Le problème avec les fermes porcines

L'établissement des fermes porcines dans nos communautés détruisent le tissu social et l'environnement de la région. 

De plus, les impacts sur la santé, l'environnement et l'économie locale sont inimaginables. 

L'épandage du lisier sur les terres agricoles avoisinantes combinés avec la contamination des nappes d'eau phréatiques par les lagunes déféctueuses sont les principaux facteurs contribuants à la pollution du bassin versant entourant la méga ferme.

The Problem of Hog Factories

Neil Gardner
Executive Committee 
Atlantic Canada Chapter Sierra Club
December 2005

og factories destroy the social fabric and the environment of the area in which they situate themselves. They produce little or no positive economic benefit to the area - often creating only one or two long-term jobs at the expense of many more previously existing ones. They are generally a ten to fifteen year project, after which, the owners, having paid off the barn and realized a handsome return on their investment (often at the public trough), will realize that they have worn out their welcome, and call in the midnight movers. At this point, even the most ardent supporters will want them removed and be supportive of laws to prevent this Wild West of unregulated development. So, it's pack the bags and head for the next unsuspecting environmentally unregulated province or country. At the moment, the destination of choice appears to be Latin America and Eastern Europe. After all, a hog factory isn't quite as bad as Chernobyl.

(Photo: Neil Gardner)

What are the impacts on the community?

Emissions from hog factories have been shown to be a cause of respiratory problems as well as mental stressors. A study by the University of North Carolina as well as studies done in P.E.I. and Iowa all show increases in respiratory disorders of up to 60 percent among residents living within four miles of a hog factory. Hydrogen sulphide, one of the main ingredients of the emissions from the factory, has been proven, even in relatively low concentrations, to cause brain damage and intellectual degradation, especially in children. Ammonia, another major component of the emissions, is known to be dangerous to human health. Leaks of this gas have resulted in people being evacuated from their homes. Methane, yet another emission from the factory, is ten times more damaging to the ozone layer than carbon dioxide.

(Photo: Neil Gardner)

The majority of the people are usually against the project. 

Smell, which affects wide areas around the factory, in some cases hundreds of square kilometres: 

  • Prevents enjoyment of property. It is impossible to eat outdoors in the summer, to use an air conditioner at night, or to enjoy outside activities when the smell is present. 
  • Devalues property. Experience across Canada and in the U.S. shows a devaluation of property of 20 to 30 percent in areas within the "stink zone".
  • Splits apart the community. Usually a few farmers support the project, believing that the manure is of value to them, others will refuse the manure after weighing the possible benefits and the known disadvantages. The majority of the people are usually against the project leading to rifts both within the community as a whole and within the farming community.

Many young people, as if they needed further reason, will leave the area and not return, leading to the further depopulation of the rural part of the country. Often the local citizens, if they try to defend themselves against this intrusion into their environment, will be subject to legal attacks, known as SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Protest). These are legal actions that are intended to force the public in the area to give in and accept the inevitability of the hog factory. Unfortunately, in many cases, the citizens do give in. These battles are long and hard. The enemy usually has strong political connections and very deep pockets.

Tourism and hog factories do not mix. The odours will send the tourists running, never to return. Who would spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars to breathe noxious toxic fumes? The golf course in Bouctouche, near a local hog factory, lost many season ticket holders and in some cases golfers would abandon the course due to the all-pervasive stink.

Lagoons, are they doing their job?

Ground water contamination is a common problem with earthen lagoons and, in fact, even when designed to the highest standards they will leak. As well, there have been numerous cases of earthen lagoons breaching, releasing their contents  into           surrounding rivers and lakes as well as contaminating local wells. Even concrete lagoons, while somewhat safer, can overflow in severe weather and the concrete has been known to crack and disintegrate causing leaching into the groundwater.

Fisheries, often already at risk, will disappear along with any ancillary jobs in the packing plants. The manure getting into the rivers will cause algae blooms which rob the water of the oxygen needed by the fish to survive and can cause Pfisteria piscidia, a bacteria that causes large skin lesions on both humans and fish, and can lead to death.

Sharing of the stinky resource…

Liquid manure spreading can be a serious problem, especially when rules and recommendations are not followed. Spreading in the rain will cause the manure to flow into surrounding waterways causing toxic algae blooms and leading to fish kills. The Neuse River in North Carolina is a classic example of this phenomenon at its extreme. Here, literally billions of fish were killed as a result of hog factory lagoons overflowing into the river as well as unregulated spreading from the factories in the vicinity. In many cases the manure is spread by automatic sprinklers that often run unmonitored, indiscriminately spreading over all kinds of terrain and in all kinds of weather.

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