CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio – When it’s time to remove the manure from his three barns, dairy farmer Andy
Miedema doesn’t reach for a shovel.
He flushes the barns three times a day with a 10,000-gallon flood of brown water. The manure
flows to a trench that leads to a system to filter out the solids, two 11-million-gallon lagoons
and an irrigator that fertilizes nearby fields.
This isn’t your grandfather’s dairy farm. It’s built for mass production, where 1,000 cows
produce 8,000 gallons of milk per day.
Environmental-advocacy groups call such places “factory farms” and warn that the manure is a
pollution threat to nearby streams. Farming advocates and Ohio agriculture officials call them
“concentrated animal-feeding operations” and say there are no pollution risks if they are managed
“It doesn’t matter what size of operation you have,” Miedema said. “You can have a small
operation and make mistakes, too.”
Ohio has 173 large livestock farms that operate under state Department of Agriculture
regulations. Such farms have at least 1,000 head of cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 pigs or 82,000