Saturday, December 7, 2013

Buried Alive in Chicken Manure

Canadian chicken factories are buried alive in chicken manure, and they're taking us down with them.  All that manure, plus the birds that die before making it to slaughter, clog up the chicken factories with excess nutrients that have to be disposed somewhere.  The runoff from improper manure handling, the air emissions, and the trail along the roads leading away from chicken factories can overwhelm the local environment.  We all pay for the results with degradation of the  environment and our health.

Many #ChickenMafia think that "proper" disposal of chicken manure and chicken coop litter (ie.  wood shavings plus chicken manure) is to load it into a dump truck and cart it off to the municipal dump for burial at huge cost to the municipality, and the planet.  There, it will slowly degrade into ground water pollution and atmospheric methane over the next 100 years.  For those who don't know, methane is a greenhouse gas that is 37 to 75 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.  Please explain to me what is "proper" about this ecological disaster?

After dumping his chicken manure on municipal taxpayers, that same #ChickenMafia farmer (or his farming neighbour) turns around and buys chemical fertilizer for putting on his fields.  Most of the nitrogen content in chemical fertilizers are made using natural gas, with huge amounts of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere.  For the K and P side of the chemical fertilizer, mining the minerals is also energy intensive, so more crude oil is consumed, and more methane and CO2 goes to the atmosphere.  Now is the time to shake your head in disgust.  What's wrong with this picture?

Marie-Luise Blue has a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  She wrote scientific articles for almost 20 years before starting to write gardening articles in 2004. Marie-Luise now writes a local gardening column from her home in Connecticut, USA and has been published in "Organic Gardening" and "Back Home."

I was alerted by Agri 007 to a recent article Dr. Blue published on Opposing Views, a science website discussing the sustainability and ecological impact on the soil, water, and air quality from high density commercial chicken factories.

Dr. Blue notes that US chicken meat consumption went from 33.7 pounds per person in 1965, to 81.8 pounds per person in 2012. That means that per capita chicken consumption in the USA is 243% higher now than in 1965; an average rate of increase of 1.9% per year; doubling and re-doubling every 37 years. Not lightning fast, but the growth becomes significant over time.

Agri007 notes that the corresponding Canadian figures are 16.88 kg (37 pounds per person) in 1980 and 30.03 kg (66 pounds per person) in 2012, which is a 1.83%/yr average increase, doubling and re-doubling every 38.4 years.  In this regard, Canada is pretty much the same as the USA.

As Blogged previously, this transition toward chicken is likely due to a combined effect:
  • #ChickenMafia propaganda that chicken is "healthier" than other meats
  • Other meats are even more expensive than chicken; so expensive and climbing even further out of reach, so that they become a rare or impossible luxury to a growing number of Canadians.  Soon, the narrowing budgets of most will mean that only the uber rich will be able to afford meat.
With the significant increase in chicken production, multiplied by the intensification of chicken density (ie. going from family farms of the 1950's, to monster chicken factories of today), this has resulted in a huge increase on the environmental loadings and the geographical intensification of the waste and pollution.

Figure 1:  US Environmental Protection Agency maps of
Delmarva Peninsula USA for the nutrients Nitrogen and Phosphorous.
The regions that are coloured deep red are those with the greatest
excess nutrient pollution.
I previously Blogged about that the worst area in the USA for chicken factory farm density and the resulting pollution is the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware and portions of Maryland and Virginia) in the USA.  Delmarva Peninsula where 7% of the US chicken is produced, there are 600 million chickens raised per year which produce 1.5 billion kg of litter containing the chicken manure that must be disposed somewhere.

The Blog of Trappe Landing Farm & Nature Sanctuary  states that the EPA concluded that:

"94% of Delmarva nitrogen pollution comes from chicken production, 59% from grain feed production, and 35% from CAFO chicken house manure."

In other words, the majority of the Delmarva Peninsula pollution comes directly from the chicken factory farms, or the grains grown to feed those chickens.

The Pew Commission (Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, part of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) produced in 2008 the 122 page report on industrial farm animal production (IFAP or factory farms) which included poultry.  It speaks of the societal costs and consequences from the uncaring, jaded production of unhealthy food and environmental devastation.  Pew records the history and future consequences.

The above link gives a good insight on where Canada's #ChickenMafia want to go too, in the near future.

A "CAFO" is a Confined Animal Feeding Operation, which means a chicken factory with tens to hundreds of thousands of chickens.

In May 2008, the Union of Concerned Scientists did an excellent study, "CAFOs Uncovered - The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations" which is available on The Poultry Site.

Dr. Blue notes the algal blooms created, dead lakes, nitrates in drinking water, increased growth of the Pfiesteria piscicida microbe, air pollution, and many other non-sustainable consequences.  For example, excess nitrates in drinking water can lead to the serious medical condition of "Blue Baby Syndrome" from nitrate poisoning of babies.

According to OMAF, there is a limit as low as 750 layers per farm when the Nutrient Management Act ("NMA") could engage.  A "NU" (Nutrient Unit) is produced during the year for every 150 layers.  If a farm has 5 or more NU's, they have to abide by Ontario Regulation 267/03 under NMA.

The question is, how many rural Chief Building Officials are fully aware of this NU and NMA requirement when one of the "Good 'Ol Boys" comes looking for a building permit?  How many of the #ChickenMafia just build without a permit?  Is there 100% compliance to this NMA regulation in all cases?  I can guess that it might be an "ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies" when somebody wants to put up a new "shed".  After all, if you ask too many questions, the shed might not be built, and the municipality loses the tax money.

Recently, Toronto received about 30% of its total income from development charges.  If development were to slow down, many municipalities would be in financial trouble. Attitudes such as, "those government folks down in Toronto will never find out what we're doing back here, so we can do as we please" can have long term consequences.

If a chicken factory owner has all the buildings they need, they still have to meet the NMA regulations once they produce more than 300 NU's per year.  That would be equivalent to 45,000 layers on a year-round basis, which is lower than the average size of factory egg farms in Newfoundland-Labrador, and slightly larger than the average egg factory in the other provinces (see Egg Farmers Annual Report).

That NMA limits is as few as 390,000 broilers per year on a 10 week cycle with 5.2 cycles per year, which is 75,000 broilers per quota cycle. CFO reports that there are 176 chicken factories in Ontario that own 50,000 quota units or more.  This is the largest size category on which CFO reports, and represents 17.5% of all Ontario quota-based chicken farms.

This likely means that all chicken factories are exempt from the requirements of Ontario's Nutrient Management Act.

How convenient.

Wouldn't you know, both the #EggMafia and the #ChickenMafia were "lucky" to escape all or most of the requirements for nutrient management.

It's amazing that the US feels they have a huge problem, but in Canada, there is no problem.  Again, how convenient!

Does anybody remember Walkerton, the people killed, and the hundreds of people who will be chronically ill for the rest of their lives?

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s (ECO) July 2000 special report on intensive farming and groundwater protection, and in the ECO 2001/02 Annual Report, pollution from farms is a contributing factor to many of today’s ground and surface water contamination problems.

Lacieg3s reports:
"Using 1996 data, Statistics Canada estimated that five of the ten areas in Canada that produced the most manure per hectare were in south-western Ontario. The Maitland, Upper Thames and Grand River areas each produced more than 6,000 kilograms of manure per hectare annually; and the Ausable-Bayfield and Saugeen River areas each produced more than 4,000 kilograms per hectare annually. This is in contrast to an annual average per hectare in Canada of 755 kilograms of manure."
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario states:
"The intensification of farming practices can result in considerable environmental damage, damage that must be mitigated and prevented."
So Ontario is a hotbed of farm nutrients, 5.3 times the Canadian average.  Ontario also had Walkerton.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Should the #EggMafia and the #ChickenMafia get an automatic pass on nutrient management?

That's the government's decision, but remember, it's us citizens who get poisoned, and have to live with the environmental degradation.

Alternatively, we can emphasize and transition more and more towards low density, sustainable, and more environmentally friendly small flock farms.

The choice in this matter is solely in the hands of the #ChickenMafia.  Guess which way they'll vote?

You can choose to let the #ChickenMafia continue current course and speed.  Alternatively, you can insist that your MP and MPP take immediate action to re-direct the #ChickenMafia away from their environmental suicide pact with the Devil, or face extinction of Supply Management.

Refuse to drink the #ChickenMafia's Kool-Aid any more.  They added something nasty in it.

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