Gigantic Farm Animal Waste
Huge Threat To Environment
One Big Hog Farm = More Waste Than City Of LA
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The staggering amount of animal waste produced on American farms often pollutes water, and the risk is growing as more large- scale livestock operations take hold, according to a new U.S. Senate study.
The study found that the amount of animal manure produced in the United States is 130 times greater than the amount of human waste, and there are no national standards for dealing with the animal waste.
For example, a single 50,000-acre hog farm being built in Utah could potentially put out more waste than the city of Los Angeles, the study said.
The report is scheduled to be released later this week, but copies were distributed to reporters by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who called it ``the first comprehensive report to illustrate the magnitude of environmental problems caused by animal waste.''
The study was compiled by the Democratic staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Harkin is the ranking Democrat on that committee.
The study said the nation's agricultural officials consider 60 percent of rivers and streams ``impaired,'' with agricultural runoff the largest contributor to that pollution.
Last year alone, more than 40 animal waste spills killed 670,000 fish in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, the study said. That was up from 20 spills in 1992.
Harkin used the study to support his push for national environmental standards for livestock producers. He and other supporters want Congress to impose national standards so states won't undercut each other in an effort to lure the livestock industry.
Farm groups have been leery of new regulations.
The report also noted that the rise of large-scale livestock operations - a growing trend among meat producers - has greatly increased the risk of waste spills, because the large farms produce more waste than can be spread over nearby cropland.
Over the last 15 years, the number of hog farms nationally has dropped to 157,000 from about 600,000, but the overall output of hogs has increased.
Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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