Last May, several environmental groups along with the EPA and other bureaucratic powers came to a settlement to gather more information from factory farms. This article gives all of the details and it sounds like they are moving at least in the right direction as far as monitoring CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). This bulk of the settlement involved gathering information on what CAFOs are doing with their waste.
The EPA defines CAFOs to contain one of the following: 700 dairy cows; 1,000 veal calves; 1,000 cattle; 2,500 swine weighing than 55 pounds or 10,000 swine weighing less than 55 pounds; 10,000 sheep or lambs; 55,000 turkeys; and between 30,000 and 125,000 chickens.
Sewage from factory farms has been linked to various “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay. Dead zones are oxygen-deficient pockets of water and factory farms have contributed to these due to sewage and waste runoff into streams, rivers, and eventually the aforementioned bodies of water. The dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay last year was estimated to be around 6,600 square miles, and runs from north of Washington DC and winds south for approximately 70 miles along the Bay. As for the Gulf of Mexico, the dead zone along with the oil spill have been a huge blow to their nearly $700 million fish and shellfish industry.
CHESAPEAKE BAY from 2010
GULF OF MEXICO from 2010
These sound like good measures that the EPA and others are enacting but I still wish we would move more towards locally grown, small scale farming operations.