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Community Activists to Iowa Pork Industry: Time for a Moratorium

Iowa's pig and hog population is more than 22 million according to the USDA  more than double the state's nearest pork production rival, North Carolina. (afnewsagency/Pixabay)
Iowa's pig and hog population is more than 22 million according to the USDA more than double the state's nearest pork production rival, North Carolina. (afnewsagency/Pixabay)
October 31, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – There is no state in the nation that produces more pork than Iowa and production is continuing to grow. But community activists concerned about the industry's impact on the environment are saying "enough."

Iowa's largest pork producer, Iowa Select Farms, has filed applications for 19 more factory farms but Jess Mazour, the farm and environment organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) says a moratorium is needed so proper reviews can be completed. She says it's a matter of concern for all Iowans.

"Because everybody drinks water, everybody breathes air and we now have over 10,000 of these hog factories in our state," she says.

Iowa's corn and soybean markets have been hit hard by drought and Iowa Select argues that their industry is trying to offset losses felt by grain farmers.

Iowa CCI counters that manure and ammonia releases have reached threatening levels that aren't being properly monitored. They're asking that the state's Department of Natural Resources put a 90-day application-review process in place for the proposed factory farm expansions.

Mazour says her group's research indicates that the concentration of hog farms in Iowa isn't merely a problem on the horizon, it's a demonstrated problem today.

"We have at least 750 polluted waterways in the state and that's increasing every single year," she adds. "So, we know there are not enough protections against this industry. They can build right up next to rivers and streams and there are not enough inspectors to make sure that these operations are operating properly. "

Iowa Select Farms says it's committed to environmental reporting laws. The Iowa Falls-based company also points to its role as a job creator and notes that they provide organic fertilizer to farmers throughout the state in the form of manure.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA