Drone Footage Reveals Massive, Toxic Manure ‘Lagoons’ at Factory Farms. This one is bigger than 4 football fields and spoiler alert; there are over 2,000 of them in North Carolina alone.
Since 2012, Mark Devries has been flying drones over America’s largest factory farms. In just-released aerial footage, he reveals the sheer size of the massive, toxic, feces-filled “lagoons” that they create.
Those lagoons you’re looking at belong to Smithfield Foods, which bills itself as is “the largest pork producer and processor in the United States.” They are often hundreds of feet long, and are fetid cesspools of waste—they are the result of pig excrement being sprayed out of the compounds where the animals are packed in like dirt-encrusted, antibiotics-loaded sardines.
These factory farms make it exceedingly difficult to see the giant, open-air cesspools of toxic waste on their property,” Devries tells me in an email. “They are surrounded by trees, and often barbed-wire fences. With drones, I can bypass the trees and barbed wire, and see close-up what is being hidden.”
What he did end up seeing repulsed him, he said.
“Even though I knew what to expect in the abstract, I was shocked by the sheer size of these open-air pits of toxic waste—they can stretch on for the surface area of several football fields.
Factory farms are quickly becoming one of the hardest places to photograph in the nation. The sprawling operations—which cram an enormous number of pigs, chickens, and cows into cramped quarters for harvesting—have responded to animal rights critics by pushing for state-level “ag-gag” bills that prevent journalists and activists from photographing their grounds.
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