Which Would You Rather Have: Cheap Cow’s Milk or Clean Drinking Water?

New York’s Governor thinks it’s more important to scratch the dairy industry’s back. Late last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo revealed his plan to roll-back environmental protections for the state’s waterways from pollution from industrial-scale dairy operations.

Water pollution is already a growing problem in New York State because of Cuomo’s cozy relationship with the fracking industry, but apparently the Governor is willing risk yet another stream of waste flowing into New York’s lakes and rivers. The proposal would allow medium-sized Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to operate without a permit, in clear violation of both federal and state law, with the likely result that untreated cow manure will leach into surrounding waters.

Governor Cuomo asserts that eliminating water protection standards will fuel economic expansion in the dairy industry by eliminating the cost of pollution controls, but some of the country’s leading environmental organization says this reasoning is weak at best.

“Our groups have a shared goal of protecting and promoting dairy farming in New York,” reads a statement from a coalition of environmental organizations that include the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Riverkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York, and the Waterkeeper Alliance.  ”Alternatives to the proposed roll-back that will provide both economic and environmental benefit to the state and its dairy industry must be considered before throwing away the standards New Yorkers fought for decades to put in place to protect the waters we use for fishing, swimming, and drinking. The state should support the dairy industry coming into compliance with the law rather than gutting the law to cut corners.”

According to the groups, water contaminated by cow manure can transmit disease-causing bacteria and parasites, as well as causing fish kills and toxic algae blooms. An independent team of experts in agricultural waste management reviewed the proposed rule changes and concluded that without clean water protections, “human health risks are substantial.”  These experts also concluded that the proposed rule changes “would likely result in increased environmental degradation of water, soil and air quality.

The economy is sluggish, and yes, local farmers deserve our attention and support. But that doesn’t mean circumventing laws that were put in place to protect all of us, including family farmers. It certainly doesn’t mean greenlighting the potential spread of fatal diseases in the hopes that a few commercial dairies might be able to make a little more profit. In fact, as the organizations detail in their statement, it’s doubtful that eliminating clean water protections will result in significant expansion of the dairy industry.

One thing we can be sure of: if this proposal moves forward, it won’t be the last. “By attempting to roll-back clean water standards in New York, Governor Cuomo is giving this industry special treatment, a precedent that other polluting industries will seek to take advantage of.”


Related Reading:

Groups Urge Cuomo To Keep Fracking Ban

Do You Want Oil Or Manure In Your Water?

HSUS To Sue Pork Producers Over Pollution


Image via Thinkstock


Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Interesting article

Patsi Hoffstaetter
Patricia rommers4 years ago

It is not only the cows manure that is in the water, we (humans) are just as guilty by polluting the planets ground, air and water.

Julie W.
Julie W4 years ago

Why is the cow manure allowed to pollute the water in the first place? Manure is a valuable resource for organic farmers.

Surely a system could be put in place where it is composted and sold on?

Isabel Araujo
Isabel Araujo4 years ago

Both! Thank you.

B. M.
Bette M4 years ago


Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Donna B.
Donna B4 years ago

First off why do you say it like that: Cheap Cow's Milk?!?! Have you got something against milk? Of course it would have to be water. WE all need water to survive. But WHY should anyone living in The USA have to choose? That's just crazy. And by the way, I love milk. It is good for you and it's NOT just for baby cows!! This is 3rd time I've tried to post this comment. Hope it goes through. Don't know what's wrong. Hope they all don't show up.

Donna B.
Donna B4 years ago

First off, why do you say it like that: Cheap Cow's Milk?!?! Are you against milk or what? Of course the answer has to be water because WE all need water to survive, right? But why should anyone living in The USA have to choose.... Just asking. And I love milk. NOT just for baby cows, NO matter what anyone says!!

Nicole Bergeron
Nicole Bergeron4 years ago

I don't drink cows milk and goat and sheep milk either has it is to expensive or hard to find in my area, I do eat cheese, but they are organic and aged longer than 8 months.
BUT very few humans get enough liquids from plant matter and raw meat/blood (there are tribes in the desert areas that eat raw meat and drink raw blood that give them enough liquid) and humans need liquid to live and for many it means water. Clean water.

Larry: "start drinking Soy Milk, which is good for humans" That is a lie, it's not. It is no more healthy than cow's milk in the end. Some may be able to handle it just like some are able to handle cow's milk (there are people who don't suffer negatively from cow's milk), but many ethnic groups and some not of those ethnic groups are unable to ingest soy without getting sick or dying, and the few ethnic groups that can ingest it shouldn't due to it being GMO now.

Kathleen Marie C.
Kathleen Marie C4 years ago

Good clean water...ahhhhh...perfection! Thank you!

Larry S.
Larry S4 years ago

Clean drinking water! A must! There are plent of others like myself, that don't drink milk, and limit any products that have milk in them.
Milk is not reall good for humans, it's for baby cows (calves)! Any vitamins/minerals in milk are added. You can take these daily if you want as a supplement!
If one were to dig deep enough, I'd bet they would find, that whomever is 'pushing' milk, is probably the one who is making money off it on Wall St.!
So, cut the crap, help reduce the way too many factory farms and start drinking Soy Milk, which is good for humans. What else this might do, by reducing factory farming, it will help reduce air pollution from the methane gas that comes from these farms!
Make a good decision, for the only planet we know of that supports human life!