Environmental groups want tighter restrictions on farm pollution

By Alex Davis | adavis@wcia.com

Published 02/20 2014 05:51PM

Updated 02/20 2014 06:28PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois' factory farms are coming under fire. Environment Illinois says these farms are contaminating the water supply. Leaders are asking state officials to take up new regulations on these operations. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol by visiting a Contained Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).

The owner of a medium livestock farm just outside of town says manure is a natural waste which isn't all that threatening. But, that's not what environmental groups want to hear.

"These operations can cause serious damage to our ecosystems, all over the state."

Livestock farmers say they're growing tired of getting dumped on.

"We don't have free range anymore. I mean, the animals, we can't just spread them over 20 acres and let them loose."

Environment Illinois is raising concerns over livestock farms.

"I really just want to make sure that people know the threats that these industrial operations are posing to our environment and to our health."

The group says CAFO's should face tougher restrictions. They want to force them to get water pollution permits and change how they apply manure to land.

"Those are all natural-occurring bacterias."

Dan Henebry raises cattle near Springfield. He doesn't know why operations like his should be a concern.

"It's just a natural organic fertilizer for plant to consume and grow."

He says he does what he can to keep large amounts of manure and waste water under control.

"You just want to prevent it from being an overwhelming situation or prevent it from being a toxic situation where you get too much in at one time."

Just this week alone, he's been spreading hay into his feed lot to absorb moisture.

"You know, most of the time, during the summer, all my cattle are out there on the pasture. They're eating grass and spreading it out across the whole thing and it's breaking down and fertilizing."

He thinks his practices are good enough since farmers have been doing it for generations. Henebry says he understands what environmental groups are trying to do, but says further restrictions could deter farmers from staying in the field.

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