Animal agriculture is one of the top contributors to our most serious environmental problems, producing 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. FIC works with whistleblowers who reveal horrific stories of contamination due to routine factory farm practices.
Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency fined a meat processing plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania $40,000 for allegedly failing to properly pretreat its industrial waste before discharging it to the City's wastewater treatment plant.
Groundwater contamination is a huge problem in animal agriculture. Animals raised on factory farms produce more waste than the human population, and the industry's practice of crowding thousands of animals in a single facility results in too much manure to handle properly! The giant lagoons where untreated urine and manure are stored release hazardous gases (including 80 percent of U.S. ammonia emissions) into the atmosphere and pollute waterways with pathogens, heavy metals and other contaminants.
Whistleblowers are key in raising the alarm when a facility has violated Clean Water Act permits, especially since details on large-scale farms (including location) remain private – even from the federal government. This is appalling, considering the billions of dollars spent around the globe cleaning up Big Ag's mess.
Honest employees at these plants risk a lot when they report environmental violations, facing routine retaliation from their employers for simply doing their job. That's why the FIC team continues to push for stronger whistleblower protections in the meat and poultry industry, where animal waste disrupts ecosystems, kills wildlife, ruins soil quality, and damages crops. Animal agriculture's impact on the surrounding communities reinforces the need for more transparency and accountability that only brave truth-tellers can bring.
Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.