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Lake Algae a threat to pets there humans

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Lake Algae a threat to pets there humans

No Dogs Allowed

You wouldn’t think a game of fetch could be deadly. But earlier this summer, an Indiana couple’s dogs died after fetching balls in an algae-infested lake. There were no warnings posted, and only after the dogs got sick and died did their owners learn the lake was toxic. The lake algae a threat to your pets.

Blue-green algae can be deadly for pets and can cause serious skin and respiratory problems in people. You’ve probably seen some this summer in lakes all across the Midwest and in other parts of the country.

The smelly green mats of algae that plague our lakes are directly linked to how we grow our food. Chemical fertilizer runoff from farmland and manure runoff from livestock operations contribute high levels of phosphorous to the water. This spurs the growth of blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria), especially in hot, dry weather.

Farmers used to rotate their crops and plant cover crops to prevent erosion and keep nutrients in the soil, but practices have changed. Federal policies reward farmers for growing commodity crops like soybeans, as well as corn for livestock feed and, increasingly, ethanol. Continuous production of corn and soybeans with no rotation to hay or pasture depletes the soil, so conventional farmers rely on lots of fertilizer and pesticides.

Organic farmers rotate the kinds of crops we plant, reducing the chance of erosion. Pasture and hay are a vital part of the rotation, protecting the soil, while providing our cattle with the diet they are designed to eat.

But large conventional farms operate differently. Larger livestock operations mean more manure, which can be valuable fertilizer — or a waste product that needs to be dealt with. Often they spread manure too heavily on the land, just to get rid of it.

Our nation’s refusal to reward farmers for practices that protect water quality and penalize those who compromise it is unacceptable.

Those dogs in the algae-filled lake were the proverbial canaries in the coal mine.

I can only imagine how that couple must have felt. As a dairy farmer, my animals mean a lot to me, and losing even one is difficult to accept. But losing two beloved pets must have been brutal, especially when the deaths were so senseless.

Until we make clean water and prudent farming practices a priority, our lakes will continue to spell danger for our dogs and ourselves.

Original Story by;

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wis


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