When Lower Taxes is Not a Good Thing

David and Renee Leifheit of Chana, Illinois won a victory, of sorts, in having their property taxes lowered. They successfully argued that living in close proximity to a factory farming operation, or CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) as they are called, reduced the value of their property. The reduction was negotiated at 12 ½ percent.

Think about this, if you had property valued at $300,000 when a CAFO moved in, you’ve just lost $37,500, yet the owners of the CAFO that created the problem don’t lose a dime. The losers are the property owners and the state tax coffers.

Exactly how does living near a CAFO affect property values? Aside from the smell of manure, which would clearly discourage anyone from wanting to buy the property in the first place, that same manure can leach into the groundwater where it pollutes our streams and rivers. Animal waste attracts flies, which reproduce at an incredible rate and don’t simply stay put, they fly elsewhere, creating health hazards for those who live close by. Particulate matter from animal waste gets into the air and can cause respiratory problems. Some studies even suggest repeated exposure to the particulates can cause lung cancer.

Aside from the obvious pollution, the trucks that roll in and out of CAFOs damage the roads, local jobs are often lost and statistics show that the rates of violent crime are higher in areas where CAFOs operate.

So despite the tax reduction, there is no victory here. In fact, if there is a winner, it’s the CAFO owners. They drive down property values, damage the environment, raise their animals in crowed and often inhumane conditions, and ignore workers’ welfare. Our government is unable to do much about it, so it is up to you, the consumer, to take action.

If everyone just stopped eating animals, CAFOs would no longer exist. But because this is an unrealistic goal, the next best thing consumers can do is only purchase animal products from smaller farms where the animals have been allowed to freely roam, fed only the foods that are natural to them, and are humanely killed.

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