tion’s pork and 57 percent of the ter that can pollute local waterways. nation’s chicken – giving those º Perdue’s operations on the Del- companies vast control over the marva Peninsula contribute to the agricultural marketplace and the persistent problems with algae practices farmers use to raise blooms and low dissolved oxygen food. In addition, key agribusi- in the Chesapeake Bay. The 568 ness industries such as chicken million chickens produced on the and pork production have moved Delmarva Peninsula each year – to a vertically integrated model many of them raised by Perdue’s that gives giant corporations contract farmers in the region nearly complete control over – produce more than 1.1 billion the production process from an pounds of chicken litter annually. animal’s birth to the delivery of When nutrients from chicken processed meat to store shelves. manure find their way into the º Agribusiness firms have re- bay, they contribute to the algae shaped how America pro- blooms that leave only 12 percent duces its food. Through vertical of the Chesapeake Bay with ad- integration, control of agricul- equate levels of dissolved oxygen tural markets, and their power during the summer months. to influence public policy, big agribusiness firms have reshaped º Pollution from Tyson Foods and how America produces its food. other chicken producers has led to Since 1993, for example, the the degradation of water quality share of the nation’s milk cows in the Illinois River in Arkansas on large farms of 200 cows or and Oklahoma. There are 2,800 more increased from 31 percent poultry farms in the Illinois River to 67 percent. Similar shifts watershed, which produce as much toward concentrated animal waste as would be produced by feeding operations (CAFOs) have 10.7 million people – much of taken place in the chicken and which is spread on agricultural pork industries, magnifying the land without treatment. Excessive potential for pollution of nearby pollution from phosphorus and waterways. Meanwhile, agribusi- other nutrients has triggered algae ness-supported policy changes blooms that affect water quality in have fueled massive planting of the river. chemical-intensive corn for etha- º A chicken processing plant oper- nol, corn syrup and animal feed, ated by Pilgrim’s Pride (now further contributing to pollution owned by the Brazilian firm, JBS) of waterways. is the largest source of nitrogen pollution that has contributed to As demonstrated by the case stud- water quality problems in north- ies presented in this report, giant east Texas’ Lake o’ the Pines. The corporate agribusiness firms are at lake – a prime recreational re- Executive Summary 5 source for its region – has suffered º Brazilian food colossus JBS has in recent years from fish kills, quietly become one of the na- algae blooms and beach closures. tion’s top beef producers. In so The Pilgrim’s Pride plant is a doing, it has inherited a legacy repeat violator of its Clean Water of environmental pollution. The Act discharge permits. company recently paid a $1.9 million fine for pollution from its rendering plant located along • Concentrated hog farming opera- Pennsylvania’s Skippack Creek, tions have damaged waterways from which triggered a series of fish North Carolina to the Midwest. kills. Pennsylvania environ- º Waste from hogs owned by mental officials regularly found Smithfield Foods and other excessive amounts of E. coli, major hog producers has degraded ammonia, phosphorus and other water quality in North Carolina’s pollutants in the creek down- Neuse River, which has experi- stream of the plant. enced a series of massive fish kills in recent years. The 3 million • The dramatic shift to factory hogs in the Neuse River basin are dairy farming is polluting local responsible for half of the phos- waterways and contributing to the phorus and a third of the nitrogen re-emergence of old water quality finding its way into the waterways problems. of the Neuse River basin. These nutrients fuel algae blooms that º The emergence of factory dairy starve the river of oxygen and can farms – driven by consolida- trigger fish kills. tion in the milk industry and the efforts of companies such as º Despite decades of evidence that Vreba-Hoff – has had disastrous the Illinois River in Illinois is suf- environmental results in Michi- fering from nutrient pollution and gan and Ohio, where pollution is a major source of nutrients to from those farms has polluted the Mississippi River and the Gulf local waterways and may be con- of Mexico, agricultural giant Car- tributing to the re-emergence of gill is intensifying its factory pork the dead zone in Lake Erie. farming operations in the area and has released increasing amounts of nitrate pollution from its slaugh- • Massive production of chemical- terhouse along the Illinois River. intensive corn – driven by public That slaughterhouse is one of policies that subsidize corn produc- three Cargill-owned facilities to tion – is wreaking havoc on water- rank among the nation’s top 20 ways, including the Gulf of Mexico. dischargers of toxic chemicals to º No company has played a larger waterways in 2008. Nitrate pollu- role in creating the nation’s tion from the slaughterhouse has modern corn economy than increased tenfold since 1998. Archer Daniels Midland, which • Massive beef processing facilities add has used its political clout to win to the environmental toll of agribusi- policies that subsidize corn pro- ness operations. duction, promote the manufac- 6 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways ture of high-fructose corn syrup, are legally responsible for the waste and encourage the use of ethanol they produce. as a fuel. These policies have led to the planting of an additional • Enforce existing laws by requir- 12.1 million acres of corn – an ing agribusiness operations to meet area twice the size of Maryland specific limits on pollution where – since 2001. Industrialized corn necessary to restore a polluted water- production is highly dependent on way to health, requiring CAFOs that chemical fertilizers and pesticides, discharge to waterways to obtain and is the number one source of water pollution permits for their nitrogen pollution that fuels the operations, and ensuring that state growth of the dead zone in the governments properly implement the Gulf of Mexico. Clean Water Act. • Give environmental laws real teeth Federal and state governments by beefing up inspections and ensur- should take immediate steps to protect ing that repeated or serious viola- America’s waterways from pollution tions of water pollution laws are met from corporate agribusiness – and with real penalties, not slaps on the to restore our already-polluted wa- wrist. terways to health. Specifically, they should: • Ensure environmental transparency by giving citizens access to detailed • Ban the worst practices, including information about CAFOs and the creation of new CAFOs and other agribusiness facilities in their agricultural practices such as the communities, including information over-application of fertilizer that lead about discharges of pollution to the to pollution of waterways. environment. • Guarantee Clean Water Act protec- • Encourage better agricultural tion to all of America’s waterways. practices and consider systemic • Hold corporate agribusiness respon- reforms to ensure that American sible for its pollution by clarifying agriculture delivers safe, healthy food that corporations that own animals without destroying our waterways. Executive Summary 7 Introduction “Cultivators of the earth are the most been eclipsed by a few, large, often multi- national corporations in deciding how valuable citizens. They are the most America’s food will be produced. In towns vigorous, the most independent, the most where family farmers once gathered to make decisions that shaped the future of virtuous, and they are tied to their country their communities, today it is often the and wedded to its liberty and interests by case that the most important decisions are made in corporate boardrooms hun- the most lasting bonds.”1 dreds of miles away – or even on another – Thomas Jefferson continent. The shift to corporate agribusiness has done more than change the nature of “I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the American farming; it has also triggered an aristocracy of our moneyed corporations.”2 environmental crisis. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home sits near the Rivanna – Thomas Jefferson River, which flows into the James River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay – an important and once ecologically vital T he idea that American agriculture waterway that has been degraded over the would one day be dominated by course of decades by agricultural pollu- “moneyed corporations” would have tion, in particular waste from corporate been unthinkable to Thomas Jefferson chicken farming. The Chesapeake is not – the man who, more than any other alone – from the Gulf of Mexico to the American, defined the nation’s farmers as Great Lakes – and in countless lakes and the paragons of republican virtue. streams in between – pollution from agri- Over the last several decades, however, cultural activities is fueling algae blooms, Jefferson’s independent yet community- threatening wildlife and fouling drinking minded “cultivators of the earth” have water supplies. 8 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways That pollution is the result of an or rhapsodized about the republican agricultural system that increasingly virtues of the steel mill. Instead, we produces the nation’s meat on farms acted on the principle that no one – that pack thousands of animals onto especially not powerful, well-resourced small plots of land, producing waste corporations – has the right to pollute on the scale of entire cities and making our waterways with impunity and endan- pollution of nearby waterways a near- ger the public’s health and our natural certainty. It is a system that increasingly resources. We took action, and while the feeds those animals with corn planted in job of stopping industrial pollution is vast plots across the nation – corn that far from done, we’ve made tremendous requires pesticides and fertilizers, some progress. of which wash into our waterways, to Today, however, corporate agribusi- thrive. ness giants hide behind the wholesome It is also a system that is largely mold- image of the American family farmer ed to the design, and designed to the to evade responsibility for their pollu- benefit, of a few massive corporations, tion. Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, one in which family farmers still partici- Perdue, Tyson, Smithfield – these are pate, but in which they are increasingly among the corporations whose actions vulnerable and lack the independence have contributed to the devastation of that Jefferson once praised. American waterways. They are also Four decades ago, Americans were corporations with vast resources to confronted by an environmental crisis implement better, more sustainable ways of a similar scale – the massive water of producing America’s food. pollution problems caused by indus- The time has come to hold corporate trial dumping into our nation’s rivers, agribusiness accountable for its pollution streams and lakes. Those problems of our environment – just as Americans a were so intense that the Cuyahoga River generation ago did with industrial pol- caught fire and nearby Lake Erie was luters. It is up to Americans to insist on considered “dead.” better practices that repair the damage At the time, few Americans waxed already done, and eliminate the mas- poetic about the wholesomeness of the sive burden that agricultural pollution neighborhood sewage treatment plant, inflicts on our waterways. Introduction 9 Big Agribusiness: A Big Polluter of America’s Waterways F arming is not an inherently polluting waterways. From the dead zones in the activity. On the contrary, many farm- Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay ers take stewardship of the land and and Lake Erie to the pollution of count- the environment as a sacred trust. less local rivers, streams and lakes with However, as agriculture in America nutrients, fertilizers and pathogens, the has increasingly adopted the structures impact of agribusiness on the nation’s and methods of industrial production, waterways is severe. it has become a major polluter. In this According to the U.S. Environmental section, we review the data on pollu- Protection Agency (EPA), pollution from tion from agribusiness, document the agriculture contributes to poor water trend toward greater concentration in quality in more than 100,000 miles of industrial agribusiness, and show how rivers and streams in the United States, the shift to industrial agribusiness has along with 2,500 square miles of lakes magnified the environmental impact of and 2,900 square miles of estuaries. 4 food production. These waters are so polluted that they are unsafe for fishing, swimming, or the maintenance of healthy populations of wildlife. Agribusiness Is Polluting These figures greatly understate the America’s Waterways impact of agribusiness pollution on Corporate agribusiness 3 imposes a America’s waterways, since they include heavy – and growing – toll on America’s only waterways whose quality has been 10 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Photo: Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. assessed by state governments and those for which a cause of pollution was listed. Only 26.5 percent of America’s river and stream miles and 42 percent of our lakes by area have been fully assessed for their water quality.5 The problems extend to America’s coastal waters, where the number of documented areas of low dissolved oxy- gen – often called “dead zones” because oxygen levels are too low to support marine life – has increased from 12 in 1960 to 300 today. This includes the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, which covered a record area of roughly 8,000 square miles in 2008. The increase in Drainage ditches in the Midwest carry nutrient-laden water coastal dead zones has coincided with into larger rivers and ultimately major waterways such as the expansion of industrial agribusiness the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. in the United States.6 Typically, agricultural pollution finds its way into waterways through runoff from farm fields or discharges from sub- Whether in the form of manufactured surface tile drainage systems, which carry fertilizer or manure, nutrients can be pollution from farm fields into nearby washed off the land into surrounding wa- waterways. Animal waste from factory terways, where they can fuel the growth farms, for example, might be sprayed on of algae, depleting waterways of oxygen nearby fields and wash off into a nearby and sometimes triggering fish kills. At river, carrying bacteria and polluting the most extreme end of the scale, nu- nutrients with it. Or, pesticides applied to trient runoff can lead to the creation of fields might wash off into waterways and marine dead zones, as in the Chesapeake impact the plants, animals, and humans Bay, where a section of the bay becomes that use that water. oxygen deprived each summer as a result In addition, concentrated animal feed- of algae blooms. Certain nutrients, such ing operations (CAFOs) also have the as nitrates, can also render water unsafe potential to pollute via direct discharges to drink when they are present in high of manure from leaking, ruptured or enough concentrations. overflowing manure lagoons. Finally, Sediment: Sediment pollution results industrial facilities that process farm from overgrazing, certain tillage prac- outputs into consumer products – from tices, and from water management prac- slaughterhouses to ethanol plants – may tices that allow rainfall to run off land too also discharge pollutants into water- quickly, carrying valuable topsoil with it. ways. Washed into rivers and streams, soil can Major forms of agricultural pollution cloud the water and diminish the light include: received by aquatic plants. It also settles Nutrients: Industrial agribusiness in the stream, disrupting ecosystems by relies on heavy application of fertilizer filling in spawning grounds or otherwise containing nutrients such as nitrogen altering the streambed, and clogs the and phosphorus to promote crop growth. gills of fish and other aquatic animals. Big Agribusiness: A Big Polluter of America’s Waterways 11 Sediment also provides one vehicle for agribusiness make environmental impacts many other agricultural pollutants, em- far more likely through their reliance on bedded in particles of soil, to wash into chemical-dependent monoculture crops waterways.7 and concentrated animal feeding opera- Pathogens: Animal waste contains tions. bacteria and viruses that are harmful to Control of America’s system of food humans and animals. When animals are production has become increasingly kept in concentrated environments like concentrated in the hands of a few large CAFOs, large volumes of pathogen- corporations, which in turn have helped bearing waste are produced. These wastes reshape the way America produces food, can find their way into waterways through often to the detriment of our environ- accidental spills, ruptures or flooding of ment. manure storage lagoons, or runoff from the spraying of farm fields with liquid A Few Corporations Control manure. Pathogens can render water unsafe for human consumption or use, America’s Food System contaminate shellfishing areas, and con- Agribusiness firms have emerged as tribute to fish kills and other ecosystem among the nation’s richest and most damage.8 powerful corporations. Archer Daniels Pesticides: Chemicals applied to kill Midland ranks 27th on the Fortune 500 unwanted plants and animals on cropland list of largest U.S. companies, with $69 can wash into waterways, rendering that billion in annual revenue, followed by water unsafe for human consumption and Tyson Foods (84th), Smithfield Foods use and threatening aquatic plants and (163rd), ConAgra (178th) and Dean Foods animals. Pesticides can also contaminate (208th).9 Other agribusiness corporations fish and shellfish, rendering them unsafe would rank highly on the list if they were for human consumption. U.S.-based publicly traded companies. Cargill, for example, is privately held, but would rank in Fortune’s Top 20.10 The consolidation of agribusiness in Corporate Agribusiness as the United States has been dramatic. For an Environmental Threat example, the top four firms in each sector How did we get to the point where now slaughter 72 percent of the nation’s the production of our food became such beef and 63 percent of the nation’s pork, a threat to our water? while producing 57 percent of the na- The root of the problem is the indus- tion’s broiler chickens.12 Even agricultural trialization of agriculture in the United markets that had once been local or re- States, a development that has been ad- gional in scope are becoming increasingly vanced over the course of the last several consolidated. Fewer than 200 companies decades by major agribusiness corpora- now own 95 percent of the laying hens in tions. the United States, compared with 2,500 Practiced poorly, even traditional companies in 1987.13 forms of farming can create problems The same consolidation has taken for waterways, while there are ways to place among the companies that process minimize – and in some cases eliminate the nation’s grain harvest. As of 2002, – the threat of industrial agribusiness the four largest firms accounted for 54 operations to our water. But the meth- percent of the nation’s flour milling and ods of food production used in industrial 69 percent of wet corn milling.14 12 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Moreover, some companies – such as Figure 1. Share of Production by Four Largest Firms Tyson, Cargill and JBS – have established in Various Agricultural Sectors11 dominant positions in several sectors of the agricultural economy. Tyson, for Beef example, is one of the top five firms in 1982 2006 chicken, pork and beef production, and also mills its own grain to feed its poul- try. Cargill is known primarily for grain processing, but is also a major producer Top 4 firms of poultry, pork, eggs, oilseeds, sugar and biofuel. All others How Corporate Agribusiness Is Reshaping America’s Food Chicken System 1982 2006 Only a few of the firms mentioned above are directly engaged in raising crops or tending animals. So how are these companies contributing to the en- Top 4 firms vironmental crisis caused by agricultural All others water pollution? There are several tools major corpo- rations have used to reshape America’s agricultural system into one that is reliant on environmentally damaging factory farming and chemical-intensive produc- Milk tion of crops such as corn. 1982 2002 Vertical Integration Over time, some corporate agribusi- Top 4 firms ness firms have moved from acting as All others the middlemen between farmers and consumers to controlling larger shares of the process of producing, processing and distributing America’s food. In a few sectors – especially the chicken and pork industries –“vertically integrated” Pork corporate agribusiness firms now con- trol virtually the entire food production 1982 2006 process, from the genetic manipulation of seeds and livestock, through crop and livestock production, processing, and Top 4 firms marketing of final product to the con- All others sumer. One vertically integrated pork producer, Smithfield Foods, describes vertical integration as controlling the process “from squeal to meal.”15 Big Agribusiness: A Big Polluter of America’s Waterways 13 In the vertically integrated model, the The consolidation of agribusiness has only portion of the process that occurs reduced the number of potential buyers “out of house” is the raising of animals for certain products. In the dairy industry, from youth to slaughter. This happens for example, one firm, Dean Foods, has to be the part of the process with the emerged as a dominant player with 38 greatest potential environmental impacts. percent of the nation’s fluid milk mar- Nominally independent growers raise ket.16 In certain regional markets, the animals under contract with agribusi- company – along with the leading dairy ness corporations – contracts that typi- cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America cally contain strict conditions detailing (DFA) – controls an even greater share how the grower must raise and feed the of the market. animals. The “arm’s length” arrangement Farmers in several regions of the coun- between the grower and the corporation, try have alleged that large companies such however, means that while the corpora- as Dean and major cooperatives such as tion owns the animals, it can disclaim DFA have used their market power to responsibility for proper disposal of the control and manipulate the milk market, waste those animals produce, shifting that resulting in lower prices paid to farmers burden of environmental compliance to for their milk.17 Indeed, in 2008, DFA the growers. was forced to pay a $12 million penalty to The result is an arrangement that is settle allegations of market manipulation the best of both worlds for the integrated by the U.S. Justice Department.18 Farm- agribusiness firm. It can ensure the pro- ers in both the Northeast and Southeast duction of standardized, low-cost meat have filed class action lawsuits charging without bearing the risk of owning and efforts by Dean, DFA and others to ma- operating its own facilities. It can also nipulate milk markets.19 disclaim responsibility for the environ- What does market power have to do mental damage caused by the rearing with the environment? By driving down of its livestock. It is little surprise that the prices farmers receive, and leaving the model has come to dominate the farmers with few options for selling their chicken and pork industries – fueling the products, major agribusiness corporations proliferation of factory farms and their create economic conditions that make it associated environmental impacts – and nearly impossible for small, independent is making inroads in other sectors of operators to survive. Large, concentrated agribusiness. dairy operations have somewhat lower costs of operation – at least when the Market Power environmental and public health impacts Even in areas of agribusiness in which of their pollution are not included in the independent farmers still play an im- equation.20 But more importantly, they portant role, corporate agribusiness are likelier to have the financial resources giants can attain enough market power and access to capital that would enable to effectively dictate the prices farmers them to survive a brief but sharp decline receive for their goods. “Monopsony” in commodity prices, such as the steep and “oligopsony” are the economic terms drop in milk prices that occurred during for a situation in which only one or a few 2009. As a result, small, family operations potential buyers exist for a given product, are replaced over time with massive fac- giving those buyers the ability to dictate tory farms with outsized environmental the price a seller may receive. impacts. 14 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Public Policy Changes manufactured fertilizers (and subsidized Agribusiness corporations also reshape by taxpayers). The manure from these the food system through their influence animals is often stored in open-air la- over public policy. Major corporations goons and later spread on land, nominally have multiple avenues – including cam- as fertilizer. However, over-spreading paign contributions, lobbying expendi- of manure is common – and in some tures, and personal relationships with places, given the vast volume of manure policy-makers – to influence public produced in particular watersheds, in- policy. Through public policy, agribusi- evitable – resulting in manure washing ness firms can create markets for their into waterways, bringing nutrients and products, gain public subsidies, or evade pathogens with it. environmental responsibility – all of At the other end of the cycle, the con- which shift the balance of what crops are version of vast areas of land to corn or soy produced and how, leading to environ- production – both for the production of mental impacts. animal feed and other products – requires the input of large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which also can Concentrated Farms Lead to find their way into waterways. Concentrated Environmental The transition from small farms to Impacts CAFOs has occurred with lightning In rural areas of America, homeown- speed. Between 1987 and 2007, for ex- ers typically dispose of household sewage ample, the United States lost more than in septic tanks. This system works only half of its dairy farms and nearly 70 per- because population density is low. But the cent of its pig farms, with an increasing same system that works well, for example, share of production taking place on the in rural upstate New York would be an very largest farms – often CAFOs with environmental and public health disaster hundreds to thousands of animals at a if it were applied in New York City. single site.21 In 1987, it took more than The same thing is true of waste from 16,000 hog and pig farms to produce half animals. In the past, most animal farming of the nation’s sales. By 2007, the same was widely dispersed across the landscape, share of sales was produced by just over mitigating the impact of manure on wa- 1,700 farms.22 terways and providing a helpful source In the dairy industry, the number of of fertilizer to farmers. The transition farms with 50 or fewer milk cows fell from to corporate agribusiness, however, has more than 104,000 in 1992 to just under helped bring about a wholesale shift 34,000 in 2007 – a decline of roughly toward concentrated animal feeding op- two-thirds. Over roughly the same period erations (CAFOs), which produce vast (1993 to 2008), the share of the nation’s amounts of nutrient and bacteria-laden milk cows in herds of 200 cows or greater manure – sometimes in volumes that ap- more than doubled, from 31 percent to 67 proach the sewage production of small percent.23 (See Figure 2, next page) cities – on small plots of land. Concentrated animal feeding opera- tions confine hundreds to thousands of animals in small areas, where they are largely fed on commodity grain produced far away, usually grown with the aid of Big Agribusiness: A Big Polluter of America’s Waterways 15 Vertical integration has also magnified the impact of the trend toward larger farms by Between 1987 and 2007, the encouraging the tendency of certain types of United States lost more than half agricultural production to cluster together in compact regions of the country. of its dairy farms and nearly 70 The propensity of similar industries to percent of its pig farms. cluster in a small area has existed for cen- turies, from the steel mills of Pittsburgh to the auto manufacturers of Detroit to the high-tech businesses of Silicon Valley. By Figure 2. Share of the Nation’s Milk clustering together, industrial producers Cows by Herd Size24 share access to support services and a trained labor force. The industrialization of agribusiness leads 1993 Under 30 head to similar concentrations.25 The eastern 5% shore of Maryland and northwest Arkansas 30-49 head 15% are to chickens what Iowa is to corn, which is what eastern North Carolina is to pork. 200+ head These areas not only have lots of farms, 31% but they also possess the slaughterhouses, grain mills and other forms of infrastructure that make factory farming possible. Unfor- tunately, these concentrations also further 50-99 head magnify the environmental impact of fac- 100-199 head 19% 30% tory farming on local waterways. Specialization of farming in a particular area also undermines the potential benefits of diversified farms. On a traditional, diver- 2008 sified farm, the waste created on one part Under 30 head 2% of the farm is used as a productive input on 30-49 head another – for example, the manure from a 5% 50-99 head pig might be used to fertilize a crop, the 13% inedible waste from which would then be fed back to the pig. Industrialized farming, by contrast, relies on artificial fertilizer to 200+ head 68% 100-199 head produce grain in large monocultures, which 12% are then fed to animals at CAFOs, which then produce manure which is often overap- plied to nearby farm fields – a process that creates the potential for large-scale pollu- tion at several points in the process. As the stories in the next section describe, the shift toward industrial agribusiness has too often resulted in the degradation of critical waterways that Americans depend on for recreation, drinking water, and the preservation of healthy populations of wildlife. 16 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways Big Chicken: Perdue, contracts with those growers that give Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride and the companies great control over their the Fouling of Treasured farmers’ operations. Those contracts typically leave small, American Waterways undercapitalized growers – rather than The chicken industry is an example mighty corporations such as Tyson, of the consolidation of the agribusiness Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride – with the industry and its impacts on the environ- responsibility for properly disposing of ment. animal waste. Growers, however, have Control of the chicken industry is little opportunity to negotiate better highly concentrated among a few mas- terms for their work, since growers in a sive corporations – four firms produce particular area who choose not to con- 57 percent of the chicken that finds its tract with a major agribusiness firm may way to American tables.26 It is vertically have few other options for marketing integrated, with firms such as Tyson their product. and Perdue controlling virtually every Over the past half-century, chicken aspect of the production process – hatch- farming has become increasingly con- ing chicks, operating feed mills, and centrated in large operations, clustered slaughtering, processing, and distribut- in small areas of the country. Whereas ing the final product. While the chicken in the middle of the last century, chicken growers who raise chicks to adulthood farms dotted the Midwest and existed up are nominally independent, firms such and down the Northeast coast, today, the as Tyson and Perdue sign restrictive production of chickens for meat (as op- Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 17 Figure 3. Chickens Sold by County, 1949 and 200727 posed to for eggs) is highly concentrated in the southeastern United States and 1949 1 dot=100,000 chickens Chesapeake Bay region. (See Figure 3.) Raising large numbers of chickens in a small geographic area concentrates the production of “chicken litter” – phosphorus-laden manure mixed with sawdust or other bedding material. When the amount of chicken litter exceeds the amount that can be beneficially applied to crops in a particular region, the result is often pollution of local waterways. The Chesapeake Bay, the Illinois River in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and Lake o’ the Pines in Texas are three examples of American waterways that have been severely damaged by pollution from chicken farming conducted by corporate agribusiness. 0 200 Miles Number of Broilers and 200 Other Meat-Type Chickens Sold: 2007 les 2007 1 dot = Number of Broilers and1 million chickens Other Meat-Type Chickens Sold: 2007 Perdue and the Chesapeake Bay Perdue is the third largest producer of chickens in the nation, with annual sales of $4.6 billion.28 Through its vertically integrated system, Perdue produced and processed more than 600 million chickens in 2007.29 Based in Salisbury, Maryland, Perdue is one of several large chicken producers 2007 Census of Agriculture 1 Dot = 1,000,000 Broilers with major operations on the Delmarva Peninsula on the eastern shore of Chesa- peake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is one 1 Dot = 1,000,000 Broilers 0 100 0 100 Miles United States Total of America’s most storied waterways. As the nation’s largest estuary, and one 8,914,828,122 07-M161 Miles 0 100 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service United States Total 100 Miles 07-M161 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service Miles 8,914,828,122 of the most productive estuaries in the world, the Chesapeake is an important natural resource, serving as a home for more than 3,600 species of plants and animals, as well as a cornerstone of both the mid-Atlantic economy and the re- gion’s culture.30 For decades, however, the bay has been under threat. As long ago as 1983, a congressionally mandated report found that the bay suffered from nutrient pol- lution, a decline in seagrasses, pollution 18 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways from toxic chemicals, and overfishing.31 monia, which can fall into rivers and the While the problems facing the Chesa- bay with the rain. peake are complex, many of them can Nutrients such as phosphorus and be traced back to agricultural activities nitrogen fuel the growth of algae in the – particularly chicken farming – in the water, triggering algae “blooms” that bay’s vast watershed. flourish briefly and then die, consuming Chicken manure contains phos- oxygen as they decay. As a result, levels of phorus, nitrogen and other chemicals, dissolved oxygen in the water drop below such as arsenic (which is an additive in the concentration needed to support fish, some chicken feed).32 During its 47-day crabs and oysters. Animals that are able lifespan, a typical chicken being raised as to flee leave these areas of low dissolved a broiler produces 2 pounds of chicken oxygen; those who can’t escape suffer litter (manure mixed with sawdust and through the stress of inadequate oxygen, bedding material).33 The 568 million making them more prone to disease, or chickens produced by all chicken com- may suffocate if oxygen levels fall too low panies on the Delmarva Peninsula thus (hence the name “dead zone”). generate an estimated 1.1 billion pounds The chicken industry is a prime con- of chicken litter each year.34 tributor to pollution of the bay. Accord- Pollution from chicken litter can ing to the Chesapeake Bay Program, a find its way into the Chesapeake Bay in state and federal joint effort to study the a number of ways. Manure that is left bay, 26 percent of phosphorus pollution in uncovered piles can be washed into and 17 percent of nitrogen pollution in nearby waterways in a heavy rain.35 In the bay comes from excessive animal addition, the chicken litter that is pro- waste in agricultural areas.39 Another 19 duced in great volumes at poultry farms percent of phosphorus pollution and 15 is typically disposed of by spreading it percent of nitrogen pollution comes from on nearby crops as fertilizer.36 Unfor- chemical fertilizers applied to cropland. tunately, however, over-application of Because the majority of the grain pro- chicken litter to farm fields can result duced on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is in the fields becoming over-saturated sold for chicken feed, some of this chemi- with phosphorus, resulting in the runoff cal fertilizer pollution can be attributed of phosphorus to nearby waterways and to chicken production.40 eventually the bay. The result of this pollution is seri- The 1.1 billion pounds of chicken ous degradation to the Chesapeake Bay litter the industry produces each year ecosystem. From 2007 to 2009, only would, if spread evenly on the 8.5 mil- 12 percent of the Chesapeake Bay had lion acres of agricultural land in the sufficient levels of dissolved oxygen in bay watershed, represent 129 pounds the summer.41 (See Figure 4, next page.) of litter per acre. 37 The amount of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric phosphorus in chicken litter generated Administration (NOAA) describes the in four counties on Maryland’s Eastern Chesapeake Bay as “highly eutrophic,” Shore, for example, far exceeds the meaning that it is highly susceptible to amount that can be used by crops in nutrient-fueled algae blooms that deprive those counties.38 the waterway of oxygen.42 Nutrient pollution can even reach the bay via the air. Animal waste such as poultry manure produces airborne emissions of nitrogen-containing am- Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 19 Figure 4. Most of the Chesapeake Bay Fails to Meet plenish dissolved oxygen levels as they Dissolved Oxygen Goals in the Summer43 photosynthesize. In 2009, 86,000 acres in the bay were covered with grass, less than half the amount of grass needed for a healthy bay.44 Years of summertime dead zones, overfishing, and the death of submerged aquatic vegetation have taken their toll on the bay’s aquatic animals. Popula- tions of rockfish, or striped bass, have dropped so much that Maryland and Virginia both imposed moratoria on the fishery in the late 1980s. The moratoria have since been lifted, but catch levels remain low. Oyster and soft shell clam populations have declined to a fraction of their historic levels, while the federal government officially declared the blue crab fishery a disaster in 2009, granting emergency aid to the industry.45 Despite the clear problem of exces- sive chicken litter in the bay watershed and the consequences of this for fish, shellfish and the bay’s ecosystem, Per- due denies responsibility for the waste produced by its chickens, grown by farmers working under strict contract with the company. 46 However, in a preliminary ruling in a lawsuit naming both Perdue and a contract farmer for allowing manure to pollute a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, a judge agreed to keep Perdue as a defendant, poten- In addition to consuming oxygen tially responsible for the pollution.47 in the water and creating dead zones, The Clean Water Act, under which algae blooms can block sunlight that the lawsuit was filed, applies to owners aquatic grasses need to survive. With- or operators of facilities that discharge out sunlight, the grasses die, triggering or propose to discharge to waterways, other problems for the Bay’s ecosys- with the definition of “owner or opera- tem. Roots of grasses are no longer tor” applying to “any person who owns, available to hold sediment in place, leases, operates, controls, or supervises increasing the risk that oysters will a source [of pollution].”48 be buried in silt. Blue crabs and fish Holding Perdue and other chicken such as menhaden, herring, shad, and producers in the Chesapeake Bay re- white perch lose hiding places and a gion accountable for their pollution is place to shelter their young. And the the first step toward cleaning it up, and grasses are no longer available to re- restoring the bay to health. 20 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Tyson and the Illinois River of chicken – 41 million chickens a week, or Arkansas and Oklahoma 2 billion per year – as well as 22 percent of its beef and 18 percent of its pork.55 The Illinois River begins in northwest- Tyson feeds its chickens an estimated 23 ern Arkansas before traveling through billion pounds of feed each year, most of eastern Oklahoma and eventually feed- it corn and soybean meal.56 ing the Arkansas River. Designated by Many of the region’s chicken farms are the state of Oklahoma as a scenic river, located near Tyson’s Arkansas headquar- the Illinois River is an important recre- ters. Indeed, four counties in northwest ational resource for the region – each Arkansas produce 315 million broilers year, an estimated 180,000 people canoe, under contract per year, more than are kayak or raft on the river, while another produced annually in all but six states.57 350,000 engage in other forms of outdoor The massive concentration of chicken recreation.49 production in a small area imposes a In recent years, however, water quality heavy toll on the environment, particu- has declined along the Illinois River and larly water quality. in Tenkiller Lake, a reservoir that is fed Water quality problems abound in by the river. Decreased water clarity, algae Tyson Country. In eastern Oklahoma, blooms and instances of low dissolved nutrient pollution of the Illinois River be- oxygen have become more frequent.50 came so bad that the Oklahoma Attorney Portions of the Illinois River and several General’s office filed suit against Tyson tributaries are so polluted with pathogens Foods and other chicken processors to from animal feeding operations and other reduce the over-application of poultry sources that they are no longer safe for litter in the region.58 Not far away, simi- swimming.51 There is even evidence that the number of people who float the river Photo: Aaron Latty has declined.52 The Illinois River and other rivers in eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas are in trouble largely because of nutrient pollution from the area’s thousands of chicken farms. The Illinois River watershed includes 2,300 poultry farms in Arkansas and another 500 in Oklahoma.53 Oklahoma’s Attorney Gen- eral estimates that the waste produced by chickens in the Illinois River watershed is equal to that which would be produced by 10.7 million people – more than the combined human population of the en- tire states of Oklahoma and Arkansas. 54 Unlike human waste, however, it receives no treatment. While several chicken producers operate in the region, the industry is The scenic Illinois River flows through Arkansas and dominated by Springdale, Arkansas-based Oklahoma. It is one of many waterways in the region Tyson Foods. Tyson Foods and its subsid- that are adversely affected by pollution from the region’s iaries produce 20 percent of the nation’s thousands of chicken farms. Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 21 lar water quality problems have affected basin – which drains the poultry-intensive Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees. The lake areas of northwestern Arkansas, southern is an important recreational resource, at- Missouri and Oklahoma – is responsible tracting boaters, jet skiers, fishing enthu- for 4.3 percent of the phosphorus pollu- siasts and families seeking to take a break tion reaching the Gulf of Mexico from from mid-summer heat. The lake had the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, once been known for its high water qual- and is the fastest-growing source of phos- ity, but since the 1980s, Grand Lake has phorus to the gulf.61 As a result, pollution experienced algae blooms, which deprive from Tyson and other chicken producers the lake of oxygen needed to support contributes to ecological problems in the healthy populations of fish and maintain Gulf of Mexico. a balanced ecosystem. Parts of the lake The fate of the Illinois River will be itself – and many of its tributaries – are a telling indicator of the future of wa- considered “impaired” for aquatic life due terways nationwide affected by chicken to low levels of dissolved oxygen.193 waste. Oklahoma’s lawsuit against chicken Chicken manure is a big contributor processors in the region is now pending to the water quality problems at Grand in federal court. Lake. In 2004, the state of Oklahoma However, the chicken industry has estimated that nearly 19,000 tons of already won one round of the fight. chicken litter is applied to land in the Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Ed- watershed each year, with roughly 27 mondson, who filed the lawsuit to protect percent of those applications exceed- the Illinois River, was recently upset in his ing the amount of phosphorus that the bid for the Democratic nomination for land can safely absorb.59 Chicken litter governor. His opponent won narrowly spread just in the Oklahoma part of the after receiving more than $20,000 in watershed is suspected of supplying as last-minute donations from executives at much as 189,000 pounds of phosphorus Tyson Foods and other regional poultry each year to the waterways of the Grand producers.62 Lake watershed. Tyson was also linked to the pollution of Oklahoma’s Lake Eucha and Lake Pilgrim’s Pride (JBS) and Texas’ Spavinaw – the sources of drinking wa- Lake o’ the Pines ter for the city of Tulsa. Pollution from Lake o’ the Pines is located in the poultry waste in those watersheds had northeast corner of Texas, about 15 become so severe that it had spawned miles northwest of Marshall and about algae growth in the lakes, leading to taste 20 northeast of Longview. The lake pro- and odor problems in drinking water and vides many opportunities for recreation, forcing the city of Tulsa to upgrade its with camping, boating, hunting, fishing treatment methods at public expense. A and bird watching, including the ability 2003 settlement in Tulsa’s lawsuit against to see wintering bald eagles.63 The lake Tyson and other chicken producers re- also provides drinking water for a num- quired the companies to transport some ber of northeast Texas cities including chicken waste out of the watershed, a Longview.64 move that has reduced phosphorus load- However, the lake has been plagued ing to the lakes.60 with pollution for at least a decade. Ac- Pollution from chicken waste fouls cording to the Texas Commission on local waterways, but it also has more Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the lake far-reaching effects. The Arkansas River suffers from excess nutrient input which 22 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways contributes to “turbid water, episodes protection in 2008. In 2009, the Brazilian of low dissolved oxygen concentration, company JBS purchased a majority share floating algal blooms, taste and odor of Pilgrim’s Pride, adding to its string of problems [and] fish kills.” 65 In 2002, recent acquisitions in the United States. pollution led to the deaths of more than (For more on JBS, see page 29.) 9,000 fish.66 During the summer of 2010, For decades, Pilgrim’s Pride has re- high levels of E. coli – bacteria linked to peatedly and egregiously violated its animal and human fecal matter – led to water quality permits, polluting local beach closures on the lake, costing area waterways. 73 It was also in 2007 the business thousands in lost revenue from largest discharger of toxic substances to recreational visitors to the lake during the Texas waterways, releasing more than 1.5 4th of July weekend.67 million pounds of toxic pollution into Chicken farming is a big business in Tankersley Creek.74 the Cypress Creek watershed that con- The company’s recent environmen- tains Lake o’ the Pines. An estimated tal performance suggests that little has 99 million chickens are produced in the changed. Over the last three years, the region annually – one out of every four company has frequently exceeded its produced in Texas.68 The vast majority of limits for permitted releases of ammonia, the chicken litter produced in the water- and is listed by the U.S. EPA as having shed – approximately 229 million tons per been in non-compliance with Clean year, is spread on farm fields in the region, Water Act requirements every quarter at rates of one to five tons per acre.69 from the third quarter of 2007 to the first Lake o’ the Pines is also affected by quarter of 2010.75 In 2010, the TCEQ discharges of nutrients from industrial fined Pilgrim’s Pride $43,700 for a string facilities, the largest of which is the Pil- of violations of clean water laws.76 grim’s Pride chicken processing facility, which discharges into Tankersley Creek, a tributary of Lake o’ the Pines. The The Hog Bosses: TCEQ identifies the facility as the source Smithfield, Cargill and the of “88 percent of the total phosphorus and 73 percent of the total nitrogen Environmental Toll of Pork contributed from permitted dischargers Production in the watershed.”70 Indeed, the Pilgrim’s The pork industry, like the chicken Pride facility is estimated to contribute industry, has become highly consolidated more total nitrogen to Lake o’ the Pines and increasingly vertically integrated, than the millions of pounds of chicken with just a few large firms dominating litter spread on local farm fields.71 the industry. The shift to more intensive With net sales totaling $7.1 billion in methods of pork production has also left 2009, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation is one a legacy of pollution stretching from the of the largest chicken companies in the ecologically important estuaries of North United States and Mexico and is ranked Carolina to the rivers of the Midwest. 317th on the Fortune 500 list of largest Pork production has historically been U.S. corporations.72 The company has centered in America’s Corn Belt – par- been part of the consolidation of the ticularly Iowa. In recent years, however chicken industry, purchasing rival brand North Carolina has emerged as a major Gold Kist in 2007. However, debt load pork producing region, with the number from the Gold Kist acquisition resulted of hogs and pigs in the state doubling in Pilgrim’s Pride filing for bankruptcy between 1987 and 1992 and doubling Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 23 Figure 5. Increase in Share of Hogs and Pigs on Large Farms80 80 70 60 Hogs and Pigs (millions) 50 40 Farms<5,000+ head Farms> 5,000+ head 30 20 40.8 31.7 24.6 10 9.8 0 4.2 1987 1992 1997 2002 2007 again – to more than 10 million – by some of the nation’s most important and 2007.77 In addition, there has been a na- productive coastal estuaries. tionwide shift toward larger hog farms. In Recently, however, the Neuse has be- 1987, less than 10 percent of the nation’s come better known for the degradation hogs and pigs were raised on very large it has experienced as a result of runoff farms of 5,000 animals or more. By 2007, from eastern North Carolina’s many more than 60 percent of America’s hogs concentrated animal feeding operations. and pigs were raised on these very large The group American Rivers has listed farms.78 Over that span of time, the num- the Neuse as among the nation’s 10 most ber of hogs and pigs raised on the very endangered rivers in 1995, 1996, 1997 largest farms increased nearly 10-fold, and 2007.81 from 4.2 million to 40.8 million.79 The Neuse has been the site of several Cargill and Smithfield Foods are two of massive fish kills. The largest to date oc- the nation’s largest pork producers. Each curred in 1995, when more than 1 billion company has a legacy of water pollution fish in the Neuse died. Scientists traced from its pork production operations. the cause to a toxic organism called pfies- teria.82 A reporter at the Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier wrote that the microor- Smithfield Foods and the Neuse ganism “drugs schools of fish and sucks River off their skin, sometimes leaving behind The Neuse River traverses 248 miles millions of carcasses with blood-red on its way from central North Carolina sores and holes the size of half dollars.”83 to Pamlico Sound. The Neuse is not only Studying the organism, Dr. JoAnn Burk- an important ecological and recreational holder, director of the Center for Applied resource in its own right, but it also feeds Aquatic Ecology at North Carolina State 24 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways University, found that it tended to thrive Those 10 million hogs generate as in nutrient-loaded waterways, polluted by much fecal waste as 100 million humans92 sewage or runoff, “especially runoff from – or roughly the entire human popula- the state’s massive hog farms,” as noted tion of the United States west of the by the Post and Courier. She told the pa- Mississippi River. Typically, Smithfield’s per that “pfiesteria has always been here, hog farming subsidiaries or contract hog but we’ve been adding tons of nutrients growers collect hog manure and urine to our estuaries, and we’ve slowly tipped from the confinement building and store things in favor of it. Pfiesteria is a sign of it in a nearby open-air lagoon. The com- an estuary that’s out of balance.”84 panies then spray nearby fields with liquid Fish kills slowed during the years of waste, nominally as fertilizer. drought in the early 2000s, but picked up again in years with heavy rains. The latest fish kill happened in August 2009, when the Neuse Riverkeeper estimated Photo: Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, www.sraproject.org. that 100 million fish died.85 The fish kill was concentrated in the brackish waters in the lower Neuse estuary, which the state’s Department of Natural Resources rates as having impaired water quality.86 Water quality in the Neuse declined severely following the boom in hog farms in the region. In the 1980s and 1990s, Smithfield Foods – the world’s largest producer of pork – began a strategy of consolidation and vertical integration in the hog industry, acquiring competing slaughterhouses and buying hog farms, or entering into restrictive contracts with growers.87 Through the strategy, Smithfield endeavored to control the production process from “squeal to meal” Smithfield Foods disposes of hog waste by spraying the untreated, – or from birth to marketing of the final liquid manure on fields using a manure spraying system like that product.88 pictured here. Vertical integration dramatically in- creased Smithfield’s presence in North Carolina. Today, Smithfield is the leading However, the excessive spraying of owner of hogs in the state’s coastal plain, waste disrupts the nutrient balance in which is home to about 2,500 hog con- the watershed. Application of liquid hog finement buildings containing 10 million manure to nearby fields tends to exceed animals – a five-fold increase since the the ability of the land to safely absorb all 1980s.89 The Neuse River watershed itself of the nutrients. Moreover, cattle graze contains more than 450 confined hog on the Bermuda grass grown on many feeding warehouses holding more than 3 sprayfields, effectively re-depositing the million hogs.90 Just south of the watershed, nutrients from the hog waste as manure Smithfield processes hogs at the world’s and urine, instead of removing it from largest pork slaughterhouse, opened in the system.93 After storms, these excess 1992 in the town of Tar Heel.91 nutrients run off of the sprayfield, con- Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 25 taminating groundwater and increasing the most likely source. Lagoon and nutrient levels in surface waterways.94 sprayfield waste disposal systems add Smithfield-style concentrated hog ammonia to both land and the air, warehouses are perpetuating nutrient where it can be washed into the river overloading in the Neuse River wa- during storms. tershed. In 2006, Dr. Burkholder and • Dissolved oxygen levels decreased by a group of her colleagues published a 9 percent in the total water column – study of nutrient loading in the Neuse and decreased by close to 20 percent River estuary from 1993 to 2005. They in the deepest waters. This is indica- found that: tive of nutrient-driven overgrowth • Confined hog feeding warehouses of algae and plants, which consume produce more than half of all oxygen when they decompose, estimated phosphorus loading in the reducing the ability of the water watershed, and more than a third of to support a healthy and diverse all nitrogen loading.95 community of wildlife.96 • The river was in a “eutrophic” In response to the problems caused (nutrient-overloaded) state, with by Smithfield’s hog manure lagoons and periodic bursts of activity by algae sprayfields, in 1997 the North Carolina and other microorganisms stimulated General Assembly imposed a moratorium to grow in “blooms” by excess levels on the construction of new sprayfields, or of nutrients carried into the river by the construction or expansion of new hog rainfall. confinement warehouses larger than 250 • Ammonia loading increased by 500 animals.97 The moratorium contained percent over the study period. The loopholes, however, which enabled hog scientists suspected hog operations as farmers to add half a million animals, building 73 new hog farms and expanding 25 in the decade after the moratorium Photo: Bob Nichols, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service was passed.98 To protect its operations in North Carolina, in 2000 Smithfield entered into a voluntary agreement with the state’s attorney general to fund a $15 million research project into better methods of waste disposal and to implement any methods found to be both environmen- tally advantageous and cost effective. In its 2010 regulatory filings, the company notes that “none of the tech- nologies evaluated under the Agreement were found to be economically feasible for existing farms” and that it plans to continue using the lagoon and sprayfield waste disposal system in the state.99 This is despite the fact that North Carolina Waste from North Carolina’s hog farms is typically stored in is offering (through 2011) to cover 90 liquid manure lagoons. percent of the cost of a new system, up 26 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Photo: Tom Winkle to $500,000, for each farm that commits to installing better waste treatment.100 In 2008, the state made the moratorium on new lagoon and sprayfield systems per- manent. Smithfield Foods noted in 2010 that “the moratorium limits us from ex- panding our North Carolina production operations.”101 While the moratorium will help to keep the problem from get- ting worse, the challenge of managing Smithfield’s huge impact on water qual- ity in the Neuse River watershed and other key waterways in North Carolina remains. Cargill and the Illinois River of Illinois The Illinois River is a leading contributor of nutrient pollution to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The Illinois River in Illinois (not to be confused with the Illinois River in Arkansas and Oklahoma, see page 21) flows more than 270 miles from the phosphorus to the Gulf of Mexico via northeastern corner of the state to the the Mississippi River, with the Illinois Mississippi River, draining more than River serving as a main carrier of that 40 percent of the state’s agricultural land pollution.104 and acting as the navigational connection There is no one company or activity between Lake Michigan and the Missis- that is solely responsible for the pollution sippi River. of the Illinois River. Scientists believe The Illinois River exemplifies many that the major source of nitrogen to of the water quality problems imposed the Illinois River is drainage from row by large-scale corporate agriculture. For crops such as corn and soybeans, with generations, sediment from farm fields discharges from sewage treatment plants has choked the Illinois River. Peoria also a significant contributor.105 However, Lake – a broadening of the Illinois River given the decades of warnings about the adjacent to the city of the same name – polluted condition of the Illinois River has lost 68 percent of its volume since and other waterways in the state, the 1903.102 A comprehensive study by the first step would appear to be to not make U.S. Geological Survey in the late 1990s matters worse. found that the lower Illinois River basin Yet, an increase in pollution is exactly had among the highest concentrations of what has happened at a pork slaugh- nutrients in the United States, including terhouse run by Cargill, Inc. along the levels of nitrate in some locations that Illinois River, while the company’s plans exceeded public health standards for to expand its hog-farming operations in drinking water.103 Illinois could result in additional dam- The massive flow of nutrients into age. the Illinois River also has impacts far Cargill has been, along with ADM (see downstream. The state of Illinois is the page 33), a major player in the develop- leading contributor of both nitrogen and ment of the modern corn economy that Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 27 has contributed to nutrient pollution of the plant have increased tenfold since the Illinois River and other American 1998, and have totaled more than 3 mil- waterways. As of the late 1990s, Car- lion pounds per year since 2005.114 gill was the second-largest producer of The Beardstown pork processing high-fructose corn syrup, trailing only plant isn’t the only Cargill facility that ADM.106 The company also owns two has polluted waterways. Indeed, the ethanol production plants, in Iowa and Beardstown plant is one of three Car- Nebraska.107 gill facilities to rank among the nation’s Cargill’s activities reach into many top 20 industrial dischargers of toxic sectors of the agricultural economy. substances to rivers, streams, lakes and The company produces, processes and coastal waters in 2008.115 In July 2000, a markets beef, poultry, eggs, oilseeds, Cargill Pork factory in Missouri (which sugar and many other food ingredients. has since been closed) dumped untreated It produces salt and steel and even has hog waste into the Loutre River, killing a financial services branch engaging in more than 50,000 fish along a five-mile futures trading and risk management.108 stretch.116 The company agreed to pay a For most of the last decade, Forbes $1 million fine for the incident, and one magazine has ranked Cargill as the larg- of its employees was sentenced to five est privately held company in America, months in jail.117 rivaled only by Koch Industries.109 If About a quarter of the hogs processed Cargill were publicly owned, it would at the Beardstown plant, along with rank in the top 20 of the Fortune 500. In Cargill’s other major slaughterhouse in 2009, the company brought in more than Ottumwa, Iowa, are raised by farmers $110 billion in sales, earning a profit of under contract with Cargill.118 This ver- more than $3 billion.110 tical integration arrangement is similar In Illinois, Cargill Meat Solutions’ to that employed by Tyson and Perdue Beardstown facility, which discharges in the chicken industry and Smithfield into the Illinois River, has the capacity Foods in the pork industry. to slaughter up to 18,000 head of pigs In recent years, Cargill has sought per day.111 It is also, according to the to expand its contract hog farming op- U.S. EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, the erations in Illinois and other Midwest- second-largest industrial discharger of ern states. According to one published toxic chemicals to waterways in the state account, the company sought to add as of Illinois and 13th largest industrial many as 30 hog farms in western Illinois, discharger in the United States, dump- northern Missouri and southern Iowa – a ing more than 3 million pounds of toxic move that would both extend the com- chemicals into the Illinois River during pany’s control of the supply chain and 2008.112 reduce transportation costs.119 Virtually all of the plant’s toxic releases Illinois’ lax laws governing the es- were in the form of nitrates, which are tablishment and regulation of CAFOs produced when wastewater contaminated are making the company’s job easier. In with blood or other slaughterhouse waste 2009, for example, a new contract hog is discharged into waterways.113 Nitrate farm opened in Sangamon County, Illi- releases not only have the potential to nois, with a capacity to house more than foul drinking water supplies, but also add 3,700 hogs. Neighbors of the facility filed to the problem of nutrient pollution in a lawsuit seeking to block the facility. the Illinois and Mississippi rivers and the However, the farm’s owner successfully Gulf of Mexico. Nitrate discharges from argued that Illinois law allowed him to 28 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Photo: bluebird13, istockphoto.com proceed with construction without even a public hearing by claiming that the mas- sive new facility was just an “expansion” of his previous 40-cow dairy farm.120 Pork CAFOs, like other concentrated animal feeding operations, have a long history of non-compliance with clean water laws. A survey by the Illinois EPA found that 58 percent of swine CAFOs surveyed had at least one regulatory viola- tion in 2009.121 Continued expansion of concentrated hog farming operations in Illinois by Cargill and other firms – coupled with rising pollution from hog processing facilities – threatens to exacerbate the Waste from slaughterhouse operations can be responsible for nutrient pollution problems already significant water pollution problems, including the routine faced by the Illinois River and waterways discharge of nitrates and ammonia into rivers and streams. downstream. Beef Factories: Pollution gration by owning some cattle themselves or contracting with cattle producers. from JBS and Cargill The four largest packers now obtain 40 Processing Plants percent of their cattle through arrange- Unlike the production of chicken or ments other than the wholesale market, pork, where individual firms control the compared with 20 percent in 1986.123 entire production process from an ani- By owning or contracting for their own mal’s birth through its appearance in the cattle, packers have the ability to exert supermarket, the beef industry has long greater control over the marketplace and avoided vertical integration. Historically, possibly to manipulate markets. independent ranchers have been respon- Cattle ranching and feedlot operations sible for breeding cattle and raising them have the potential to contribute to water to adolescence, at which time they are pollution. But the most direct way to see sold to feedlots – often large, factory- the impact of large agribusiness firms is scale operations similar to other factory to review the track record of water pollu- farms. At the feedlot, cattle are “finished” tion at beef slaughterhouses and packing to slaughter weight by feeding them a diet plants. of grain, and are then sold to beef packers, who slaughter the animals and process JBS and Pennsylvania’s them for sale to consumers. Packers have long been the most pow- Skippack Creek erful players in the beef market, and their Located northwest of Philadelphia, power has grown in recent years. Today, Skippack Creek feeds the Perkiomen four companies slaughter 72 percent of River, an important natural resource that the nation’s beef, compared with 30 per- provides drinking water and recreational cent in the 1960s.122 Beef packers have opportunities for the regional population. also taken the first steps into vertical inte- Skippack Creek flows into the Perkiomen Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 29 just three miles above its junction with 30,000 cattle, nearly 50,000 hogs, more the larger Schuylkill River – a source of than 7 million birds, and more than 4,000 drinking water for more than 1.7 million sheep into meat products every day.132 people.124 As JBS has snatched up agribusiness Along the banks of Skippack Creek companies in the United States, it has also lies a slaughterhouse now owned by the inherited a legacy of water pollution left Brazilian firm, JBS, which processes behind by those companies. The pollution about 2,000 cattle a day, producing 180 of Skippack Creek caused by the former million pounds of boxed beef and 17 mil- Moyer packinghouse is just one example. lion pounds of ground beef per year.125 According to a complaint filed by the The plant also renders leftover slaughter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency waste, including animal fat, bone and and the Pennsylvania Department of Envi- blood, along with kitchen grease from ronmental Protection against JBS in 2008, area restaurants, to create raw materi- the plant used outdated equipment and als for manufacturing other products, regularly discharged water pollution into including animal feed.126 the Skippack Creek in excess of permitted For decades, the plant was operated by amounts – and sometimes without even Moyer Packing Co. before it was acquired having a permit.133 Excessive amounts of E. by Smithfield, and then by the Brazilian- coli, ammonia, phosphorus, oil and grease based firm, JBS. JBS is still an unfamiliar were found in the creek downstream of the name to many American consumers, but rendering plant.134 acquisitions such as its purchase of the In 2007, JBS’s facility along Skippack Pennsylvania plant have quietly made Creek ranked as the 10th-largest industrial the company the world’s largest beef source of toxic pollution discharged to riv- producer and exporter.127 In the United ers in Pennsylvania that year by weight.135 States, JBS purchased Swift & Company The company’s rendering plant dumped in 2007, then followed up by purchas- more than 314,000 pounds of pollutants ing the poultry operations of Pilgrim’s into Skippack Creek that year.136 Pride and the beef processing opera- The plant also experienced periodic tions of Smithfield Foods.128 If the U.S. major pollution events that triggered fish Justice Department hadn’t intervened kills.137 In August 2007, an equipment on antitrust grounds, JBS would have failure allowed untreated, ammonia-filled also bought the National Beef Packing wastewater to enter the creek, causing the Company, then the fourth-largest beef levels of dissolved oxygen in the water producer in the United States.129 to fall drastically, killing on the order of JBS now controls nearly a quarter of 10,000 fish along a full mile of the creek.138 the U.S. beef processing market (tied for Lynda Rebarchak, a spokeswoman for the first), 22 percent of the U.S. poultry pro- Pennsylvania Department of Environmen- cessing market through its majority own- tal Protection, told the Allentown Morning ership of Pilgrim’s Pride (first), and more Call that the spill was “one of the biggest than 10 percent of the U.S. pork process- we’ve seen in the region in recent years.”139 ing market (third).130 In the United States, Another 15,000 fish died in spills in De- JBS owns 12 slaughterhouses, 11 cattle cember 2007 and June 2008.140 feedlots, more than 30 poultry process- Facing an enforcement lawsuit under ing plants, a hide tannery, and nearly two the federal Clean Water Act, JBS agreed dozen regional distribution centers.131 In in June 2010 to pay a $1.9 million fine and the United States, the company has the build a $6 million wastewater treatment capacity to slaughter and package nearly plant at the facility.141 30 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways As JBS consolidates its purchases in the to waterways than any other industrial United States, the company faces a choice: facility in Colorado, and is in the top 20 continue the environmentally damaging nationwide.146 practices of its predecessors, or turn over Over the 10 years from 1999 to 2008, a new leaf. Residents of eastern Pennsyl- the Cargill Meat Solutions slaughter- vania hope the company will choose the house injected more than 27 million latter course. pounds of nitrate compounds into the South Platte River – more than 2 million pounds per year.147 Cargill and Colorado’s South Cargill’s plant has also polluted the wa- Platte River terway with bacteria. In 2004 and 2005, The South Platte River is one of the the Fort Morgan slaughterhouse released great rivers of the American West, drain- more E. coli bacteria into the South ing thousands of square miles of forests Platte River than allowed by permit. In and grasslands on its way from the eastern November 2009, a federal judge fined the flank of the Rocky Mountains, through the company $200,000 for the violations, and city of Denver, and across the Great Plains the Environmental Protection Agency of Colorado and Nebraska. The South negotiated upgrades to the company’s Platte is the principal source of water for wastewater treatment facility.148 communities and agriculture in Colorado’s eastern plains.142 In the mountains, fishermen consider Dairy Dangers: Factory Farms the South Platte to be a gold medal trout stream, filled with trophy-sized rainbow and the Death, Rebirth, and and brown trout. But by the time the “Redeath” of a Great Lake South Platte leaves Denver, its entire The resurrection of Lake Erie was volume can consist of treated sewage dis- once considered to be one of the signal charge at times of low flow, with elevated accomplishments of the modern envi- levels of nutrients including nitrates, phos- ronmental movement. Considered to be phorus, and ammonia.143 Nutrient levels a “dead lake” in the late 1960s, by the in the lower reaches of the South Platte 1980s Lake Erie was once again support- often exceed U.S. EPA guidelines for con- ing thriving populations of fish – thanks trolling algae blooms and oxygen deple- in large part to reductions in the flow of tion, and the waterway does not support phosphorus to the lake. the full range of life that would exist in a Strong environmental regulations clean river.144 played a key role in restoring Lake Erie The Cargill Meat Solutions slaughter- to health. Phosphorus was banned from house in Fort Morgan, 80 miles down- detergents, sewage treatment plants up- stream of Denver, is a major contributor graded their operations, and the use of to the problem. The plant processes 5,000 streamside buffers and better agricultural head of cattle and generates 1.5 millions practices reduced nutrient runoff from of gallons of wastewater per day.145 Dur- farms. ing normal operations, this plant emits Once a success story, however, Lake massive amounts of pollution into the Erie is back in trouble again. The dead South Platte River. In fact, according to zone in the lake has not only returned the Environmental Protection Agency’s but continually worsened in recent years. Toxics Release Inventory, this facility During the summer of 2010, massive emits more raw pounds of toxic pollution blooms of cyanobacteria – or blue-green Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 31 Photo: T. Archer, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (DRP), which is particularly readily absorbed by plants, into the lake. Flows of DRP in two key western Lake Erie tributaries have increased significantly since the mid-1990s and are now higher than they were in the mid-1970s, when efforts to reclaim Lake Erie began in earnest. 151 At the same time as DRP flows to Lake Erie have increased, Ohio and its neighboring states have experienced a dramatic shift from small-scale to factory-scale farming operations, with a particularly profound shift in the dairy industry. Between 1992 and 2007, the state of Ohio shed more than half A harmful algae bloom covers the waters of the western basin of its small dairy farmers, while the of Lake Erie. Algae blooms have become more common in percentage of the state’s dairy herd on recent years – reversing decades of progress in the restoration of farms of 200 cows or greater increased the lake. from 6.7 percent in 1993 to 36 percent in 2007.152 In northwestern Ohio, southeastern algae – occurred in the western basin of Michigan and parts of Indiana, the past Lake Erie. Scientists suspect that algae two decades have seen a proliferation blooms and the associated depletion of of large, factory-style dairy operations, oxygen may be responsible for declining many of which can be traced back to a populations of sport fish such as walleye single firm called Vreba-Hoff Dairy and yellow perch in the lake.149 Development. The cause of the reemergence of the Vreba-Hoff was founded by im- dead zone has been puzzling. Total phos- migrants from the Netherlands and phorus loading to the lake has typically opened its first dairy in Michigan in been at or below the target level set by 1997. After meeting financial success the United States and Canada to prevent with its own dairies, the company algae blooms and oxygen depletion in the began acting as a consultant, luring lake. A recent state task force in Ohio es- dozens of other dairy farmers from timated that agriculture – when measured the Netherlands to set up factory-style statewide – is in “phosphorus balance” for dairy CAFOs in Ohio, Michigan and the first time in many years. And indeed, Indiana.153 overall, the number of farm animals in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana were the state has been on the decline.150 All of considered attractive locations for dairy these factors would seem to suggest that CAFOs at the time because of their agribusiness is not a major contributor to lenient environmental regulations. the reemergence of the dead zone. Before the economy (and milk prices) Over the last few years, however, sci- collapsed in 2008, the company helped entists have discovered that, while total to broker the construction of more than phosphorus loads to the lake have held 41 facilities in the three states.154 steady, there has been a sharp increase In Michigan, the two dairies directly in flows of dissolved reactive phosphorus owned by Vreba-Hoff have a long his- 32 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways tory of environmental violations. The tion of the farming community is either Michigan Department of Natural Re- over-applying or applying [phosphorus] sources and the Environment (DNRE) without proper consideration to the tim- found that the dairies discharged waste to ing or methods of application.”161 Over- surface waters at least 49 times between application or mis-application of manure 2001 and 2009.155 In response to enforce- often results in phosphorus finding its ment action by the state environmental way into rivers, streams and lakes. agency, the dairies installed a waste In addition, much of the growth in treatment system to reduce the impact of dairy CAFOs in the basin – particularly their waste on local waterways. However, those established by Vreba-Hoff – has the system did not operate as expected been in the watershed of the Maumee and the company continued to spray River, which drains parts of northeast- its manure on local fields in quantities ern Indiana, southeastern Michigan and well above those permitted by the state. northwestern Ohio before flowing into Vreba-Hoff has also failed to pay penal- Lake Erie at Toledo. Levels of DRP in ties related to its past environmental vio- Maumee River are now at their highest lations.156 In October 2010, the DNRE levels since at least 1975.162 asked a state court judge to reduce the Citizens rallied to save Lake Erie once number of cows that could be housed at before. But it is becoming apparent that the facilities until the dairies’ discharges saving it again will require taking action meet state standards.157 against the proliferation of factory farms Many of the dairies that Vreba-Hoff in the region, and holding existing fac- helped establish in the region have also tory farms accountable for cleaning up run afoul of environmental laws. A south- the pollution they cause. eastern Michigan group has documented more than 1,000 confirmed violations of environmental and other laws by dairy operations, many of them operated or King Corn: ADM and the established by Vreba-Hoff.158 Similar Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone patterns of violations have occurred at The Gulf of Mexico is home to a half- farms in Indiana and Ohio.159 billion dollar fishery, as well as a vital Is the manure produced on concen- tourism industry. The vast BP oil spill in trated dairy farms run by companies like the Gulf during 2010 caused immeasur- Vreba-Hoff partially responsible for the able damage to the Gulf’s ecosystems. re-emergence of Lake Erie’s dead zone? But long before the BP spill, the Gulf of The scientific jury is still out, but there Mexico was in serious jeopardy. is good reason for concern. Each year, the Gulf of Mexico de- Ohio’s Lake Erie Phosphorus Task velops an oxygen-depleted dead zone Force recently concluded that “there are roughly the size of Massachusetts – one changes in agriculture having an effect of the largest dead zones in the world.163 on the delivery of [dissolved reactive The occurrence of such dead zones in phosphorus] to Lake Erie.”160 Among the United States has increased 30-fold those changes are shifts in tillage practices since 1960, along with the expansion of – including the widespread adoption of industrial agribusiness.164 no-till farming, changes in drainage prac- The culprit in the formation of the tices, and changes in how Ohio farmers dead zone is the massive flow of nutri- fertilize their crops. The task force report ents from the Mississippi River and its notes that “it is apparent that some frac- tributaries.165 As those rivers pass through Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 33 Photo: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio and soybeans are responsible for more than half of the nitrogen and a quarter of the phosphorus that finds its way into the Gulf.166 The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences has found that corn is “the major source of total nitrogen loading to the Mississippi River.”167 The NRC also found that: • Nitrate concentrations in rivers are the highest in the Corn Belt in the Midwestern United States, where nitrogen fertilizers are applied in the greatest amounts. • Depending on rainfall levels, on the order of 15 to 36 percent of the nutrients applied to a corn planta- This image, generated by NASA, shows the shape of the dead tion in the Midwest end up in zone in the Gulf of Mexico in 2004. The dead zone, a region of downstream rivers and lakes.168 low dissolved oxygen levels, is caused by runoff of nutrients into the Mississippi River basin. Excess nutrients fuel the growth Adding to the challenge is the fact that of algae blooms, which decompose, consuming oxygen from the much of America’s corn is grown in parts water and threatening the health of the half-billion-dollar of the Midwest that use subsurface tile fishery in the Gulf. drainage, which improves agricultural productivity by lowering the water table by draining water into ditches. Recent research suggests that intensive farming America’s agricultural heartland, they of fertilized crops on tile-drained land carry nitrogen and phosphorus downriver is an important contributor to nitrogen to the Gulf of Mexico. Those nutrients pollution in the Mississippi River and in turn drive the growth of algae blooms. Gulf of Mexico.169 When the algae die and decompose, the These problems are exacerbated by process consumes oxygen dissolved in the the fact that American farmers now plant water. Once oxygen levels fall enough, more corn each year than they did in the the water becomes unable to support early 2000s. In 2010, American farm- life – creating a dead zone. ers planted an additional 12.1 million No crop has greater responsibil- acres of corn – an area twice the size of ity for nutrient pollution of the Gulf of Maryland – compared with 2001, adding Mexico than corn. And no company is additional strain from nutrient pollution more responsible for the development to waterways in America’s heartland and of America’s corn economy than Archer the Gulf of Mexico.170 Daniels Midland. Why are American farmers plant- Corn plays an important role in the ing so much corn? The answer is not formation of the Gulf dead zone. The necessarily to provide Americans with dead zone is caused by algae blooms nutritious food. Rather, it is a response fueled by nutrients – nitrogen and phos- to federal policies that have encouraged phorus – that are carried downstream into the use of corn-based ethanol as a vehicle the Gulf from the Mississippi River. Corn fuel, increased the amount of high- 34 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways fructose corn syrup in American diets, Everett Dirksen to draft legislation that and provided a cheap source of grain that allowed the federal Food for Peace pro- has fueled the growth of concentrated gram to sell processed food and not just animal feeding operations. raw ingredients. He said, “It changed One of the companies that has been the whole world, because now it was most influential in crafting America’s corn the products we [at ADM] sell, not the economy – and that has benefited most products we buy.”173 from its emergence – is Archer Daniels Andreas was also one of the earliest Midland, or ADM. promoters of the idea of selling agricul- ADM is the leading processor of corn tural surpluses to Communist nations, – a crop that covers much of the farmland an idea that was finally implemented – in America’s Midwest. ADM produces an- to ADM’s great benefit – by the Nixon imal feed, ethanol fuel, and high-fructose administration in 1972.174 Those sales – corn syrup. With the partial exception of especially the $700 million sale of grain animal feed, all of these are markets for to the Soviet Union – set the stage for a corn that did not exist 50 years ago and sea change in agricultural policy in the would likely not exist today were it not United States that gave a major boost to for federal policies. Ethanol, corn-based ADM’s profitability. sweeteners and other corn “bioproducts” Since the New Deal, the federal gov- accounted for nearly $1 billion in profit ernment had worked to stabilize farm for ADM in 2008.171 prices by keeping grain out of the market With its enormous size, substantial during years of bumper crops using a va- market power, and weighty political riety of mechanisms, including financial clout, ADM has created a public policy incentives for farmers to keep land out and economic environment that encour- of production and to store excess grain ages many Midwestern farmers to grow as well as direct federal purchases of corn in massive, factory-scale plots. The surplus crops. The 1972 grain sales to corn market in the United States owes its the Soviet Union, however, coupled with current shape to three ADM-supported a poor harvest in the United States and policies – federal subsidies for corn other factors, created a temporary grain farmers, support for ethanol production, shortage that sent supermarket prices and protection for the domestic sugar through the roof.175 market. To prevent future shortages, the Nixon administration and Congress shifted U.S. Subsidies for Corn Production agricultural policy to encourage – rather In the 1970s, ADM was run by a po- than discourage – the surplus produc- litically connected executive, Dwayne tion of grains such as corn. To prevent Andreas, who became well known for a collapse in prices, the 1973 Farm Bill contributing hundreds of thousands of allowed the Department of Agriculture dollars to political campaigns across to pay farmers directly when market the ideological spectrum. From 1989 to prices for their crops fell below their 2010, Archer Daniels Midland contrib- production costs. For example, if corn uted more than $8 million to political costs $3.50 a bushel to produce, federal campaigns.172 policy allows farmers to sell (and proces- Andreas told the Washington Post in sors such as ADM to purchase) that corn 1996 how he and ADM consultant Mar- at $2.50 a bushel on the open market, tin Sorkin worked with Vice President with the difference made up through a Hubert Humphrey and Illinois Senator check paid directly to the farmer by the Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 35 federal government. 176 While ADM market. As described by Manning, ADM does not receive the money directly, the helped to finance a lobbying effort by subsidy greatly benefits the company by Florida sugarcane growers to protect encouraging farmers to plant as much themselves from international competi- corn as possible – thereby assuring a tion. The campaign succeeded. In 1982, flow of cheap inputs for processors Congress imposed a cap on the import such as ADM. Earl Butz, the secretary of foreign sugar, which raised the price of agriculture under the Nixon admin- of sugar two- to three-fold above the istration and a leading advocate for the world market price.181 Suddenly, ADM’s 1973 Farm Bill, famously urged farmers corn syrup product became competitive, to “plant fencerow to fencerow,” and to prompting processed food and beverage “get big or get out.”177 manufacturers to switch from sugar to This was a major shift in farm policy, cheaper corn syrup. and the subsidy persists today. Between Today, corn-based sweeteners are now 1995 and 2009, corn drew nearly $76 the leading additive in processed foods billion in federal subsidies – more than and beverages. The average American any other crop. 178 These payments today eats about 50 pounds of high ensure cheap inputs for factory hog fructose corn syrup per year – up from farms and feedlots, while helping huge almost none in 1975.182 Without ADM, grain processors like ADM to engineer and the protectionist sugar policies that lucrative markets for processed food persist today, there would be no market ingredients and ethanol. for corn-based sweeteners. These policies contribute to the pressure on Midwestern Protection for the Domestic Sugar farmers to grow large amounts of corn. Market In his book, Against the Grain, author Ethanol Subsidies Richard Manning describes how ADM ADM found that demand for high fruc- financed a lobbying effort that resulted tose corn syrup decreased in the winter in policies designed to protect the and increased in the summer, driven by American sugar industry from interna- changes in public demand for sweetened tional competition – allowing ADM to beverages. Looking for a way to capitalize cut into the domestic sugar market with on the excess production capacity created its corn-based sweeteners.179 by this pattern, ADM settled on ethanol In the 1970s, ADM developed a – and particularly ethanol from corn – process for manufacturing high fruc- which it could manufacture through the tose corn syrup by “wet milling” corn. same wet milling process used to make The company planned to market this corn syrup. product as a food additive in place of According to the New York Times, sugar, increasing sales and profits. The “ADM spent nearly three decades push- only obstacle to this plan was that the ing relentlessly for the use of ethanol market price for sugar was cheaper than in gasoline, lobbying Congress and the the price for which ADM could produce White House and rousing farmers.”183 In corn syrup.180 a report called “A Case Study in Corpo- Instead of finding a cheaper way rate Welfare,” the Cato Institute relates to make corn syrup, Andreas and his how CEO Andreas approached President team came up with a strategy to make Carter in 1978 with a plan to promote sugar more expensive – thereby enabling U.S. energy independence through a tax ADM to compete in the sweetener break on ethanol, achieved in the Energy 36 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Photo: Jim Parkin, istockphoto.com Federal subsidies and targets for ethanol production have pushed American farmers to plant an additional 12 million acres of corn compared with a decade ago. Tax Act passed later that year.184 In 1979, that American ethanol largely comes Carter added support for ethanol by cre- from corn rather than sugar, a cheaper ating a loan guarantee program for new raw ingredient.188 As a result, farmers face ethanol plants and put a tariff on Brazilian increasing pressure to plant ever-larger ethanol made from sugar. corn plantations on available land across Support for corn ethanol has contin- the Midwest. ued. In the 2005 Energy Bill, Congress By using its political influence, ADM renewed huge tax incentives for ethanol has profited immensely. As a result, fed- production, and ordered producers to eral taxpayers now subsidize the growth refine 7.5 billion gallons of the fuel per of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. year by 2012, in the name of reducing dependence on foreign oil.185 Achieving this mandate will require the planting of an estimated 3.7 million additional acres of corn in the United States.186 Over the past several decades, ADM’s ethanol profits have risen along with government subsidies for the fuel – which now exceed 50 cents per gallon.187 ADM’s advocacy efforts have ensured Pollution from Corporate Agribusiness: Killing America’s Waterways 37 Policy Recommendations C ontrol of America’s system of food enforcement of these moratoria has production has become increas- varied, there is an urgent need to ingly concentrated in the hands of put the brakes on the expansion of a few large corporations, which in turn CAFOs until key questions regard- have helped reshape the way America ing their impacts on the environment produces food, often to the detriment and public health are addressed and of our environment. In particular, the effective systems are put in place to industrial concentration of livestock op- ensure that CAFO pollution does not erations – from the grain it demands to poison America’s waterways. the manure it produces to the processing In addition, states should impose of its end-products – has taken a severe outright bans on the worst corporate toll on our nation’s waterways. agribusiness practices, including the Fortunately there are important steps winter spreading of manure in cold- that local, state and federal governments weather states, which dramatically can take immediately to reduce the increases the potential for runoff into threat corporate agribusiness poses to rivers and streams. waterways. 2. Guarantee protection to all of America’s waterways. A core 1. Ban the worst practices. States protection of the federal Clean such as North Carolina as well Water Act is that discharges of pollu- as local governments around the tion to our waterways are strictly nation have adopted moratoria on limited in permits written to ensure the opening of new CAFOs. While clean water. However, a series of 38 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways court decisions, culminating in the the pollution controls necessary to U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 decision keep animal waste out of our water- in the case of Rapanos v. United States, ways. have threatened to strip this protec- 4. Enforce existing laws. Existing tion from thousands of intermittent clean water laws give the state and and headwaters streams and isolated federal governments several power- wetlands across the country. Conse- ful tools to address pollution from quently, where CAFOs or other agribusiness. Often, however, these industrial agribusiness operations tools are left unused. Specifically, begin dumping pollution into one of governments should: these unprotected waters, the U.S. EPA would have little ability to stop a. Require agribusiness operations them. Already, EPA reports that to implement mandatory, en- more than 500 enforcement cases forceable, numeric reductions in have been compromised because of nutrient runoff or other forms of this new legal loophole.189 Either pollution as part of comprehensive Congress or federal agencies can plans (known as Total Maximum rectify this problem by clarifying Daily Loads, or TMDLs) to meet that the Clean Water Act protects water quality standards in spe- all of America’s waterways. Signifi- cific waterways. The U.S. EPA is cantly, the Farm Bureau and several scheduled to finalize the TMDL agribusiness interests have been for the Chesapeake Bay, and the among the most vocal opponents of Bay states’ plans to implement legislation to close this loophole. it, by the end of 2010. The open question is whether the states’ plans will be strong enough to 3. Hold corporate agribusiness rein in agribusiness pollution – responsible for its pollution. including the 1.1 billion pounds of Vertically integrated poultry and chicken litter generated annually pork firms have been allowed to by the demands of Perdue and gain the benefits of control over the other agribusiness operations on production process while disclaim- the Delmarva Peninsula. ing responsibility for the pollution their animals produce. Various b. Issue water pollution permits legal efforts around the country for all CAFOs that discharge or are making headway in establishing propose to discharge to water- these firms’ legal responsibility for ways, including those which, upon keeping pollution from their animals inspection, demonstrate a likeli- out of our waterways, but the issue hood of discharging to a water- is so clear-cut that there should be way. These permits set legal limits no ambiguity. State and federal law for the amount of pollution that should clearly assign joint and several CAFOs may discharge to local liability for the waste produced at waterways. But while permitting contract farm operations to vertically is at the core of the Clean Water integrated firms. This simple clari- Act’s system for regulating pol- fication of legal responsibility will lution from large facilities, as of provide vertically integrated firms early 2008, less than half of the with a powerful incentive to invest in nation’s CAFOs had permits.190 Policy Recommendations 39 States generally bear the respon- tions and still remain in business. To sibility for enforcing the Clean provide a real deterrent to pollution Water Act, and should be required from corporate agribusiness, state to issue permits that are strong and federal governments should beef enough to protect local waterways up enforcement by adding additional from pollution. inspectors and enforcement officers, and create tough penalties for major c. Guarantee uniform enforce- or repeated violations of environ- ment across states. Historically, mental laws, including mandatory agribusiness firms have expanded minimum penalties and bans that their operations in parts of the prevent repeat violators of environ- country with lax environmental mental laws anywhere in the nation standards – undermining the from securing new permits. mission of the Clean Water Act, which is to assure clean water for 6. Empower local communities. all Americans. The U.S. Environ- Several states limit the ability of mental Protection Agency should local zoning boards to ban or impose ensure that states take sufficient conditions on factory farming opera- action to prevent agribusiness tions. Since local communities bear pollution, or withdraw enforce- the brunt of factory farm opera- ment authority from states that tions, they should have the authority persistently refuse to do so. There to prohibit or limit them – as they are signs that this is beginning to would with most other land use/ occur: a recent EPA investigation zoning decision in most states. States found that the state of Illinois should eliminate any provisions or failed to issue required permits to policies that limit the authority of CAFOs, has failed to adequately local governments to regulate land inspect CAFOs to determine their use related to factory farm opera- compliance with environmental tions. laws, and has failed to ensure that 7. Ensure environmental transpar- CAFOs that violate the law return ency. In 2008, the U.S. Government to compliance or pay appropriate Accountability Office issued a report penalties.191 The U.S. EPA has concluding that “no federal agency laid out specific criteria Illinois collects accurate and consistent data must meet in order to retain its on the number, size and location of authority to enforce the law. CAFOs.”192 The lack of informa- 5. Give environmental laws real tion about CAFOs makes it virtu- teeth. Even when agribusiness firms ally impossible for citizens to assess are caught in the act of polluting their impact on the environment or our waterways, the penalties and their compliance with environmen- enforcement actions to which they tal standards. With creation of the are subject fail to deter future pollu- Toxics Release Inventory in 1987, the tion or compensate for the additional United States ensured that citizens profits received as a result of skirting were given access to information environmental laws. Firms such as about the discharge of toxic chemi- the Vreba-Hoff dairies in Michigan cals in their neighborhoods. Given (see page 31) can compile a decade- the tremendous damage caused by long record of environmental viola- discharge of nutrients, bacteria, 40 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways pesticides and other pollutants from shift the nation to a more sustainable agribusiness operations, there is no system of food production for the reason why they should be subject future. The Department of Justice to any less transparency. The federal is currently reviewing anti-trust government should devise systems concerns within the agribusiness to provide the public with more sector, and Congress is expected to information about pollution from take up the Farm Bill in 2012. agribusiness operations. 8. Encourage better practices. The flip side of tightening enforcement of environmental laws is encourag- ing farmers to implement better practices that are less damaging to the environment. Federal and state governments, acting in coopera- tion with farming organizations and the extension services of land-grant universities, should provide outreach, information, and resources to help farmers implement practices that reduce the flow of polluted runoff to America’s rivers and streams. This incentives-based “best practices” approach has proven to be inade- quate as the cornerstone of the nation’s effort to address agribusi- ness pollution, but it remains an important element of any program to ensure that farmers are aware of better ways to produce crops and are able to implement those solutions quickly. 9. Look for systemic solutions. At the root of the water pollution problem caused by agribusiness is a system of food production that is heavily subsidized by the public and controlled by only a few firms. Public subsidies have arguably shifted America’s food system to one that is less beneficial both for Ameri- cans’ health and our waterways, and facilitated the emergence of massive agribusiness firms with tremendous control over the marketplace. State and federal governments should consider deeper policy changes that Policy Recommendations 41 Notes 1. Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John 8. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Jay, 1785, as quoted in Eyler Robert Coates, “5.11: Fecal Bacteria,” in Monitoring and Assessing Sr., Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government, Water Quality, downloaded from water.epa. downloaded from etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/ gov/type/rsl/monitoring/vms511.cfm, 10 quotations/jeff1320.htm, 20 September 2010. September 2010. 2. Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George 9. Fortune, Fortune 500: 2010 List, Logan, 1816, as quoted in Eyler Robert Coates, downloaded from money.cnn.com/magazines/ Sr., Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government, fortune/fortune500/2010/full_list/, 17 downloaded from etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/ September 2010. quotations/jeff1320.htm, 20 September 2010. 10. Based on 2009 revenues of $115 billion 3. There are many potential definitions of from Cargill, Five-Year Financial Summary, “agribusiness.” The term is sometimes used downloaded from www.cargill.com/company/ as a generic description for business-oriented financial/five-year/index.jsp, 17 September farms, or as a catch-all term for the entire 2010, and comparable revenue figures from agriculture sector of the economy, including Fortune, Fortune 500: 2010 List, downloaded businesses that manufacture or supply products from money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/ used on farms. In this report, we mean the fortune500/2010/full_list/, 17 September 2010. term “agribusiness” to refer to agricultural 11. Government Accountability Office, production carried out at a large scale. Agricultural Concentration and Agricultural “Agricultural production” includes not only the Commodity and Retail Food Prices: Briefing for raising of plants or animals on the farm itself, Congressional Staff, 24 April 2009. but also the processing of raw materials from 12. Ibid. farms into consumer-ready products. There are 13. Lyndsey Layton, “As Egg Producers other economic actors – such as food retailers – Consolidate, Problems of Just One Company that have potentially great impacts on how food Can Be Far-Reaching,” Washington Post, 24 is produced in the United States, but we do August 2010. not address those actors in this report. “Large 14. See note 11. scale” is an inherently subjective term, but 15. Smithfield Foods, Smithfield Foods 2001 can be interpreted to refer to production at an Annual Report, undated. industrial scale. 16. “Fitch Assigns Initial IDR of B+ to 4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Dean Foods; Outlook Stable,” Business Wire, 24 Watershed Assessment, Tracking, & Environmental August 2010. Results: National Summary of State Information, 17. Patricia Breakey, “Franklin Farmers File downloaded from iaspub.epa.gov/waters10/ Lawsuit,” Oneonta Daily Star, 16 June 2010. attains_nation_cy.control, 10 September 2010. 18. “DFA and Two Former Execs Hit 5. Ibid. with $12 Million Penalty,” Farm and Dairy, 17 6. Executive Office of the President of December 2008. the United States, Office of Science and 19. See note 17. Technology Policy, Interagency Working Group 20. Higher costs: James M. MacDonald, on Harmful Algal Blooms, Hypoxia, and William D. McBride and Eric J. O’Donoghue, Human Health, Scientific Assessment of Hypoxia “Low Costs Drive Production to Large Dairy in U.S. Coastal Waters, September 2010. Farms,” Amber Waves, September 2007. 7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 21. See note 11. Protecting Water Quality from Agricultural Runoff, 22. Ibid. February 2003. 23. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 42 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Agricultural Statistics 2009, 2009, as well as Bay watershed, but the vast majority occurs in Agricultural Statistics annual reports for 1994, counties that are inside the watershed. 1999, and 2004. 35. See, for example, U.S. Environmental 24. Ibid. Protection Agency, EPA Orders Two Virginia 25. Concentration of various livestock Farms to Cease Unpermitted Waste Discharges to the industries has increased in states since Shenandoah River (press release), 2 June 2010. the mid-1970s: Chantal Line Carpentier, 36. Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Manure’s Deepananda Herath and Alfons Weersink, Impact on Rivers, Streams and the Chesapeake Bay: Winrock International, Environmental and Other Keeping Manure Out of the Water, 28 July 2004. Factors Influencing Location Decisions of Livestock 37. 8.5 million acres: Chesapeake Bay Operations, 2005. Program, Bay Barometer: A Health and Restoration 26. See note 11. Assessment of the Chesapeake Bay and Watershed in 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2008, March 2009. National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2007 38. Caitlin Kovzelove, Tom Simpson and Census of Agriculture, 4 February 2009; U.S. Ron Korcak, Water Stewardship, Quantification Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census of and Implications of Surplus Phosphorus and Manure Agriculture 1950: Agriculture 1950: A Graphic in Major Animal Production Regions of Maryland, Summary, 1952. Pennsylvania and Virginia, February 2010. 28. Third largest: WATT Poultry USA, 39. Chesapeake Bay Program, Sources February 2010, as cited in Delmarva Poultry of Phosphorus Loads to the Bay and Sources of Industry, Facts About Maryland’s Broiler Chicken Nitrogen Loads to the Bay, downloaded from Industry, August 2010. Eastern U.S.: “Perdue Is www.cheapeakebay.net, 2 September 2010. First and Only Chicken Company to Receive 40. Delmarva Poultry Industry, Facts About USDA Process Verified Seal,” PRNewswire, 10 Maryland’s Broiler Chicken Industry, August 2010. February 2010; $4.6 billion from Perdue, About 41. Chesapeake Bay Program, Us, downloaded from www.perdue.com/ Dissolved Oxygen, downloaded from www. company/about/index.html, 28 October 2010. chesapeakebay.net/status_dissolvedoxygen. 29. Dale Keiger, “Farmacology,” Johns aspx?menuitem=19675, 2 September 2010. Hopkins Magazine, June 2009. 42. S. Bricker, et al., National Oceanic and 30. Chesapeake Bay Program, Bay FAQ, Atmospheric Administration, Effects of Nutrient downloaded from www.chesapeakebay.net/ Enrichment in the Nation’s Estuaries: A Decade of bayfaq.aspx?menuitem=14589#care, 17 Change, 2007. September 2010. 43. Ibid. 31. Chesapeake Bay Program, Bay History, 44. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Bay downloaded from www.chesapeakebay. Grasses Up, But Below Goal, 28 April 2010. net/bayhistory.aspx?menuitem=14591, 17 45. Chesapeake Bay Program, Maryland September 2010. Receives Federal Aid to Help Blue Crab Industry, 32. Arsenic: Bette Hilleman, “Arsenic in January 2009; and National Oceanic and Chicken Production,” Chemical and Engineering Atmospheric Administration, NOAA Approves News, 9 April 2007. $10 Million Disaster Assistance Grant for Virginia 33. U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, Watermen, 19 May 2009. Industry FAQ, downloaded from www. 46. “Denies responsibility,” see: poultryegg.org/faq/faq.cfm, 2 September 2010. Memorandum, U.S. District Court for the District 34. 568 million chickens from Delmarva of Maryland, Assateague Coastkeeper, et al. v. Alan Poultry Industry, Inc., Look What the Poultry and Kristin Hudson Farm, et al., 20 July 2010. Industry Is Doing for Delmarva, January 2010. 47. Ibid. Some of this chicken production, particularly 48. 33 U.S.C. 1316 (a)(4) in Delaware, does not occur in the Chesapeake 49. Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, Notes 43 Oklahoma State University and National Park Askins in Oklahoma Governor Run,” Arkansas Service, The Illinois River Management Plan 1999, Democrat-Gazette, 30 July 2010. December 1998. 63. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake o’ 50. Oklahoma Conservation Commission, the Pines, downloaded from corpslakes.usace. Illinois River Watershed Monitoring Program, army.mil/visitors/projects.cfm?Id=M205850, National Monitoring Project: Post-Implementation 25 October 2010. Monitoring Summary Report – Year 2, Evaluation of 64. Glenn Evans, “Lake o’ the Pines Beaches Post-Implementation Monitoring, July 2007. Remain Closed for E. coli,” News-Journal 51. U.S. Environmental Protection (Longview, Tex.), 22 June 2010. Agency, 2008 Waterbody Report for Illinois 65. Texas Commission on Environmental River, downloaded from iaspub.epa.gov/ Quality, One Total Maximum Daily Load for tmdl_waters10/attains_waterbody.control?p_ Dissolved Oxygen in Lake o’ the Pines, 7 June 2006. list_id=&p_au_id=OK121700030010_00&p_ 66. Ibid. cycle=2008&p_state=OK, 17 September 2010. 67. Bob Hallmark, “Businesses Struggle After 52. Justin Juozapavicius, “Expert: Recreation Beach Closings at East Texas Lake,” KLTV.com, on Illinois River Has Declined,” Seattle Times, 12 July 2010. 10 November 2009. 68. See note 65. 53. James S. Tyree, “Waste Worries, Ag, 69. Ibid. AG Square Off,” Tahlequah Daily Press, 15 June 70. Ibid. 2006. 71. Ibid. 54. Oklahoma Office of the Attorney 72. Fortune, “Fortune 500: 317. Pilgrim’s General, AG Sues Poultry Industry for Polluting Pride,” downloaded from cnnmoney.eu/ Oklahoma Waters (press release), 13 June 2005. magazines/fortune/fortune500/2010/ 55. Tyson Foods, Fiscal Year 2009 Fact Book, snapshots/884.html, 25 October 2010. undated. 73. Consumers Union, Animal Factories: 56. Average chicken: 5.62 pounds, feed to Pollution and Health Threats to Rural Texas, May weight ratio: 1.92 = 10.8 pounds of feed per 2000. chicken, 442.8 million pounds of feed per week, 74. Tony Dutzik, Piper Crowell and John 23 billion pounds of feed per year. Ibid. Rumpler, Environment America Research & 57. Based on data from U.S. Department Policy Center, Wasting Our Waterways: Toxic of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Industrial Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Service, 2007 Census of Agriculture, downloaded Clean Water Act, Fall 2009. from www.agcensus.usda.gov, 13 May 2010. 75. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 58. See note 54. Enforcement and Compliance History Online: 59. Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Detailed Facility Report: Pilgrim’s Pride Mount Watershed Based Plan: Grand Lake (Oklahoma Pleasant, Texas, downloaded from www.epa- Portion) For Control of Nutrients, Sediment and echo.gov/cgi-bin/get1cReport.cgi?tool=echo&I Fecal Bacteria, updated August 2004. DNumber=110000598844, 25 October 2010. 60. Ibid. 76. Texas Commission on Environmental 61. Richard B. Alexander, et al., Quality, Executive Summary: Enforcement Matter, “Differences in Phosphorus and Nitrogen Docket No. 2009-1337-IWD-E, Pilgrim’s Pride Delivery to the Gulf of Mexico from the Corporation, downloaded from www7.tceq.state. Mississippi River Basin,” Environmental tx.us/uploads/eagendas/Agendas/2010/4-14- Science and Technology, 42: 822-830, 2008. 2010/1337iwd.pdf, 25 October 2010. Supplemental materials available from U.S. 77. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Geological Survey at water.usgs.gov/nawqa/ National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2007 sparrow/gulf_findings/index.html. Census of Agriculture, 4 February 2009, and 62. Robert J. Smith, “Poultry Firms Back similar reports for previous years. 44 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways 78. Ibid. Smithfield Foods History, downloaded from www. 79. Ibid. smithfieldfoods.com on 13 July 2010. 80. Ibid. 92. Rick Dove, Neuse Riverkeeper 81. North Carolina Office of Environmental emeritus, quoting Dr. Mark Sobsey, professor Education, Neuse River Basin, downloaded from of environmental sciences and engineering www.ee.enr.state.nc.us/public/ecoaddress/ at the University of North Carolina School riverbasins/neuse.150dpi.pdf, 17 September of Public Health, in North Carolina 2010. Riverkeepers and Waterkeeper Alliance, Real 82. Tony Bartelme, “Scientists Track the Hog Facts, downloaded from www.riverlaw.us/ ‘Phantom’,” The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), 1 realhogfacts.html on 26 July 2010. September 1996. 93. Robbin Marks, et al., Natural Resources 83. Ibid. Defense Council and Clean Water Network, 84. Ibid. America’s Animal Factories: How States Fail to 85. Rick Dove, North Carolina Riverkeepers Prevent Pollution from Livestock Waste, December and Waterkeeper Alliance, Fish Kills of the Neuse, 1998. downloaded from www.riverlaw.us/fishkills.htm 94. JoAnn Burkholder, et al., “Impacts of on 29 July 2010. Waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding 86. Impaired: North Carolina Department of Operations on Water Quality,” Environmental the Environment and Natural Resources, Division Health Perspectives 115: 308-312, doi: 10.1289/ of Water Quality, Final Neuse River Basinwide Water ehp.8839, 14 November 2006. Quality Plan, July 2009, Chapter 10. 95. See note 90. 87. Smithfield Foods, A Look Back at the 96. J. Walker, et al., “Trends in Smithfield Foods History, downloaded from www. Ammonium Concentration in Precipitation smithfieldfoods.com on 13 July 2010; David and Atmospheric Ammonia Emissions at a Barboza, “Goliath of the Hog World; Fast Rise of Coastal Plain Site in North Carolina, U.S.A.” Smithfield Foods Makes Regulators Wary,” New Environmental Science and Technology 34: 3527– York Times, 7 April 2000. 3534, 2000. 88. Lewis Little, president of Smithfield 97. Margaret Lilliard, “Permanent Phase- Packing Company, commented in the company’s Out of Swine Farm Waste,” Associated Press, 26 2001 annual report that “vertical integration gives July 2007. us control over our pork products from squeal to 98. Associated Press State and Local Wire, meal.” See note 15. “Despite Moratorium, More Hog Farms Built 89. Leading owner: Neuse Riverkeeper in N.C. in Past 10 Years,” The Charlotte News & Foundation, Hogs and CAFOs, downloaded from Observer, 23 March 2007. www.neuseriver.org/neuseissuesandfacts/ 99. Smithfield Foods, Form 10-K, Securities hogsandcafos.html on 27 July 2010. Hog farm and Exchange Commission Document 1-15321, and animal quantities: Rick Dove, Statement of 18 June 2010. Richard Dove Community Representative, Testimony 100. See note 97. before the United States Senate Committee on 101. See note 99. Environment and Public Works, 6 September 102. Environmental impacts: Bob Iverson, 2007. Silt: A Problem Turned Solution?, downloaded 90. JoAnn Burkholder, et al., “Comprehensive from www.istc.illinois.edu/special_projects/ Trend Analysis of Nutrients and Related Variables il_river/iverson_siltarticle.pdf, 20 September in a Large Eutrophic Estuary: A Decadal Study 2010; “68 percent” U.S. Army Corps of of Anthropogenic and Climatic Influences,” Engineers, Peoria Lake Habitat Rehabilitation and Limnology and Oceanography 51: 463-487, doi: Enhancement Project, downloaded from www. 10.4319/lo.2006.51.1_part_2.0463, 2006. mvr.usace.army.mil/EMP/hrep/PeoriaLake. 91. Smithfield Foods, A Look Back at the htm, 20 September 2010. Notes 45 103. G.E. Groschen, et al., U.S. Geological 118. Rick Jordahl, “Be the First to Arrive,” Survey, Water Quality in the Lower Illinois River Pork, 1 September 2009. Basin, Illinois, 1995-98, 2000. 119. Associated Press, “Corporate Hog 104. See note 61. Farms Grow, and Raise a Stink,” Msnbc.com, 31 105. Mark B. David, Laurie E. Drinkwater March 2006. and Gregory F. McIsaac, “Sources of Nitrate 120. Dusty Rhodes, “Buckhart Hog Yields in the Mississippi River Basin,” Journal of Operation Opens While Neighbors Fume,” Environmental Quality, 39:1657-1667, 2010. Illinois Times, 18 March 2009. 106. C. Robert Taylor, “Hiding the True 121. Illinois Environmental Protection Extent of Concentration and Market Power Agency, Illinois EPA Livestock Program 2009 with Partial Ownership and Strategic Alliances,” Livestock Facility Investigation, undated. Agriculture & Resource Policy Forum, July 2002. 122. 72 percent: Government 107. Renewable Fuels Association, 2010 Accountability Office, Agricultural Concentration Ethanol Industry Outlook: Climate of Opportunity, and Agricultural Commodity and Retail Food Prices: February 2010. Briefing for Congressional Staff, 24 April 2009; 108. Cargill, Our Businesses: Five Major 30 percent: Western Organization of Resource Business Segments, downloaded from www.cargill. Councils, Banning Packer Ownership of Livestock: com/company/businesses/index.jsp on 27 Myths & Facts, October 2007. August 2010. 123. John D. Anderson and Darren 109. Andrea D. Murphy and John J. Ray, Hudson, “Acquisitions and Integration in the “America’s Largest Private Companies,” Forbes, Beef Industry,” Policy Issues, Agricultural & 16 November 2009. Applied Economics Association, September 110. Cargill, Five-Year Financial Summary, 2008. downloaded from www.cargill.com/company/ 124. Matt Birkbeck, “Montco Beef Plant to financial/five-year/index.jsp on 27 August 2010. Pay $2 Million Fine,” Allentown Morning Call, 17 111. Cargill Meat Solutions, Beardstown, IL, June 2010. downloaded from www.cargillmeatsolutions. 125. Julia Terruso, “Montgomery County com/about_us/tk_cms_about_loc_pork_il.htm, Beef Processor to Pay $2 Million for Polluting,” 20 September 2010. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 June 2010. 112. See note 74. 126. Ibid. 113. “Virtually all”: U.S. Environmental 127. JBS USA, JBS USA Reinforces Protection Agency, Envirofacts database, Form R Commitment to Food Safety through Creation of Report for Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., Beardstown, Food Safety and Quality Advisory Team (News IL, for TRI Reporting Year 2007, downloaded Release), 3 March 2010. from oaspub.epa.gov/enviro/tri_formr_ 128. Swift: JBS USA, Swift Celebrates 150 partone_v2.get_details?rpt_year=2007&fac_ Years of Meat Industry Excellence: Gus Swift’s id=62618XCLCRRR1BO&ban_flag=Y, 5 Legacy of Meat Industry Innovation Lives On (News November 2010. Release), 24 June 2005; Smithfield: Jakon Hays 114. U.S. Environmental Protection and Maureen Watts, “Company Timeline,” Agency, Envirofacts database, Toxics Release Smithfield: The Virginian-Pilot, 18 February Inventory Report for Cargill Meat Solutions, TRI 2009; “JBS Said To Be Considering Smithfield ID 62618XCLCRRR1BO, downloaded from Takeover, Increasing Pace Of Consolidation In www.epa.gov/enviro/facts/tri/index.html, 20 Meat Sector,” Business Monitor International, BMI September 2010. Americas Food and Drink Insights, 1 August 2010. 115. See note 74. 129. “JBS Said To Be Considering 116. Jim Suhr, “Ex-Cargill Manager Given 5 Smithfield Takeover, Increasing Pace Of Years,” Associated Press, 16 August 2002. Consolidation In Meat Sector,” Business Monitor 117. Ibid. International, BMI Americas Food and Drink 46 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways Insights, 1 August 2010; “JBS Packerland Parent 149. Ohio Environmental Protection, Ohio Ends Bid for National Beef,” The Business Journal Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force Final Report, of Milwaukee, 20 February 2009. April 2010. February 2009. 150. Ibid. 130. See note 55. 151. Ibid. 131. See note 127. 152. See note 23. 132. Ibid. 153. Julie M. McKinnon, “Vreba-Hoff Local 133. See note 125. Dairy Firm Plans No More Bankruptcies,” 134. Ibid. Toledo Blade, 3 August 2010. 135. Marilyn S. D’Angelo, “Two Companies 154. Vreba-Hoff, Frequently Asked Questions, Responsible for Bulk of River Pollution,” downloaded from www.vrebahoff.com/HTML/ Philadelphia Business Journal, 6 November 2009. faqs.htm, 17 September 2010. 136. Ibid. 155. At the time, the Michigan DNRE 137. Daniel Patrick Sheehan, “Moyer Packing was known as the Michigan Department of Spill Cause of Fish Kill,” Allentown Morning Environmental Quality. Call, 23 September 2006; Frank Devlin, “Errant 156. Michigan Department of Ammonia Release Killed Fish,” Allentown Morning Environmental Quality, Vreba-Hoff Dairy – June Call, 24 July 2002; Julia Terruso, “Montgomery 2010 Update, 19 July 2010. County Beef Processor to Pay $2 Million for 157. Dennis Pelham, “Vreba-Hoff Dairies Polluting,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 June 2010. Await Court Decision,” Daily Telegram (Adrian, 138. Brian Callaway, “MoPac Rendering Mich.), 2 October 2010. Plant Likely to be Fined over Wastewater that 158. Environmentally Concerned Citizens Killed 10,000 Fish,” Allentown Morning Call, of South Central Michigan, Confirmed 14 August 2007; Pennsylvania Department of Violations/Discharges from CAFOs and Environmental Protection, MoPac Rendering Liquid-System Livestock Operations to Bean/ Plant Wastewater Spill Causes Mile-Long Fish Kill in Tiffin Watershed and River Raisin Watershed, Skippack Creek (News Release), 10 August 2007. downloaded from www.nocafos.org/violations. 139. Brian Callaway, “MoPac Rendering Plant htm, 17 September 2010. Likely to be Fined over Wastewater that Killed 159. Ohio: Ben Sutherly, Mike Wagner 10,000 Fish,” Allentown Morning Call, 14 August and Laura A. Bischoff, “Lucrative Megafarm 2007. Market Lures Europeans,” Dayton Daily News, 140. See note 125. 6 December 2002; Indiana: Carla Knapp, 141. Ibid. “Controversial Dairy Planned for Carroll 142. United States Geological Survey, Water County,” Logansport (Ind.) Pharos-Tribune, 21 Quality in the South Platte River Basin: Colorado, October 2007. Nebraska, and Wyoming, 1992–95, 1998. 160. See note 149. 143. Ibid. 161. Ibid. 144. Ibid. 162. Ibid. 145. “Cargill Fined for Water Violations,” 163. Mark Schleifstein, “Dead Zone as Big Fort Morgan Times, 16 November 2009. as Massachusetts along Coast of Louisiana 146. See note 74. and Texas, Scientists Say,” New Orleans Times- 147. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Picayune, 3 August 2010. Toxics Release Inventory, report for TRI Facility 164. See note 6. #80701XCLCR1505E, February 2010; available 165. U.S. Environmental Protection at www.epa.gov/triexplorer/. Agency, Mississippi River Basin Watershed 148. “Cargill Fined $200,000 over Wastewater Nutrient Task Force, Hypoxia 101, downloaded Violations,” The Associated Press State and Local from www.epa.gov/owow_keep/msbasin/ Wire, 13 November 2009. hypoxia101.htm, 5 November 2010. Notes 47 166. See note 61. Supplemental materials 181. Ibid. available from U.S. Geological Survey at water. 182. U.S. Department of Agriculture, usgs.gov/nawqa/sparrow/gulf_findings/index. Economic Research Service, High Fructose html. Corn Syrup: Estimated Number of Per Capita 167. U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Calories Consumed Daily, by Calendar Year (Excel National Research Council, Water Implications of workbook), updated 26 October 2010. Biofuels Production in the United States, National 183. Alexi Barionuevo, “A Bet on Ethanol, Academies Press, 2008. With a Convert at the Helm,” New York Times, 168. S.A. Miller et al, “Use of Monte Carlo 8 October 2006. Analysis to Characterize Nitrogen Fluxes in 184. James Bovard, Cato Institute, Archer Agroecosystems,” Environmental Science and Daniels Midland: A Case Study in Corporate Technology 40: 2324-2332, 2006. Welfare, 1995. 169. See note 105. 185. See note 183. 170. National Corn Growers Association, 186. Susan Powers, Rosa Dominguez-Faus The 2010 Crop – Iowa, downloaded from www. and Pedro Alvarez, “The Water Footprint of iowacorn.org/User/Docs/The%202010%20 Biofuels Production in the USA, Biofuels 1: 255- Crop-%20IA.pdf, 17 September 2010. 260, 2010. 171. Securities and Exchange Commission, 187. See note 183. Archer Daniels Midland Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year 188. Ibid. Ended June 30, 2010, 27 August 2010. 189. U.S. Environmental Protection 172. Center for Responsive Politics, Open Agency, Memorandum from Granta Y. Nakayama Secrets: Archer Daniels Midland, downloaded from to Benjamin Grumbles RE: OECA’s Comments www.opensecrets.org, 22 August 2010. on the June 6, 2007 Memo, Clean Water Act 173. Peter Carlson, “Chairman Across the Jurisdiction Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Board,” Washington Post, 14 July 1996. Decision in Rapanos v. United States & Clarabell v. 174. Harold Henderson, “Supermarket to the United States, 4 March 2008. World,” Illinois Issues, May 2001. 190. U.S. Environmental Protection 175. Clifton B. Luttrell, Federal Reserve Agency, “EPA Targets Clean Water Violations Bank of St. Louis, The Russian Wheat Deal – at Livestock Feeding Operations,” Enforcement Hindsight vs. Foresight, October 1973. Alert, 10(2), March 2009. 176. Tim Weiner, “Dwayne’s World; 191. U.S. Environmental Protection Influence of Archer-Daniels Is Wide as Well as Agency, Region 5, Initial Results of an Informal Deep,” New York Times, 16 January 1996. Investigation of the National Pollutant Discharge 177. As quoted in Michael Pollan, The Elimination System Program for Concentrated Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Animal Feeding Operations in the State of Illinois, Meals, 2006. September 2010. 178. Environmental Working Group, 192. U.S. Government Accountability Farm Subsidy Database, downloaded Office, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: from farm.ewg.org/progdetail. EPA Needs More Information and a Clearly Defined php?fips=00000&progcode=corn, 28 October Strategy to Protect Air and Water Quality from 2010. Pollutants of Concern, September 2008. 179. Richard Manning, Against the 193. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Grain, (New York, North Point Press), ISBN: Section 303(d) List Fact Sheet for Watershed Lake 9780865476226, 2004 as described in Tom o’ the Cherokees, downloaded from iaspub.epa. Philpott, “A Speculation about Why ADM’s gov/tmdl_waters10/huc_rept.control?p_ HFCS Business Is Booming,” Grist.org, 10 May huc=11070206&p_huc_desc=LAKE%20 O%27%20THE%20CHEROKEES&p_cycle=2008, 2006. 10 November 2010. 180. Ibid. 48 Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways
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