An Environmental Disaster

   A recent report from Wisconsin indicates 54 Wisconsin dairy farms sold out in June (2018), bringing the yearly total to 338. Although the report did not specify, it seems safe to believe it is small, family-farm type daries being dispersed.

    It’s sad to see the demise of the small dairy farms.  Back in the day, small dairies of 40 to 60 cows were the backbone of the industry.  One family could grow and harvest crops,  tend the cattle, and do the milking. They were an al;most perfect example of a cycle of nature, wherein crops were fed to animals and the manure recycled to the land to grow more crops. Those small farms had little environmentyl impact.

    After World War II everything changed. That’s when war-time munition plants began switching to agricultural products—NPK fertilizers, and other highly toxic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides..  Feeding antibiotics allowed the assembly of large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s)  to gain “efficiency of scale”.  To keep up with the post-war boom economy, dairy farmers were advised to,  “Get big, or get out” — starting a trend that has resulted in the rise of huge mega-dairy operations containing thousands of cows. 

    As an example of the ill effects of mega dairies, consider the    plight of Lost Valley Farm, the second largest  fairy in Oregon.   Started in the spring of 2017, it is owned by Greg te Velde, and funded by Rabobank, a Dutch agriculture lender.  

Manure Lagoon

   From the start, te Velde failed to conform to regulations and was cited for improper waste management practices resulting in contamination of adjacent groundwater and nearby wells. His waste management permit was revoked and he was given 60 days to remove 13,000 cows and 75-acre feet (approximately 24.4 million gallons), of manure and wastewater from his lagoons.  Earlier, te Velde agreed to disperse his cattle, but one day befoe the sale he filed for bankruptcy effectively putting everything on hold.  The dairy is now for sale priced at $95 million.

Mega Dairy

    Te Velde owns two other failing dairies in California, and is facing foreclosure from Rabobank.  Te Velde is currently receiving treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab clinic. It was not specified if he entered the clinic before or after this disaster. 

Bottom line:  Any assembly of a mega-number of animals in one area is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.  The profitability of mega-livestock operations depends on raping the environment.  When forced to pay the damages, bankruptcy results. 

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