Due to the U.S. agricultural system’s founding on land stolen from Indigenous people and reliance on the labor of enslaved Africans, environmental resources and burdens — as well as the power to make decisions about the environment — continue to be unequally distributed across communities.
The Food Project seeks to protect the environment and build power in communities where meat megacorporations externalize and concentrate the negative impacts of industrial animal agriculture — often in communities of color. We do this work in collaboration with the communities most directly impacted by the industry’s pollution.
Clean Air and Water
In traditional farming, manure produced by animals serves as fertilizer for their feed. Because industrial animal agriculture concentrates thousands of animals into as little land as possible, it produces an excess of manure that is then mismanaged in ways that pollute the surrounding land, water, and air. Just one industrial-sized hog facility can produce more waste than the entire city of Philadelphia does over the course of a year.
Unlike human waste, animal waste from industrial facilities is not treated. With more manure than can be spread on neighboring fields, manure is stored in enormous open pits commonly referred to as “lagoons.” Waste lagoons housing manure in massive quantities present consistent environmental threats. Manure from these lagoons can overflow during hurricanes and flooding, seep into the ground, and contaminate local groundwater – often the only source of water for rural communities. In some areas, waste is sprayed onto fields, resulting in odors, flies, and dangerous chemicals in the air community members breathe. In the Yakima Valley Dairy cases, the Court found that manure from livestock facilities should be regulated as solid and hazardous waste.