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									 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

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.
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

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,; hog waste lagoon: Bob Nichols,
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Layout: To the Point Publications,
                                                                                                    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

                             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.
                           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
                             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

                        “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

                             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

                            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
                       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
                                                      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”
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
                                                                                   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,
                                                                                   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
                                                                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
                                                                    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
                                                                                   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

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
                                      0 200

                                                                                                  Number of Broilers and
                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                       United States Total   of America’s most storied waterways.
                                                                                                                                                                                             As the nation’s largest estuary, and one
                                      Miles                                                               0    100
                                                   U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service
                                                                                                                                               United States Total

          U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service
                                                                                                                                                 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




                               Hogs and Pigs (millions)   50

                                                          40                                              Farms<5,000+ head
                                                                                                          Farms> 5,000+ head

                                                          20                                  40.8
                                                           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,
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
                                                                                   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

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,
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.

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.
                          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,

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

                              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.
                                                                   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
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
                            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        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
                       Sr., Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government,    fortune/fortune500/2010/full_list/, 17
                       downloaded from        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
                       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
                       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             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, 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                   Dissolved Oxygen, downloaded from www.
company/about/index.html, 28 October 2010.  
    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                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:, 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,,
                       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               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,”,
                       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
                       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, 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
                       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    
                       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           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.                                 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              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
‘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               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 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.                     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
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.      
    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,”, 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                    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                       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
             , 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
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
    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                           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
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,
                         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
                                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
             , 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                          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,”, 10 May           huc=11070206&p_huc_desc=LAKE%20
                                                                              10 November 2010.
                           180. Ibid.

48   Corporate Agribusiness and America’s Waterways

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