Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Thu, Kendall M., 1960-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Environmental justice; Animal sciences; Social research; Public policy; Factory farms--Political aspects--Illinois; Factory farms--Environmental aspects--Illinois; Factory farms--Moral and ethical aspects--Illinois; County government--Moral and ethical aspects--Illinois; Agriculture and state--Social aspects--Illinois


Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are rapidly expanding in rural Illinois. This research explores the political power linkages between county boards and corporate entities in four Illinois counties. The hypothesis is that collusion and impropriety within county board politics and CAFO expansion in rural Illinois are attributed to stakeholder influence and power at the local county government level. My research revealed a connection between ownership of CAFOs, county board political power, and endorsement of expansion. Utilizing Walter Goldschmidt's method of a controlled comparison, the research analyzes two CAFO inundated counties (Pike and Adams) with two less affected counties (LaSalle and Peoria).;Considering the political nature of the research, data collection was forced into engaging secondary text sources to study up, down, and sideways on local government officials. The documents analyzed were public information meeting transcripts, county board meeting transcripts, municipal meeting transcripts, plat maps, public websites, and Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIAs). FOIAs were obtained through government entities and other confidential sources. Citizens are distressed by the proliferation of CAFOs. Through interviews, participant observation, field notes, and archival work, the research indicates that people have knowledge that social stratification is much greater in counties with CAFO proliferation. Citizens that have CAFOs built in close proximity to their property are angered by the permitting system. Considering the amount of pollution and social degradation connected to rapid expansion from livestock farming in Illinois, this research on the linkages between corporate agribusiness and county board politics fills a gap previously overlooked by anthropologists.


Advisors: Kendall M. Thu.||Committee members: Susan D. Russell; Mark Schuller.


131 pages




Northern Illinois University

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