Regarding “Maryland Department of Agriculture Accepting Proposals for 2021 Animal Waste Grants” (Oct. 11): As a Maryland resident who is concerned about human health and the impacts of animal agriculture, I was troubled to see that the Maryland Department of Agriculture is continuing to perpetuate a massive environmental health issue while using taxpayers’ dollars to do so. Instead of incentivizing technology that repurposes or treats dangerous animal waste, standardizing and implementing plant-based agriculture that is cost-effective, sustainable, and climate-friendly is the key to a healthier (and more compassionate) planet for all.
Animal agriculture poses serious human health and environmental risks due to animal waste that pollutes the air, land, and water. In fact, 80% of ammonia emissions in the United States come from animal waste, which leads to illnesses, especially for communities near these farms – including right here in Maryland. Furthermore, water used in the industrial farming system is so contaminated with antibiotics, hormones, and bacteria that it cannot be returned to the water system.
To effectively restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding communities from animal agriculture waste and runoff, Senator Cardin, Senator Van Hollen, and Representative Hoyer should support policies that transition animal husbandry farmers to plant-based farming practices. These types of programs would provide options to any farmers interested in exiting livestock production and entering plant-based food or green energy production. Not only is this lucrative to the farmer, but it also creates less need for fertilizer/pesticides, while reducing the risk of pollution and many other human health hazards associated with farming animals.