The Earth's Open Wounds
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from

All of God's creatures have rights, a fact that most people don't seem to recognize. This includes both human and non-human animals, but not all of them can speak for themselves. As we continue to disregard the value of the lives of the billions of animals we eat, we also are destroying our air, land and water.

March 2015

Agribusiness "lagoons" routinely burst, sending millions of gallons of manure into waterways and spreading microbes that can cause gastroenteritis, fevers, kidney failure, and death.

From above, the red and purple shapes look like gaping wounds on the planet’s surface. And, as it happens, that is exactly what they are. Agribusiness calls them “lagoons,” which conjure up images of pristine bodies of water, but they’re actually cesspools filled with the toxic waste of tens of thousands of animals.

Agribusiness describes their cesspools as “lagoons.” Pictured on the top, an actual lagoon and under that an image of an agribusiness "lagoon"...

agribusiness lagoons

agribusiness lagoons

On factory farms, owners pump the animal waste from their sheds and feedlots into these man-made cesspools. Some of the sludge, which is filled with nitrates, antibiotics, bacteria and other toxins, seeps into the groundwater consumed by area residents who pump their water from wells. Most of it, however, is sprayed into the air, wreaking havoc on the communities that surround them. People who live near factory farms say that airborne liquid waste makes them sick; contaminates their drinking water; and prevents them from being able to go outside and open their windows.

agribusiness lagoons
Agribusinesses spray animal sludge into the air to make space in the cesspools for more waste

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “lagoons routinely burst, sending millions of gallons of manure into waterways and spreading microbes that can cause gastroenteritis, fevers, kidney failure, and death.” A study published in January concluded that surface water near North Carolina factory farms is, in fact, contaminated. According to University of North Carolina professor Steve Wing, researchers “have evidence of pig-specific bacteria in surface waters, next to industrial swine operations.”

agribusiness lagoons
Waste lagoon at “Judy’s Family Farm” in Sonoma Valley, California (photo: Factory Farming Awareness Coalition)

Like the factory farms themselves, the cesspools are hidden from public view. But, in 2014, Mark Devries, the director of the documentary film Speciesism, flew a drone over pork producer Smithfield Foods, exposing millions of people to a behemoth cesspool and its impact on the people who live in the community and the environment.

Ag gag laws, which criminalize the taking of photos and video on factory farms, have and will continue to compromise the ability to document these cesspools. In 2013, a National Geographic photographer was arrested for trespassing while taking photos of a feedlot in Kansas from a paraglider.

agribusiness lagoons
U.S. animal rights groups are fighting “ag-gag” bills

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