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E-M:/ FW: CAFOs Uncovered, new report from Union of Concerned Scientists



CONTACT: Emily Robinson 202-331-5427







WASHINGTON (April 24, 2007) - Misguided federal farm policies have

encouraged the growth of massive confined animal feeding operations, or

CAFOs, by shifting billions of dollars in environmental, health and

economic costs to taxpayers and communities, according to a report released

today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). As a result, CAFOs now

produce most of the nation's beef, pork, chicken, dairy and eggs, even

though there are more sophisticated and efficient farms in operation.


"CAFOs aren't the natural result of agricultural progress, nor are they the

result of rational planning or market forces," said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a

senior scientist in UCS's Food and Environment Program and author of the

report. "Ill-advised policies created them, and it will take new policies

to replace them with more sustainable, environmentally friendly production



"CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations"

enumerates the policies that have allowed CAFOs to dominate U.S. meat and

dairy production. For example, it found that from 1997 to 2005

taxpayer-subsidized grain prices saved CAFOs nearly $35 billion in animal

feed, which comprises a large percentage of their supply costs. Cattle

operations that raise animals on pasture land do not benefit from the

subsidy. (To read the full report, go to:



The report also details how other federal policies give CAFOs hundreds of

millions of taxpayer dollars to address their pollution problems, which

stem from the manure generated by thousands, if not tens of thousands, of

animals confined in a small area. The report estimates that CAFOs have

received $100 million in annual pollution prevention payments in recent

years through the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which

was established by the 2002 Farm Bill.


"If CAFOs were forced to pay for the ripple effects of harm they have

caused, they wouldn't be dominating the U.S. meat industry like they are

today," said Margaret Mellon, director of UCS's Food and Environment

Program. "The good news is that we can institute new policies that support

animal production methods that benefit society rather than harm it."


Instead of favoring CAFOs, the report recommends that government policies

provide incentives for modern production methods that benefit the

environment, public health and rural communities. The report also shows

that several smart alternative production methods can offer meat and dairy

at prices comparable to CAFO products.


For example, some livestock producers move beef and dairy cattle frequently

to different areas of a pasture, enabling them to spread out manure,

prevent overgrazing, and take advantage of grass as a cost-effective source

of animal feed. Meanwhile, some hog farmers have built hog hoop barns --

open-ended structures with curved roofs -- as an alternative to confining

the animals in cramped buildings.


"Many farmers are succeeding when they work with nature instead of against

it," said Gurian-Sherman. "These savvy producers are proving that hog hoop

barns, smart pasture operations, and other alternative methods can compete

with the massive CAFOs. And that's despite the fact that the cards are

stacked against them."


In addition to steering taxpayer dollars away from CAFOs, the report also

urges Congress to enforce laws that encourage competition so alternative

producers can get their meat and dairy to consumers as easily as CAFOs.

Making CAFOs, rather than taxpayers, pay to prevent or clean up the

pollution they create is also critical, Gurian-Sherman said.


Mellon noted that next week the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal

Production is expected to issue its final report that documents the effects

of intensive animal production on humans, animals, and the environment.

"When taken together," she said, "the two reports paint a grim picture of

CAFOs and make strong, practical recommendations for new policies that can

take us in a new, more efficient direction that will not fleece the

American public."




The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit

organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded

in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has offices

in Berkeley, California, and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to






Emily Robinson

Press Secretary

Union of Concerned Scientists

1825 K St. NW, Suite 800

Washington DC 20006-1232

202-331-5427 (direct)

202-285-6909 (cell)

202-223-6162 (fax)



Doug Gurian-Sherman, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Food and Environment

Union of Concerned Scientists

1825 K Street, NW

Suite 800

Washington, DC 20006-1232

phone: 202-331-5436

fax: 202-223-6162