Fracking and Farming Don’t Mix
By Katherine Boehrer
We already know that fracking threatens human health, the environment, and our communities. But it could also have a negative impact our food system and the farmers who work to feed our nation.
Spills of toxic fracking chemicals can contaminate groundwater and cropland. These leaks could be harmful to livestock as well – last September StateImpact’s Susan Philips reported on a case in Pennsylvania in which 28 beef cattle encountered fracking fluid that seeped out of a holding pond. Those cows gave birth to 11 calves the following spring, but shockingly, only three calves survived. Across the country livestock exposed to toxic fracking chemicals have been killed or sickened.
On top of direct losses, areas that frack could see a lack of consumer confidence in the safety of their food, as news of contamination spreads. They could also see an increase in competition for water from oil and gas companies, as fracking requires millions of gallons of water per well.
Unfortunately, fracking occurs most commonly in rural areas where farmers, faced with tough economic times, have leased their land to oil and gas companies. But these very farmers are also the ones who could bear the burden of lost productivity and devalued property. Yet another reason why the work we are doing to Ban Fracking Now is so important. Learn more about how fracking affects our food system by reading our issue brief, Fracking and the Food System.
Katherine Boehrer is a Food & Water Watch summer communications intern and a junior at Cornell University.