Drone Footage Shows Us Just How Disgusting Factory Farm Waste Is

It might be nice to envision farm animals romping in open fields of fresh grass under the sun, but modern farming practices that have resulted in the creation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, more commonly known as CAFOs or factory farms, means that not only is there no freedom for these animals, but that there a lot of waste is coming from a lot of animals who are being kept in smaller and smaller spaces.

In some cases, thousands of animals are kept behind the walls of otherwise inconspicuous looking buildings, but the harder these farms try to hide what they’re doing, the more curious we are getting about it.

Last week, Mark Devries, who also directed Speciesism: The Movie, released video footage taken with a drone that really puts the waste problem into perspective.

Devries explains that he’s been using drones since 2012 to expose the environmental problems with factory farming and that in this case, the drone he used was flown over a subdivision of Smithfield Foods, Inc. that raises pigs in North Carolina.

Not only does the video show the scale of the waste that comes out of these facilities, but also the problems with the way we’ve been disposing of it. Feces and urine are collected underneath these facilities before being flushed out into huge lagoons. There they sit before being sprayed onto “sprayfields” of crops.

Smithfield has become by far the nationís largest pork producer, while North Carolina has moved up to second place behind Iowa for pork production. As of last year, there were an estimated 9-10 million hogs on North Carolina farms, while a single hog can produce four to eight time the amount of waste a human does.

“I was shocked,” Devries told the International Business Times. “Pig manure is fairly similar to human waste, so it would be similar to having a pit of untreated human sewage the size of several football fields out in the open — and in many cases, right in the vicinity of people’s homes.”

Steve Wing, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, who was featured in the video calls it environmental racism. These farms are primarily located near minority and low income communities in the state who are left with no protection and little means to fight large corporations that are making it literally rain toxic waste on them.

While the smell alone is unbearable for local residents, the waste from these farms also produces a number of gases including methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. Almost a decade ago, the trouble at Smithfield, and hog farms in North Carolina, was covered in an†in-depth article written by Jeff Tietz for Rolling Stone. Tietz deftly weaves together the environmental and health problems linked with industrialized hog production that were alarming then and should have led to more changes by now.

Citing epidemiological studies that show that those who live near hog lagoons suffer from abnormally high levels of depression, tension, anger, fatigue and confusion, he further goes into how this waste has deadly effects on and the health of nearby rivers, watersheds and aquatic ecosystems. Other older studies have also shown that people living close to these facilities have suffered from health issues including headaches, runny noses, sore throats, excessive coughing, respiratory problems, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and burning eyes.

For people who say there are more important things to worry about than animals, footage like this once again illustrates that their treatment and use go hand in hand with our health and well-being.

Devries, however, isn’t the only one taking to the sky to expose how factory farming is hurting us and animals. This summer independent journalist Will Potter also successfully raised over $75,000 in just a few days on Kickstarter for work that will continue to expose what farms are trying to hide with drones and to address ag gag laws that are intended to punish whistleblowers.

Hopefully as we’re made more aware not only of the injustices being inflicted on millions of farm animals every day, but also how animal agriculture is hurting us and the environment, more people will continue to make compassionate choices that will shut down the demand for animal products.

For more info on these types of investigations, visit FactoryFarmDrones.com and Green is the New Red.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

115 comments

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

CAFOs should be banned!

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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John S.
John S2 years ago

One of the reasons I gave up pork this year after giving up beef several years ago.

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Christopher P.
Christopher P2 years ago

@ Dennis

Remember, they were here first.

"The world, we are told, was made especially for man - a presumption not supported by all the facts…Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?" ~ John Muir

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Christopher P.
Christopher P2 years ago

@ Dennis

Exploitation is a lie.

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Dennis D.
Dennis D2 years ago

And you should know about that Christopher.. Because it as much how the facoty farms raise livestock as it does plants..

Industrial agriculture practices
http://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/food-agriculture/our-failing-food-system/industrial-agriculture#.VKMblfldUrU

As I will repeat you as I did on another thread. There is much common ground that we both could work together on these issues.. I know you will never want to work with a non vegan. Which makes you the problem as well.

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Christopher P.
Christopher P2 years ago

Correction: human exceptionalism/greed...

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Christopher P.
Christopher P2 years ago

@ Darren

I agree. Human greed plays a significant role as well.

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Darren Woolsey
Darren Woolsey2 years ago

Desensitization is actually far more common and affects more people than any disease you'd care to mention.

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Christopher P.
Christopher P2 years ago

@ Dennis

Desensitization to violence/exploitation is such a deadly force. Those who embrace it only make matters worse.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/cruel-things-done-to-farm-animals/

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