On Monday, March 6th at 8:00 am, Senate Bill 85, will be heard in Oregon’s House on Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water.
SB 85 will enact a freeze on permitting new and expanding factory farms until 2031, require the Department of Agriculture to address harmful impacts of factory farms and report to the Natural Resource Committee. This bill is imperative to the betterment of the climate, health and wellbeing of all communities in Oregon.
A factory farm is a facility that raises large numbers of animals in intensive confinement, while concentrating the animals and their manure. The waste from these facilities leaks harmful nitrates and other contaminants into the environment, including the air and drinking water of nearby communities. The large quantities of waste concentrated on factory farms release airborne particulate matter linked to asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases — nationwide, factory farm air pollution is responsible for more than 12,000 premature deaths every year.
In Oregon, agriculture is a leading source of methane emissions which contribute to the climate crisis. A moratorium on the expansion of factory farms will further our commitment to protecting the health of all communities in Oregon. SB 85 is an opportunity to take a stand against industrial polluters and put a stop to further pollution in our state’s precious water and air.
Take Action: submit your testimony to support SB 85. Written testimony is accepting until 48 hours after the hearing (meaning it’s due by 8:00 am on Wednesday, March 8th). Don't have time to write testimony? You can sign on to our collective testimony here!
Possible talking points include:
Water Pollution: When animals are kept in large, high-density factory farms a large amount of waste is accumulated. Often the amount of waste far exceeds the capacity of nearby farmland to absorb and is disposed of by moving the waste into open or covered pits (cesspools) or manure lagoons which leak nitrates into the groundwater threatening the drinking water of nearby communities. Strong evidence points to a relationship between drinking nitrate contaminated water and colorectal cancer, thyroid disease, neural tube defects and infant methemoglobinemia, commonly known as blue baby syndrome.
Air Pollution: The air pollution is categorically toxic and includes particles, volatile organic compounds, and gasses such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. A recent study documented that airborne emissions from livestock production are responsible for 12,700 deaths per year in the United States. Studies have shown that living near factory farms can increase the risk of community acquired pneumonia and clinically documented asthma exacerbations.
Risk Associated with Antibodies: Pathogens in manure such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli are capable of causing severe gastrointestinal disease, complications and sometimes death in humans. The pathogens become particularly dangerous when factory farms administer antibiotics at levels too low to treat disease and the create antibiotic-resistant pathogens. There is scientific consensus that antibiotics administered to food animals contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans. In the US antibiotics are administered to animals at nearly twice the intensity as all of the livestock industries in 30 European countries.
Dangerous to the Environment: Each year livestock emits 7.1 Gigatonnes of Co2-equiv per year, which is 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Cattle make up 9% of total livestock emissions. In Oregon, agriculture is a leading source of methane emissions. Climate change affects us all and has a disproportionate impact on low-income and BIPOC communities.