Local communities fight air pollution from large animal farms
Lack of regulations leaves communities exposed to health and climate risks
With their expansive deck overlooking a pond, Shirley Kidwell and her family used to spend summer days outdoors reading, but the growth of large animal farms in the area has eliminated that pastime. “When that odor hits, you’ve got to go inside and a lot of times we go downstairs to the basement to get away from it,” said Kidwell, the owner of a small farm in Callaway county, Missouri, and the secretary for Friends of Responsible Agriculture, who lives within a mile of a farm with 5,600 hogs. Kidwell and other residents are particularly worried about a new 10,000-hog farm moving to Callaway county. It would be built less than a mile from Kidwell’s home. According to a 2017 report from the office of the inspector general, there are currently 450,000 animal feeding operations in the U.S. The majority contain less than 300 animals, but approximately 18,000 raise thousands of animals. Air pollution from those operations can create numerous respiratory health problems, such as asthma, and contribute to climate change.