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FACTORY FARMS - Impact On Our Communities
FACTORY FARMS - Factory farms, officially called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), make the worst possible neighbors. People forced to live close to CAFOs have reported becoming sick from the toxic gases which are produced by decomposing animal waste. Simple things like spending a summers day or night outside a family dwelling, or having the windows open for fresh air have become a thing of the past due to the stench from CAFOs which even if they are miles away can be overwhelming. Residents who live near CAFOs have reported an increase in pest infestations, which include rodents and swarms of flies. Families which once enjoyed hosting back yard picnics or other family events have admitted that their friends, and other family members often refuse to visit them anymore because the smell is so unbearable.
Many times though it's much more than the intolerable smell that has a direct impact on rural communities. Manure from CAFOs, and even worse the use of Biosolids (Processed Human Waste) when not applied correctly will run-off causing contaminates to be spread into nearby streams, rivers, and lakes that were once recreation centers and tourist destinations.

Over application of manure or biosolids on fields near residences also have been proven to contaminate their well water, threatening the health of anyone coming into contact with the water. Once well water has been contaminated with biosolids, which contain heavy metals, pharmaceutical waste, and more, a resident who tries to sell their house must disclose the fact that their well water is tainted, and rendered unfit for human consumption, or bathing use. 
CAFOs take a tremendous economic toll on communities. It has been proven that even if a property still has useable well water the value of their land has plummeted whenever a CAFO moves in. It has become more widespread that property owners living near CAFOs have field property tax appeals and won in court, which demonstrates that their homes and properties did in fact lose significant value due to these industrial-scale facilities. All CAFOs entice communities with the promise of increased tax revenue, but when falling values of the properties which surround these CAFOs it negates any promised increase.

Communities not only will lose income when CAFOs move in, they are forced to increase expenditures on the development and maintenance of infrastructure, especially roads and bridges which will become broken down and stressed by the continual use of CAFO truck traffic. When a CAFO shuts down, and the facts prove that they do, communities are then left with depressed economics, low property values, costly and often irreparable environmental damage, plus vacant super sized structures which are left to clutter the land.

CAFOs are unlike traditional family owned and operated farms, which purchase feed supplies, and building materials from local suppliers. CAFOs typically purchase everything from outside of their local communities while paying their workers a very low wage. Because local residents are rarely willing to work for the dismal pay CAFOs offer, these facilities have been proven to bring in and encourage low-wage workers to move into these communities. Consequently, CAFOs provide little to no stimulus for local economies, while imposing prohibitive costs. Whenever CAFOs come in, family farms are driven out of business, and when family farms and the good jobs they provide disappear, rural main streets become nothing more than ghost towns. 
CAFOs are a resource extraction industry, which drain the wealth from communities and leave behind polluted water, foul air, broken roads, and sick residents. The only ones who benefit from CAFOs are their CEOs and corporate shareholders, whose pockets are lined with profits reaped from polluting the environment, paying workers unfair wages, taking advantage of local farmers, and devastating rural economics.
Rural Organizations That Do Good Work 

The Center for Rural Affairs is a non-profit works to establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunities for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities.

The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is an organization that has been working for family farms, a healthy environment, and vibrant rural communities since 1923. One of the oldest faith-based organizations of its type, they continue to oppose the industrialization of agriculture and factory farms while promoting sustainable agriculture.

Articles and Reports We Recommend Reading

The Questions Rural Communities Should Ask About CAFOs  
After meeting with rural residents in the U.S. and Canada for 10 years and reviewing CAFO research data from a wide variety of sources, University of Missouri Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics and SRAP Board Member John E. Ikerd determined that there is not a single instance of a community experiencing economic prosperity when CAFOs represent a significant segment of the local economy. This paper discusses his findings.

CAFO Impact on Value of Proximate Properties
This report provides a detailed analysis of the negative impacts of CAFOs on property values. It evaluates a reduction in the appraised value of certain real estate in Illinois stemming from its location near a hog CAFO. It was written by Dr. John A. Kilpatrick, a certified appraiser with Greenfield Advisors LLC. In the report, Dr. Kilpatrick references an article he authored in The Appraisal Journal in 2001 entitled “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Proximate Property Values,” which found that CAFOs can cause surrounding properties to lose 50% to 90% of their value. An abstract of his article is available here.

Evidence for Property Devaluation Due to the Proximity to CAFOs
This paper by Dr. William Weida explains that the major reason CAFOs are constructed in a given region is that the area has a reputation for loose environmental regulations and lax enforcement of those regulations. The stricter environmental regulations and enforcement become, the more likely it is that CAFOs will locate elsewhere.

Final Report of Impact to Property Values by Chicken Operation in Colorado
This report analyzes the economic impact to property values of real estate located in proximity to a CAFO. In this report, Dr. John A. Kilpatrick, a certified real estate appraiser with Greenfield Advisors LLC, details the impact to both the value and marketability of properties located nearby or surrounding a chicken CAFO. In this report, property value impacts are estimated to be as high as 88% for homes immediately adjacent to the CAFO