Friday, October 14, 2016

Matthew's Legacy: Massive Agricultural Pollution, Maybe Higher Meat Prices?

From Mother Jones, this areal photo of a farm
with a manure lagoon swamped by flooding and \
manure flowing into the river was taken by
Rick Dove of the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The floods from last week's Hurricane Matthew continue to devastate large swaths of North Carolina, and it continues to get worse in spots.

River crests are slowly making their way downstream, and more towns and cities are flooding as a result. 

So far, 22 people in North Carolina have died in the flooding.

That's the most tragic part.

Beyond the grieving, the thousands of ruined houses and businesses, and the long cleanup, are other long lasting effects that will affect many people, including some of us far from the flood zone.

The area most affected by the North Carolina flooding has a high concentration of massive chicken and pork farms and producers. Millions of chickens have drowned in the flooding, as have many pigs.

This could raise meat prices across the nation. Paying a little bit extra for meat pales in comparison to the people actually suffering through the floods in North Carolina, but it's still an effect.

Also, according to Mother Jones magazine, the affected chicken and hog farms also had their huge manure lagoons flooded and breached by raging, flooded nearby rivers. That's a major pollution problem to say the least.

Says Mother Jones: 

"Hog manure is loaded with pathogenic bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant ones, antibiotic residues, and plenty of nitrate, with fouls drinking water and also feeds dead zone algae blooms. "

The pollution will likely mostl affect lower income African communities, notes Mother Jones 

The harm will probably be widespread. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused massive flooding in the same chicken and hog farm location as Matthew hit. Back in 1999, the resulting flooding and manure pollution created a 350 square mile dead zone in coastal estuaries.

It's too soon to say whether the pollution will be as bad as Floyd in 1999, but the fact that there are more chicken in hog farms in the flood zone than back then, and the flooding is very severe this time, it doesn't bode well.

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