For the first time, the 25 million animals confined in factory “farms,” together with the U.S. Great Lake contaminated by their waste, will speak directly to Ohioans in a provocative, hard-hitting billboard and social media ad campaign centered in Toledo and including Cleveland and Columbus.

Through early October, five rotating ads (attached) will appear a total of over 100,000 times on high-visibility electronic boards and social media platforms, sponsored by Lake Erie Advocates. The duration of the campaign includes when the Solheim Cup, an international women’s golf championship, is played in Toledo.

“For six years we researched Toledo’s 2014 toxic algae water crisis and listened to politicians say they were doing something. For four years, we’ve been in federal court, trying to get the U.S. EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act. Two years ago, Toledoans overwhelmingly passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and the courts overruled it,” said Mike Ferner, LEA coordinator.

“We learned the regulations are empty and politicians’ feel-good solutions are part of the problem. There is no ‘fixing’ the devastation caused by this appalling, unsustainable industry. The only solution is to ban it. Nothing ever changes until you start talking about it and that’s what we’re doing now. When enough people demand we abandon this failed system, real farmers will once again provide our milk, meat and eggs – just like they did a mere 20 years ago until this industry drove them off the land. Then Lake Erie will heal itself. Just watch.”      

Research LEA conducted last year found that 24,795,000 animals confined in over 800 factory “farms” in the Western Lake Erie watershed excrete as much Phosphorus in their feces and urine as 21,665,000 humans, or the combined populations of Ohio, Indiana, Chicago and Atlanta. The waste, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria and hormones is spread, untreated, on farm fields that drain into Lake Erie’s western basin.

A national campaign coordinated by Food and Water Watch supports the Farm System Reform Act to enact a moratorium and phase out existing facilities. The legislation has significant shortcomings but is an indication of the growing opposition to factory “farms” as some 300 advocacy groups signed a letter of support.

Note: The glass of green water is from an iconic photograph published nationally and internationally during and since Toledo’s 2014 water crisis.