Waterkeeper Alliance, Environmental Working Group, and North Carolina riverkeeper organizations have just released a first-of-its-kind interactive map revealing the locations and outputs of more than 6,500 swine, cattle, and poultry operations.
The three-year project is bringing unprecedented transparency to the environmental impacts of animal agriculture in the state, which has long been plagued by the adverse effects of the industry’s excessive waste production.
To put it into context, there’s already been one early season fish kill in the Neuse River.
Marc Yaggi, Waterkeeper Alliance’s executive director, had some strong words to share in a press release:
For far too long, North Carolinians have been kept in the dark about the true impact these industrial factory farms are having on communities and waterways. Information is power and now that these sites are definitively identified, we will hold accountable the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for enforcing the Clean Water Act and fixing these massive pollution problems.
For your reading displeasure, here are the study’s key findings:
- Across North Carolina, there is the equivalent of more than 15,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools brimming with swine and cattle waste from CAFOs alone.
- 4,145 waste pits make up 6,848 acres of land (29,831,277 square feet).
- 37 waste pits are within 2,500 feet of a school.
- 136 waste pits are within 2,500 feet of a public water well.
- 170 waste pits are within the state’s 100-year floodplain.
- Poultry housed in CAFO facilities outnumber residents 20-to-1.
On the bright side, there are finally viable, scalable alternatives to traditional animal agriculture that provide nutritious food with a small environmental footprint. To learn more about how The Good Food Institute promotes a cleaner food future, check out our website.