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Many people think of CAFOs in a negative way.  I will admit that even I have lost myself in all the research pointing to the dark side of concentrated animal feeding operations.

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However I recently attended an event at Pace University at which Dr. Sam Simon, president of Hudson Valley Fresh, was the guest speaker.  During this event Dr. Simon made me realize that not all CAFOs are the same.

In the Hudson Valley Fresh Company they have a total of 9 dairy farms working to produce milk here in New York.  Two are large enough to be considered CAFOs.  According to Dr. Simon, CAFOs are more closely regulated and are typically inspected twice a month, while dairy farms are inspected every time milk is being sold.  If a dairy farm’s tank of milk is tested positive for antibiotics, the farmer must purchase all of the milk in that tank and gets a fined. By the third fine, a farmer can be practically out of business.

Recently Governor Andrew Cuomo reduced the regulations and permit requirements for dairy farms so that farms with 300 cows or more would be considered a CAFO rather than the original standard of 200 cows.  Dr. Simon believes that “CAFO farms are a friend to the cow” and that the farms we should be concerned about are those that are now “flying under the radar” with these new regulations. Because of deregulation, farms that have less than 300 cows are not required to satisfy as many requirements for protecting the environment and animal welfare.

Dr. Simon added that livestock on a CAFO are not able to graze in pasturelands, if such large herds were let out to graze, the environment would be damaged.   “Imagine 300 cows stomping around,” he said, adding that there soon wouldn’t be anything left to graze.

The bottom line is that not all CAFO-size operations treat animals poorly or inject them with antibiotics to make them produce more.  Yes, there are some bad CAFOs out there but that doesn’t qualify for everyone.

It’s our job to attempt to differentiate between the good and bad CAFOs and continue pressing to maintain regulations that prevent more farms from tipping toward the dark side.

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