Factory Dairy Farms Have Excessive Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carcinogen Emissions Due to Long Trucking Distances for Forage Crop and Waste Transport
Factory dairy farms have extremely high greenhouse gas emissions and carcinogen emissions due to several energy use factors. The magnitude of these emissions are such that any greenhouse gas emissions reductions that might be associated with use of rBGH fall far short of making factory dairy farming a healthy and sustainable form of food production. The greenhouse gas emissions and carcinogen emissions per unit of milk produced are higher for factory dairy farms than for small, traditional dairy farms.
Confining large numbers of diary cows in one location requires transportation of very large quantities of forage crops. On small, traditional dairy farms, cattle graze on pasture during the growing season.. The feed that is consumed via pasturing of dairy cattle does not require a diesel fuel input to transport the feed to the cattle. Forage crop transportation fuel input for factory dairy farms is especially large due to the distances that must be driven to truck forage crops from many miles away to the factory dairy farm location. The transportation distances are longer for factory dairy farms because larger acreages are required to produce the quantities of forage crops required to feed the larger number of cattle on the factory farm. These distances are much longer than the distances that forage crops were transported on small, traditional dairy farms. When relatively small numbers of cattle are being fed at a particular location, the smaller quantity of forage crop that is required to feed these cattle can be produced in an area that has a shorter radius than is the case for the larger scale factory dairy farms. Long distance trucking of forage crops to factory dairy farms results in the combustion of vast quantities of diesel fuel. The emissions from combustion of this fuel include very large quantities of greenhouse gases as well as carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene and formaldehyde.
Factory dairy farming involves the transportation of vast quantities of animal wastes mixed with water from the factory dairy farm to fields where the wastes are applied to the soil. The small, traditional dairy farms did not mix water with the cow wastes and thus less waste per cow was transported. Additionally, much of the waste was distributed by the animals themselves on the pasture lands with no combustion of diesel fuel required. Any waste transportation that was conducted on small, traditional dairy farms involved relatively short hauling distances. It is the large number of cattle kept in a particular location that makes necessary the long hauling distances for waste disposal. Large quantities of waste must be disposed of on larger acreages than small quantities of waste. This means that waste from large factory dairy farms is transported farther than waste from small, traditional dairy farms. Moving waste further increases diesel fuel combustion, which results in larger greenhouse gas emissions and larger carcinogen emissions.