Baltimore, MD —More than 35,000 residents in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, the District of Columbia, and states across the country urged EPA to set strong limits on factory farm pollution to protect waterways across the country. Giant factory farms that raise countless chickens and hogs send millions of pounds of manure into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. In 2010 the EPA estimated that roughly one quarter of all excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the Bay was caused solely by animal manure, and factory farms are largely to blame. Factory farms alone send 100 million pounds of nitrogen pollution into the Bay each year, turning the estuary into a sewer and contributing to a dead zone where fish and wildlife perish.
“More than 35,000 citizens in the Chesapeake Bay region and across the country have spoken out against factory farm pollution in our waterways,” said Meg Cronin of Environment Maryland. “We can’t let corporate agribusiness treat the Chesapeake Bay and waterways around the country like their personal sewer, it’s time for EPA to put tough limits on factory farm pollution.”
In August, EPA announced that it would begin working on a nationwide rule to limit manure pollution from factory farms with a proposal due next spring. Every year factory farms send manure and other pollution into our waters. Their waste, laden with nitrogen, phosphorous, hormones and pathogens, contaminates our water and threatens our health. According to the U.S. EPA, giant factory farms generate approximately 300 million pounds of manure annually across the country-- three times the amount of waste generated by the US human population alone.
While EPA has begun taking action in the Chesapeake Bay region by setting an overall pollution reduction blueprint, the groups want EPA to make sure that factory farms do their part in reducing the flow of manure, nutrients and pathogens into the Bay and surrounding waterways.
“I depend on clean water to feed the animals on my farm and my neighbors depend on it for their crops.” said Will Morrow, a farmer and farm owner in Emmitsburg, Maryland. “I take great precautions to properly cycle the manure from my animals but I know lots of other farmers who don’t. I just want to make sure that there is a strong industry standard for the farms that have the most potential to pollute our water.”
Manure in waterways causes a host of environmental and public health problems. It causes algae blooms that decay and use up the oxygen, causing a dead zone in the Bay that up to one third of the Bay every summer, where almost nothing can survive. It also contains chemicals and pathogens, causing a public health risk.
“As a nurse, I worry about people getting exposed to harmful bacteria and viruses from factory farm pollution in the Bay, “ Said Dr. Kristen Welker-Hood, “ It’s time for EPA to protect Americans across the country from these threats so that we can enjoy swimming and boating in our beaches, rivers and lakes.”